The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”
As parents, we all want to help our children build that loving, long-lasting connection with Allah SWT.
But, there is so much that gets in the way. Sadly, our Islamic schools and madrassahs don't help either.
Once, a girl told me how her very first lesson at her Islamic school was about siraat and the teacher told them everyone will fall of the bridge in the fire if they don't pray!
SubhanAllah! how can we expect our kids to be motivated to pray and build a connection if they are driven by so much fear? We paint such a scary picture of punishment and anger of Allah SWT, that our kids end up being terrified! Then, there is random information about what's halal and what's haram just thrown at them and they are forced to follow these rituals without a deep intrinsic desire to love Allah and follow our deen.
So, what can we do about it? Fortunately, we have control over how we portray our deen to our kids and build that connection. The best way to teach our kids about Islam is by looking at the example of our prophet himself! below are some of the ways personally tried and tested:
Our kids love stories and in early years, stories play such an important role in learning and internalizing the messages. Fill your kid's bookshelves with books about Allah SWT, stories of the prophet and seerah books. Spend some time every morning and every night doing read-alouds with the kids and discussing stories with love.
Lead By Example!
"Ourchildrenare watching us live, and what we ARE shouts louder than anything we can say." - Wilferd A. Peterson
Ask yourself: 'Do you have a loving connection with Allah swt yourself?'
Our actions speak louder than our words. If you want your kids to have a special bond with Allah SWT, start with yourself and strive to build a bond with Allah SWT. I was born and brought up in Pakistan and my knowledge of deen was limited to a maulvi saab coming over to teach us Quran every evening, and to be honest, I would sometimes not open the door for him if my mom was sleeping #tbt. You might have not been brought up in an environment where this loving relationship with Quran was nurtured, but Alhamdulillah, you can start today. Learn with your kids! try to recite Quran and beautify your recitation, try to understand even one word and teach it to your kids and learn names of Allah along with your kids!
Be gentle, be gradual
if you catch your child sneaking in a cookie while you wereN'T looking, avoid name-calling no matter how furious you are. Avoid the urge to lecture them about how Allah will punish them for not obeying their parents or lying. it doesn't help. period.
Sometimes, our approach as Muslim parents is in direct contradiction with how Allah SWT gradually sent down the Quran so that its prohibitions and commands are not too hard on us. SubhanAllah, we expect our kids to start praying or reciting the Quran the very next day as soon as we teach them. Our job is to teach them and guide them gently and make lots of dua that Allah SWT protects them and guides them always (Ameen).
What are some of the tips you have tried to nurture love and connection with Allah SWT? Would love to hear!