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Importance of Saying: “I Don’t Know”




As-salaamu alaykum,

I was once invited to a faraway place to an Islamic event as a keynote speaker. At the end of the event someone came up to me and asked a religion based question. I cheerfully replied to them and said: “That is a really good question, ma shaa Allah. But my apologies as I do not know the answer. I would like to know the answer too. I would recommend that you ask your local scholar.”

At that point I could tell the person was  shocked by their facial expressions and then they verbalized their shock by saying: “You seriously don’t know the answer to this question! You traveled all the way here and you end up saying I do not know!” (I believe the person thought I was a scholar) So I smiled back and said: “I am sorry. But I really do not know the answer. You are better off having me say “I do not know” than giving you an incorrect answer and ruining things for you and me.”

Generally speaking, being put in such situation and not knowing an answer to a question which people expect you to know may be a bit embarrassing to the one being asked. It has happened, countless times, where people guessed answers just so they can avoid such “embarrassment”.

With that being said, I couldn’t help but remember the following amazing hadith classified as authentic in Sefat Al-Fatwa. Please pay close attention to it as this may really have a long lasting effect on you. A man asked Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): “What is the most disliked/evil place (i.e to Allah)?” Can you guess what was the response of the prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)? Can you guess what was the response of the man who receives direct revelation from God, the one whom the whole ummah views as the most knowledgeable person about Islam on Earth! The prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “I do not know


Allahu akbar people!



By Allah, this raises his status in our eyes even more! There was NO hesitation! NO “but umm… but I think….” It was a simple plain “I do not know”.

3 – فقال : يا رسولَ اللهِ أيُّ البلدانِ شرٌّ ؟ قال : فقال : لا أدري ، فلما أتاه جبريلُ عليه السلامُ قال : يا جبريلُ : أيُّ البلدانِ شرٌّ ؟ قال : لا أدري حتى أسألَ ربي عزَّ وجلَّ ، فانطلق جبريلُ عليه السلامُ ثم مكث ما شاء اللهُ أن يمكثَ ثم جاء فقال : يا محمدُ إنك سألْتَنِي أيُّ البلدانِ شرٌّ فقلتُ : لا أدري ، وإني سألتُ ربي عزَّ وجلَّ : أيُّ البلدانِ أشرُّ ؟ فقال : أسواقُها

الراوي : جبير بن مطعم | المحدث : الألباني | المصدر : صفة الفتوى

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then sought to ask Angel Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) the question and said: “O Jibreel what is the most disliked/evil place/location?” Can you guess what was the response of the angel closest to Allah! Can you guess what was the answer of the angel who was responsible to reveal Allah’s commands to all prophets. He, Jibreel, said: “I do not know”. Allahu akbar! This is mind-boggling!

Then Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) left for some time and then came back to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and said: “O Muhammad, you asked me what is the most disliked/evil place/location to Allah? And I responded saying: “I do not know”. So I asked my Lord subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He): “What is the most disliked/evil place/location?” and He told me the …..”

Now surely, Allah, Al-Aleem (The All-Knowledgeable) knew the answer. But my intention for writing this article isn’t for you to focus on the response since it is a lengthy topic that requires another article to explain. The point that I wanted to share is the fact that Prophet Muhammad and Angel Jibreel (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them) didn’t hesitate to say: “I do not know”. They knew really well the severe punishment that falls on those who speak without knowledge and the honor brought forth to those who know their limits and remain humble.

Read carefully, please, Ch 7 V 33: “Say (O Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)): “(But) the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are Al-Fawahish (great evil sins, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) whether committed openly or secretly, sins (of all kinds), unrighteous oppression, joining partners (in worship) with Allah for which He has given no authority, and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.”

And the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Whoever tells lies about me deliberately, let him take his place in Hell.” – Sahih Muslim

So when you are asked a question and don’t know the answer ESPECIALLY if it was a religious matter then don’t hesitate to say: “I do not know” and follow it with another statement if you wish such as “I will ask for you” as long as you will actually do it though.

Brothers and sisters, we are better off being embarrassed in front of people for not knowing an answer to their question than being embarrassed in front of Allah for giving them an answer without knowledge.

May Allah bless you and increase you in beneficial knowledge. 

Wassalaamu alaykum,

Majed was born in Saudi Arabia where he studied the basics of Islamic sciences for 9 years as part of the Saudi school curriculum. He then immigrated to Canada during high school, and earned a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Windsor. Majed went on to obtain a Masters in Business Administration from Wayne State University. During this period, he finished his memorization of the Quran. In his pursuit for Islamic studies, he has taken over 50 courses with AlMaghrib, Bayyinah and other institutions, including topics in theology, Islamic jurisprudence, and Quranic sciences. Majed has traveled around the world lecturing about different aspects of Islam and recently completed a TV series with Huda TV & Peace TV. He is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Islamic Jurisprudence & Legal Theory from Al-Madinah International University while working as a Mechanical Engineer.



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    October 23, 2015 at 11:31 PM

    Really enjoyed this.

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      October 30, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      Ma shaa Allah… Worth reading…. Now it will be easier to us to say I don’t know Alhamdulillah..JazakAllahu khairan brother.. May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala bless you.

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    October 24, 2015 at 4:51 AM

    Maansha Allah! this surely is something that I won’t ever forget to say when ever i am in such situation!!

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    October 25, 2015 at 1:49 AM

    Shaitan induces false pride in People which make them feel low .Masha Allah We have so many reminders from Rasul-allah which help us in all aspect of lives.

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    October 26, 2015 at 2:38 AM

    Very interesting.

    What does it mean, “joining partners (in worship) with Allah for which…”?

    Thank you.

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      October 26, 2015 at 6:08 AM

      Joining partners in worship is taking someone else for worship ‘IN THE PLACE OF’ Allah or ‘ALONG WITH’ Allah. That’s joining partners with Allah. In short, not worhsipping Allah Alone.

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        October 26, 2015 at 10:35 AM

        Thank you very much, I appreciate it!

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    October 26, 2015 at 6:22 AM

    Bro Majed, I need the reference to the hadith you mentioned. The half knowledge is making me SO curious. Also, I’ve observed bro Majed Mahmoud doesn’t reply to the questions in his comments.
    Team MM, we expect answers to our questions please. Even if its an “I do not know”.

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      October 26, 2015 at 8:11 AM

      As-salaamu alaykum Sister Amatullah,
      May Allah bless you. I believe there are two ahadith in this article in which I gave the reference of them already. Let me know if you are referring to something else. Jazakumullahu khairun.

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        October 29, 2015 at 4:18 AM

        Walekum Assalam bro Majed. I appreciate your reply. It was the hadith classified as authentic in Sefat Al-Fatwa that I was asking about. I want the whole hadith. Could you kindly give me a more detailed reference?

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        October 29, 2015 at 4:19 AM

        I was trying to say the same thing as sis Rabia in the comment below

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      October 30, 2015 at 4:13 PM

      The hadith can be found in Musnad Al-Imam Ahmad and it was also narrated by Al-Hakem. The book Sefat Al-Fatwa is by Shaykh Al-Albani may Allah have mercy on him. You will find this hadith mentioned in page 9. The book is in Arabic and can be found here
      The last statement which I did not type in the hadith above is “the market place”. That is the most disliked location.
      If you are able to read Arabic then the following link has a nice explanation about the concept of the most liked vs disliked location to Allah.
      And Allah knows best. May Allah bless you.

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        November 9, 2015 at 5:46 AM

        JazakhAllah khayraan kaseeran wa kaseera for the information bro!! May Allah bless you Immensely for forwarding such beneficial information

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    October 26, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    AsA wrwb, this article was very interesting, alhamdulilah. Brother Majed, I also would like to know more about the hadith that explains what is the most hated place by Allah swt. I can’t find this hadith online when I searched it on google. You referenced the hadith as being in “Sefat Al-Fatwa.” However, I don’t even know what “Sefat Al-Fatwa” means nor do I know where I can go to locate this hadith. Is there a link, website, and/or other hadith book you can reference for those of us who would like to know more about this hadith! JazakAllah

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    October 26, 2015 at 8:21 PM

    Wow what an amazing article on an interesting issue. The hadith had my mind blown… I really have to go search for it to see what it was. But subhanallah, all of the points you have mentioned are spot on. Really appreciate the reminder, may Allah reward you!

  8. Avatar


    October 30, 2015 at 7:59 PM

    Ustadh, thank you for sharing.

  9. Avatar

    Basic Quran reading

    November 4, 2015 at 9:04 PM

    A.A good to go through this topic…Thanks,hope for better.

  10. Avatar

    Muhammad Biplob

    November 18, 2015 at 12:56 PM

    May Allah bless you, Really it’s a nice article. it can help us. jajhakallhu khairan brother

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Heart Soothers: Fahad Niazi




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Qur’an Contemplations: Openings of Timeless Truths | Sh Abu Aaliyah Surkheel

Shaykh Abu Aaliyah Surkheel



From the outset, the Qur’an establishes a link between worshipping Allah and knowing Him. The first half of the ‘Opening Chapter’ of the Qur’an, Surat al-Fatihah, states:

.‎الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ. الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ. مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ. إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

All praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds. The All-Merciful, the Compassionate. Master of the Day of Judgement. You alone we worship, and Your help alone do we seek. [Q.1:1-4]

The first three verses teach us who Allah is, so that hearts may love, hope, fear and be in awe of Him. Only then does Allah ask us to declare our singular devotion and worship of Him. It is as if the Qur’an is saying: ‘You can’t worship or adore whom you don’t know.’

Thus in the first verse, Allah describes Himself as rabb – ‘Lord’. In the Quranic language, rabb is Master, Protector, Caretaker, Provider. And just as water descends from above as blessings and rises again to the skies as steam or vapour, so to the sending down of divine blessings and gifts; they are transformed into declarations of loving thanks and praise that ascend to the Lord of the Worlds. Reflecting on Allah’s care and kindness to us, as rabb; as Lord, then, nurtures an abiding sense of love for Allah in our hearts.

Allah then reveals that He, by His very nature, is al-rahman – the All-Merciful, and by dint of His divine act is al-rahim – the Compassionate. It has been said that al-rahman is like the blue sky: serene, vast and full of light; a canopy of protective care over us and over all things. The divine name, al-rahim is like warm rays, so to speak, touching, bathing and invigorating lives, places and events with this life-giving mercy. Those who flee from this joyous warmth, and opt to cover themselves from the light, choose to live in conditions of icy darkness. Knowing Allah is al-rahman, al-rahim, invites optimism; it instils hope (raja’) in Allah’s impulse to forgive, pardon, pity, overlook and, ultimately, to accept what little we offer Him as needy, fragile and imperfect creatures.

The Prophet ﷺ and his Companions once saw a woman frantically searching for a person among the warn-out and wounded. She then found a babe, her baby. She picked it up, huddled it to her chest and gave it to feed. On seeing this, the Prophet asked if such a woman could ever throw her baby into a fire or harms way? They all resoundingly replied, no; she could never do that; her maternal instincts of mercy would never permit it! The Prophet ﷺ went on to tell them:

 لَلَّهُ أَرْحَمُ بِعِبَادِهِ مِنْ هَذِهِ بِوَلَدِهَا – ‘Allah is more merciful to His creation than that mother is to her child.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.5653]

The final name of Allah that we encounter in this surah is: Malik – Master, King, Owner of all. It is Allah as Master, as King of Judgement Day, who stands at the end of every path. All things come finally to Him to be judged, recompensed and given their final place for the beliefs that defined who they are, the deeds that defined what they stood for and the sins that stand in their way. To know Allah as Malik, therefore, is to be wary, as well as apprehensive. It is a reason for hearts to be filled with a certain sense of fear (khawf) as well as trepidation concerning the final reckoning and one’s ultimate fate.

The Prophet ﷺ once visited a young boy on his death bed and asked him how he was. The boy replied: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I am between hoping in Allah and fearing for my sins.’ To which the Prophet ﷺ said:

‎لاَ يَجْتَمِعَانِ فِي قَلْبِ عَبْدٍ فِي مِثْلِ هَذَا الْمَوْطِنِ إِلاَّ أَعْطَاهُ اللَّهُ مَا يَرْجُو وَآمَنَهُ مِمَّا يَخَافُ

‘The like of these two qualities never unite in the heart of a servant except that Allah grants him what he hopes for and protects him from what he fears.” [Al-Tirmidhi, no.983]

Only after being made aware of these four names of Allah which, in turn, instil in hearts a sense of love, fear and hope in Allah, are we led to stating: You alone do we worship, and Your help alone do we seek. In other words, the order to worship comes after the hearts having come to know Allah – the object of their loving worship, reverence and adoration.

The surah concludes by teaching us to give voice to the universal hope, by asking to be guided to the path of Allah’s people and to help steer clear of the paths of misguidance and perdition:

‎اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ. صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ. غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ

Guide us to the Straight Path; the path of those whom You have favoured; not of those who incur wrath, nor of those who are astray. [Q.1:5-7]


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More Baby, Less Shark: Planning For Kids In The Masjid

Zeba Khan



Of all the challenges that your focus can face in prayer, there are few as insidious as Baby Shark.

Doo-doo-doo doo. Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo. Baby Shark.

If you are not a parent, or have the type of amnesia that parents sometimes develop once their kids grow up, then you might assume that not having kids in the masjid is actually a solution to Baby-Shark induced distraction.

The inconvenient (and often sticky) truth is that not having kids in the masjid is a serious problem, not a solution. No kids in the masjid means an entire generation of the Muslim community growing up outside of the Muslim community.

Restricting the presence of children and assigning masjid priority to fully-formed, quietly attentive, and spiritually disciplined attendees – like adults – is a bit like restricting health club membership to triathletes. You’re already fit. So can we please let someone else use the treadmill, even if they’re not using it as well as you could?

The masjid is the center of the community for all Muslims, not a sanctuary for the preservation of reverent silence.  For a more detailed discussion on this, please see this great Soundvision article, Children in the Masjid, Making Space for Our Future.

For suggestions on how to help your children enjoy the masjid without Baby-Sharking the rest of the congregation to tears, I present the following recommendations.

Come Prepared

Rather than assume your child will be entertained by nothing but the carpet and how many weird faces they can spot in the bilaterally symmetrical patterns, bring them something to play with. One way to do this is to prepare your child a special bag for the masjid.

Stock it with as many things applicable:

  • A reusable water bottle: Select a bottle that your child can drink from on their own, preferably not likely to tip or spill onto the masjid carpet. No one appreciates a soggy sujood
  • A nut-free snack: If you think it’s too much trouble to be considerate of people with life-threatening allergies, consider how much trouble it is to bury a child who dies of anaphylaxis. Children share snacks in the masjid, and that’s ok as long as no one dies.
  • A small, quiet toy: The dollar store can be tremendously helpful in keeping your inventory fresh and financially feasible. Please be aware of swallowing hazards, since your child is likely to share the toy with others. One hopes.
  • A sweater or blanket: Sitting for long periods of time in an air-conditioned building can make anyone cold.
  • Art Supplies: Pack crayons, pencils, or markers IF you feel your child can refrain from drawing on the walls, or allowing other, smaller children from doing so. Magic Erasers don’t work on the prayer rug.

Reverie in Blue – Artist Unknown

Critically- and I do mean critically- don’t let your children access the special masjid bag unless they are in the masjid. The last thing you want is for your child to be bored with its contents before they even make it to prayers. Storing this bag somewhere inaccessible to your child can help keep its contents fresh and interesting longer.

Non-parent tip: Keep allergen-free lollipops in your pocket. Reward the kids sitting nicely (with parents’ permission) and you have killed two birds with one stone.

  1. You’ve  helped a child establish a happy memory and relationship to the masjid.
  2. Kids with lollipops in their mouths make less noise.

Do not pack:

Balls: Not even small ones, not even for small children. Your child may not have the gross-motor skills to kick or throw a ball at people who are praying, but there will always be children in the masjid who do. They will take your child’s ball, and they will play ball with it, because that’s what balls are for. Consider also the potential damage to light fixtures, ceiling fans, audio/video equipment, and the goodwill of people who get hit, run down, or kicked in the shins. The masjid is just not the place to play ball, even if the floor is green and has lines on it.

Not every green thing with lines is a soccer field.

Scooters: Do not bring scooters, skateboards, heelies, or other mobility toys that would turn your child a faster-moving object than they already are. Your child’s long-term relationship with the community can be fostered by not crashing into it.

Slime: Slime and carpets do, in fact, go together. They go together so well as to be inextricable of one-another. Please, do not bring slime to the masjid.

Gum: Please, for the love of everyone’s socks, no gum.

Toy Guns, Play-weapons: It should go without saying. And yet, I have seen nerf guns, foam swords, and toy guns in masjid. Apart from the basic indoor etiquette of not sword-fighting, nor launching projectiles in a house of worship, please be sensitive. No one wants to see guns in their masjid.

Non-parent tip: If children playing near you are making “too much noise” smile and find another place to sit if possible. It is not always possible to ignore or move away from disruptions, but glaring, eye-rolling, and making tsk-tsk sounds is not likely to effect long-term change in either the child’s behavior or the parents’ strategic abilities. At best, you will embarrass the parents. At worst, you will push families away from the faith and the community while confirming the opinion that masjids are full of cranky, impatient people who wish kids didn’t exist in the masjid while criticizing Muslim youth for not being there. 

Avoid Electronics. But if you can’t…

I am prefacing this suggestion with a disclaimer. Habitually putting your child on a smartphone or tablet so that you can “enjoy” the masjid without the “hassle” of you making sure they behave properly is not good parenting. A child being physically present but mentally absent in the masjid is not a long-term strategy that any parent should get behind.

Having said that, if you do give your kids a tablet or phone in the masjid, please disable Youtube and bring over-ear headphones.

Do not rely on YouTube Kids to take responsibility for your child’s content choices either. Long after Baby Shark has sunk to the depths of the internet, there will always be loud, inappropriate, or just plainly distracting and disturbing things that your child can access on it.

Instead of relying on Youtube at all, install child-friendly apps that you know won’t have external links embedded in their ads, and won’t lead to inadvertent, inappropriate viewing in case your child – or my child sitting next to them – click out of their app and into the great wide world. I highly recommend anything from the Toca Boca suite of apps.

Parents at Taraweeh – Making it Work

Non-parent tip: If you see a child on a tablet, do not lecture their parent. As a special needs parent, there are times when I too allow my autistic son onto a tablet to prevent a meltdown or try to get just 15 more minutes out of him so I can finish attending a class. Do not automatically assume laziness or incompetence on behalf of parents whose children you see on an electronic device. 

Reward for Success, in this life and the next

You show up in the masjid because you hope for a reward from Allah. As an adult, you have the ability to delay the gratification of this reward until well after you die. Your kids, however, don’t.

Motivate your kids with small rewards for small accomplishments as you remind them of the reward that Allah has for them too. You can choose to reward a child after every two rakah, or after every two days. How often you reward them, and what you choose to reward them for depends on their age and their capabilities.

Make dua for your kids when you reward them. If they get a small handful of gummy bears after a good evening at the masjid, pair it with a reminder of the bigger reward too.

“Here’s the ice cream I promised you for doing awesome in the masjid today. May Allah grant you mountains of ice cream in Jannah so big you can ski down them. Ameen.”

Non-parent tip: It’s not your job to discipline the children of others, but you can help praise them. Randomly compliment kids who are sitting nicely, sharing toys, playing quietly, or wearing cute headgear. Their parents will likely not mind.

Reinforce the rules – but define them first.

“Be Good In the Masjid” is a vastly different instruction depending on who you’re instructing. For a teenager, praying with the congregation is reasonable. For a two-year-old, not climbing the congregation is reasonable.

Define your rules and frame them in a positive context that your children can remember. Remind them of what they’re supposed to be doing rather than calling them out for what they are not. For example, no running in the masjid vs. please walk in the masjid.

Avoid saying this:

Try saying this instead:

Stay out of my purse Please use the toys in your bag
Don’t draw on the walls Crayons only on the paper
No yelling Please use your “inside” voice
No food on the carpet Please have your snack in the hallway
Don’t run off Stay where I can see you, which is from [here] to [here.]
No peeing the carpet We’re taking a potty break now, and we’ll go again after the 4th rakah’.
No hitting Hands nicely to yourself.

While it might look like semantics, putting your energy into “To-Do’s” versus the “To-Don’ts” has long-term benefits. If your child is going to hear the same thing from you a hundred times before they get it right, you can help them by telling them what the right thing is. Think of the difference between the To-Do statement “Please use a tissue,” versus the To-Don’t statement of “Don’t pick your nose.” You can tell you kid a hundred times not to pick his or her nose, but if you never tell them to use a tissue, you’re missing the opportunity to replace bad behavior with its functional alternative.

Plan for Failure

Kids don’t walk the first time they try. They won’t sit nicely the first time you ask them to either. Decide what your exact plan is in case you have to retreat & regroup for another day.

  • How much noise is too much? Do your kids know what you expect of them?
  • Where are the physical boundaries you want your kids to remain in? Do they know what those boundaries are?
  • For kids too small to recognize boundaries, how far are you ok with a little one toddling before you decide that the potential danger may not be worth it?
  • Talk to your spouse or other children and get everyone on board. Being on the same page can look like different things according to different age groups. A plan of action can be “If we lose Junior Ibn Abu, we’re taking turns in prayer,” or “If you kick the Imam again, we’re all going home.”
  • If your child is too small, too rowdy, or too grumpy to sit quietly at the masjid, please take turns with your spouse. The masjid is a sweet spiritual experience that both parents should be able to enjoy, even if that means taking turns.

Don’t Give up

If you find yourself frustrated with being unable to enjoy the masjid the way you did before your child starting sucking on prayer rugs, remember this:

Raising your children with love and patience is an act of worship, even if it’s not the act of worship you thought you were coming to the masjid for. No matter what your expectations are of them – or how far they are from meeting them – the ultimate goal is for your child to love Allah and love the House of Allah.

When they get things right, praise them and reward them, and remind them that Allah’s reward is coming too. When they get it wrong, remind them and forgive them, and don’t give up. The only way children learn to walk is by falling down over, and over, and over again.

Avoiding the masjid because your kids don’t behave correctly is like not allowing them to walk because they keep falling down. The key is to hold their hand until they get it right, and maintain close supervision until you can trust them to manage on their own, InshaAllah.

May Allah make it easy for you and bless your children with love for the masjid in this life and love for Allah that will guide them through the next. Aaaaaaaameeeeeeeeen

Children @ Taraweeh: Storm in a Teacup

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