By: Sakeena Suliman
Source: Jamiatul Ulama
The first of his actions for which a servant of All Mighty Allah Most High will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If a believer’s Salah is sound, then all his deeds will be sound, but if it is lacking, then all his deeds will be lacking.
Salah is the first act of worship that was made obligatory by Allah Most High. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and essential to one’s faith. With the world at our feet, it’s becoming more difficult for parents to keep their children grounded and instil in them knowledge and love for Islamic obligations.
Because of its extreme importance to a Muslim, Salah should be one of the first acts of worship that parents should teach their children.
Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “Command your children to make Salah when they become seven years old and spank them for it (Salah) when they become nine years old, and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately.” (Abu Dawud).
Salah is such a great form of Ibadah, a child must be exposed to the beauty of Salah from a young age even when he doesn’t understand it. Many parents are under the impression that children should begin learning how to perform Salah at the age of seven. But informal instruction in Salah should begin when a child is at least two years old or even younger, when they are visually aware of what takes place around them.
It is only human nature that children love to imitate their parents. In fact, this is one method that Allah Most High has provided us for teaching our youth. Everyday Muslims shared their strategies in getting their children acquainted with Salah from a young age.
Zaheera wrote, “My strategy is encouraging them by way of example from a very young age, getting them a smaller mussallah, reading beside you. I always tell my sons that every time [they] read Salah, Allah Most High fills [their] treasure box with all the things that [they] love & on the day of Qiyamah, Allah Most High will present [it] 2 [them]. Now n again I remind them how big their treasure boxes are. With positive reinforcement the love of Salah will enter heir heart.”
“Leading by example is the best way but to make it easier I made a Salah book and introduced 3 Salahs first…like zuhar, asr, magrib. Making the child tick and one parent sign weekly, this at age 7, at 10 I introduced esha and fajr and eventually it became a habit. Loads of encouragement, rather then fear is very important,” wrote Mumtaz.
Fatima also said that leading by example was the first strategy and getting them their own prayer mats and burqahs was the second. “Third is to allow them to make dua out aloud and allow them to ask for whatever they want. It’s where they learn that Allah is the only provider. And now that my ones are older I encourage them to read Salah in their own rooms on occasion so that they learn its part of THEIR own routine and space instead of mummy’s and papa’s only.”
“I think it’s about the child watching their parent doing the things we want to teach them. The child’s first teacher is the parent he/she spends the most time with,” wrote Aaliyah.
Some parents said when a child watches a parent making Salah they become curious and that opens the doors to explain and teach the ahadeeth at a level the child can understand. Another said parents performing Salah in front of their kids taught them that it was necessary and part of life’s routine, “just like eating”.