By Anam Lone @theinspiredaccountant
As a Muslim, living in a country where the majority of the population is non-Muslim can be both a challenge and a blessing. It is challenging because you can “stand out” from the larger population when following Islamic religious practices. On the other hand, it is a blessing because you learn more about your religion than you would when living in a country where Islam is the primacy faith. In non-Muslim majority countries, you are often asked questions and faced with dilemmas that make you question your faith, and perhaps research and learn more about it.
For Muslim parents of young kids, instilling religious values in children is a matter that requires close attention. Children are easily influenced by their environment, which makes it all the more important that they learn how to preserve the values they are taught at home. Therefore, it is important that Muslim parents give some thought to how they will teach Islamic values to their kids while ensuring that they learn to respect the diversity of faiths and beliefs around them.
To reflect Islamic values within kids, one of the best things parents can do is model those behaviors and attitudes for them. Islam is a way of life, rather than a set of rituals. Therefore, one cannot underestimate how greatly the parents’ daily actions can impact kids. How parents talk to their kids becomes their own internal dialogue. Even a parent who is seemingly absent from their kids’ life is teaching them a certain behavior. So, if Islamic values are modelled at home and kept front and center, it is more likely that children will consider them in all walks of life. These can be simple things such as saying salam, thank you, or helping with cleaning and chores around the house. They can also be bigger acts and decisions such as giving charity and respecting other faiths.
Outside of home, this can be further promoted by taking kids to mosque on a regular basis where they can connect with other families and know that they are part of a larger community. This requires the parents to actively take time from their busy schedules to be with their kids. It can seem difficult, but it is one of the best investments you can make for the future of your kids.
An important aspect of raising good Muslims is to remind kids that their good deeds are to be rewarded by Allah. Too many times, parents tend to focus on what NOT to do. This can create rebellious behaviour as children try to find their own unique identity, especially as teenagers. However, if parents use positive reinforcement and applaud good actions, they can teach kids to associate good behaviour with the pleasure of Allah.
Another key lesson for kids is learning what is Halal and Haram – which can be defined as right and wrong in Islam. The concept of “halal” should be taught as it spreads across various mannerisms of daily life. In addition, parents can introduce children to Islamic media, books, and brands as well. Involve them in shopping for halal food and teach them about brands such as Zabiha Halal so that they can make conscious food choices.
In conclusion, discussing Islam with your children at home from the time of their youth, and modelling Islamic behaviours and values will help raise children who have whole-heartedly embraced Islam. These children will understand the importance of their religious values and are more likely to hold on to them, no matter what environment they are in.
What are some ways in which you teach your kids about Islam? We would love to hear from you!