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Seerah and Your Kids

Seerah and Your Kids

Assalamu alaikum,

A few months ago I thought it would be a good idea to read the sīrah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), to my 6 year old boy. I purchased a few books and began to read from them to my son. The endeavor soon went very, very stale. The author had chosen to omit the more dramatic incidents of the sīrah, such as Bilal's torture, the conversion of Hamzah, raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them), and any level of detail regarding the famous and pivotal battles of Islam. I presume the author felt that such intense and sometimes violent content was inappropriate for children and while I respect his decision and efforts, I do not agree with him. The sīrah is about Life, or to be more precise, how life should be lived. And according to the Qurʾān, the Sunnah, and the experience of every human being in history, Life is full of struggle, defeat, pain, victory, joy, death, birth, and rebirth. Are we doing our children a favor by sheltering them from these realities at such a young age? Is it not better to gently introduce them to these truths through the sīrah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), as told to them by their own Father, in the comfort of their own home and bed? That is the conclusion that I reached and I did not believe that any of the sīrah books for children currently available would meet that goal, so I proceeded to deliver my own narration of the sīrah to my son.

As a reference, I used one of my favorite Arabic books, السيرة النبوية في ضوء مصادرها الأصلية, “The Prophetic sīrah in the Light of its Original Sources”, by Mahdi Rizq-Ullah, and to put it simply, the experience has been absolutely awesome. Together, my son and I have experienced all the most dramatic moments from the greatest and truest adventure ever lived, toned down (and sometimes exaggerated for comedic effect) to a level that I felt was appropriate. We visited the Prophet's infancy and the loneliness of his childhood after the death of his parents, then his growing prestige as a trusted merchant of Quraysh. We witnessed the awesome terror and power of the first revelation and the comfort given to him by his noble wife Khadīja raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her). The ups and downs, the joys and defeats, the sacrifices and the struggles of the greatest generation this world has ever seen became a part of our nighttime routine and I swear that at times I was so moved that I could barely continue. In fact, out of all the ways that I have experienced the sīrah of Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), through reading, listening to tapes, and even attending a sīrah class as a student of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Uthaymeen, rahimahu Allāh, I feel that this has been the most rewarding. May Allāh forgive my inadequacy at finding the right words, but all I can say is that it is one thing to learn the sīrah for yourself and an entirely other thing to learn and teach it to your children.

My experience in re-delivering the story of Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and his Companions has been one of the most positive endeavors that I have undertaken as a Father. It provided me with an unique opportunity to teach my son lessons about perseverance, mercy, faith, bravery, and a long list of other virtues rarely talked about in today's society. I've shared this with you in the hope that there is something useful to be learned from it for yourself and your family. Allāh knows the best.

“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked about his flock”

Bukhāri and Muslim

This post was originally posted here.

allah bukhari muhammad seerah

About Yahya Whitmer

I was an 18 year old beliigerent atheist when the Quran entered my life and rocked my world. Reading the Seerah later sealed the deal. I studied Arabic everywhere I could, from America to the Levant and somehow an invitation to study with Muhammad Ibn Salih Al Uthaymeen landed in my lap, may Allah have mercy on his soul. I went, I met, I sat, I studied, and words simply can't do justice to the privilege and the experience. I am still trying to figure out how to be thankful for it. I live in the States, I work in IT, and I have two boys who I am trying to help to grow into admirable men.

12 comments

  1. Quran Recitation

    The Holy Quran defines the righteous path for the people of the world. It is an up to man how it follow the way which lead them towards success. Manahil from Quran recitation school.

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  2. JazakAllahu khairan! One thing that I realized, both growing up and now that I have my own child, is that Muslims have lost the art of oratory and storytelling.
    No written book can ever cater to a young child or share the true lessons and thrills of the seerah the way a parent with a captivating voice and ability for storytelling can!

    Many of us wonder why Muslim kids prefer books such as Harry Potter or the Hunger Games to the Seerah and Stories of the Sahaba. In part, it is because Muslim writers have forgotten what type of writing really grabs kids’ attention (encyclopediac facts: Nope. Dry textbook style: Nope. Exciting, descriptive, emotional – yes!), and the current market for children’s Islamic books in general is really quite cringe-worthy.

    I think it’s time that Muslims revive the Sunnah of Story-telling (after all, didn’t RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) spend a great deal of time relating (educational) stories to the Sahaba?) and share the seerah with their children in a more personal way.

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    • This is a very good point. It is hard to connect emotionally with hard facts. The drama and humanity of a good story is essential to making an idea resound on a personal level. The only way to develop that skill is to practice, practice, practice.

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    • I’m making some research on this after having to put away a booklet about prophets supposedly for kids, but it was so poorly written. It seems that we are just too lazy or we don’t believe that we can do things well. I’m an engineer and really I’m not the best person to do this, but this our current state…

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  3. very nice post, mashaAllah. I hope to be able to delve into the seerah with my children one day, insha’Allah.

    Small note, you wrote “rahimaha Allah” in reference to Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen- it should be “rahimahu” (because he’s a man).

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  4. Very nice write up. It was brief and to the point. I agree with your point about Bilal (RA). Though I wouldnt vouch for it now, my earliest window into the world of Seerah was the movie ‘ The Message’. Though I am against the depiction of Sahabas by actors, the scene of torture of Bilal (RA) has been etched in my memory. I was I guess 7 or 8 when I saw the movie for the first time. And even today, when I read about Hamza (RA), Antony Quinn’s visage makes an appearance. :( .

    I applaud your choice for the Seerah. The book by Mahdi Rizq ullah is pretty much under-rated and people either prefer Sallabee or Raheeq al Makhtum . Even the Bidayah wan nihayah version of the seerah is pretty much detailed, and you will have to draw your own lessons. But the idea of teaching your children the Seerah is one of the most noblest things you can do, in the era of the Harry Potters and other fantasy worlds which promote concepts like magic, dating and other harmful ideas. Thanks for the reminder Brother Yahya. May Allah be pleased with your efforts.

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    • Really? With all respect to the author and translator, I feel Mahdi Rizq ullah’s book is OVER-rated. Dr. Tariq Ramadan and Br. Adil Salahi (1st edition, not 2nd) are much better seerah books in the English language.

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      • I completely agree actually. Tariq Ramadhan’s book and Adil Salahi’s seerah are the best resources in English that I have come across. I was just inclined to use an Arabic resource when I did this with my son. But those two English books are on his future reading list in sha Allah.

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  5. how come my message wasn’t posted?

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  6. Oh, sorry it was. The article was cool, may Allah accept your good work, ameen. :)

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    • “Alhamdulillah” sometimes messages are delayed by DISQUS (the commenting system we use) or they may be stuck in SPAM due to certain reasons. They could also be deleted by comments staff for not complying with our comments policy.
      -Aly

      PS: using a fake email is technically grounds for removal of comments so please use a correct email address.

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