Teachers face a unique challenge.
On the one hand, they need to get through a comprehensive curriculum that requires a deliberate, if not stubborn, outlook on their students keeping the pace necessary to complete it. On the other hand, they also see the outliers amongst their cohort as not receiving what they need to spread their wings and sore, or more likely, catch-up to the rest of the group.
The answer, after nearly two decades of teaching, are parents. I here aim to share, as a parent and an educator, some maxims, that in my professional and personal experience will promote your child’s natural abilities and push them to achieve their very best.
These laws are not tasks for your children to accomplish. These principles, founded from the Sunnah, are practices YOU must implement.
Be positive about learning
Show your children, through your active practice that knowledge is a life-long pursuit. This can be done by taking on hobbies, attending weekend courses, being attached to a regular Quran halaqah and by consistently demonstrating a positive attitude towards learning. This, subtly, encourages your children to foster an interest in learning. It is important for our children to see that learning is something that adults do too.
One of the Dua enjoined upon our Nabi Muhammed to make is recorded in Surat Taha:
وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
Say: My Lord, increase me in knowledge.
Surah TaHa 20:114
The knowledgeable agree that the request for increase begins with the desire and then taking the means to pursue it.
The Messenger of Allah said:
مَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَلْتَمِسُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا سَهَّلَ اللَّهُ لَهُ طَرِيقًا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ
Whoever travels a path in search of knowledge, Allah makes easy for him a path to Paradise. Sahih Muslim 2699
Experience + Reflection = Learning
Reading is nice, but doing is better. The experiences we have in our lives are not simply memories, they build our brains and alter our world view. When we involve our children in new and interesting, positive experiences, we stimulate their brain development and give them a larger library of information to draw from.
Our children may not listen to everything we say, but they absorb everything we do. From the youngest of ages, our children are engrossed in our lifestyle. The more contact time you have, the richer their experience, especially if that contact is consistent. Take note of the Prophet r attitude to youngsters attending to the masjid or other formal events.
It is clear as well that his r audience was not limited to the faithful elders amongst the sahabah, radiya Allahu anhum ajma’een, but also to the young. Most of the noteable scholars from the Sahaaba were those who grew up mixing and traveling with the Messenger of Allah r from a young age. The likes of Usama ibn Zayd, Abdullah ibn Omar, Anas ibn Malik, Abdullah ibn Amr, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Mu’adh ibn Jabal, Zaid ibn Thaabit and countless others.
‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them both) said: ‘One day, I was riding behind the Prophet r when he said: “Young man! I am teaching you (some) words: Follow Allah’s orders and He will protect you; fulfill His rights and you will find Him with you. If you need something, ask Allah; and if you ask for help, ask Allah (alone).”
What an honour to sit next to the best of humanity and travel while being taught to reflect on the true nature of life.
Know that mistakes are opportunities
If you can’t make a mistake, you’ll never do anything new. Help your children to realise that we all make mistakes. No one gets everything right the first time. In fact, making mistakes is the way we learn.
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, said, “All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best of sinners are those who repent.” Sahih in Sunan Ibn Majah 4251
At first glance, it seems like this hadith is just a general statement. However, when you come to know that Anas, radiyaAllahu anhu was 9 years old during the life of the Prophet r and that he was given the honour of serving the Prophet r, the hadith becomes more precise. When you couple it with Anas describing his relationship with the Prophet r as being:
Anas reported: “I never felt any piece of velvet or silk softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah r, nor did I smell any fragrance more pleasant than the smell of the Messenger of Allah . I served him for ten years, and he never said ‘Uff’ (an expression of disgust) to me. He never said ‘Why did you do that?’ for something I had done, nor did he ever say ‘why did you not do such and such’ for something I had not done. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
We come to see that the Prophet had a reformative, rather than punitive, attitude with young people. His aim was always about improvement, rather than censure and punishment. Mistakes, in that framework transform into successes.
Push Past the Obvious
The Googlation of education encourages people to seek AN answer, then stop thinking. Be the antidote to this. Help your child to take ideas and stretch them out.
You will need a good sense of humour and patience. Let your child absorb information from a plethora of sources, recombine them in new and crazy ways and allow them the opportunity to apply them in unusual settings.
It is for this reason that the Prophet r would regularly ask young people questions about life and death, success and failure, good and evil, rather than simply stating a fact.
The Prophet asked his companions, ‘What would be the situation of someone who has a river at his door and everyday, five times a day he comes out and he takes a bath in that river? At the end of the day would he have any dirt on himself?’
They responded, ‘There would be no dirt on him, O RasulAllah.’
Then the Prophet said, ‘Similarly there are the five ṣalawāt, cleansing the person in this way.’
An example from the Prophet is the ḥadīth of the woman who came and asked him about her mother who made an oath to do Ḥajj but then died. She asked the Prophet, ‘Should I do Ḥajj on her behalf?’
The Prophet said: ‘If your mother had any debts, would you pay them on her behalf?’
The woman replied, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet said:
‘The debt owed to Allah is more worthy of being fulfilled and paid off’ (al-Bukhari)
Construct plans and use them to make Decisions
Being able to anticipate what is likely to happen as a consequence of our actions is an essential life skill. Many adults fail at developing foresight and understanding the ramifications of their words and actions. In part, it is due to how they were raised.
It is easy to make demands and force all to adhere to your decision as the parent. However, your children miss understanding that their own decisions also have consequence. Getting our children to plan and be part of the decision can be as simple as asking, “What do you think will happen if we did this or that?”
An issue would come up and the Prophet would occasionally have the question answered by one of the companions in order to train them to answer the questions.
A man came to the Prophet and said that he had a dream and he wanted its interpretation. Before the Prophet answered, Abū Bakr said, ‘Ya RasulAllah! Allow me to interpret it,’ and the Prophet allowed him to do so.
There are numerous cases where a person would come to the Prophet with a legal issue and he r would tell a certain companion to get up and make a judgement between them. That companion would say, ‘Ya RasulAllah , shall I judge between them while you are here, in our midst?’
The Prophet would respond in the affirmative.
These young companions would later became Muslim judges, and they were the governors that went out to Yemen, Egypt, and other places. The Prophet had trained them in his midst.
Ya Allah bless our children with Your Love and the love of those who love You.
My Lord strengthen their bodies, tune their hearing, sharpen their sight, clear their congestion, mend their wounds and make them whole.
My Lord with Your Mercy protect them from Illness, sin, mistakes, errors and misguidance as consequence of their devotion to You.
O Allah cause them to obey in love their parents, without rebellion, persistent error or disrespect.
Ya Allah help us raise them well with high morals and firm ethics of righteousness that blesses them and society.
My Lord I entrust You with our progeny, for no trust is lost with You. I entrust You with clearing them of impediments, ailments and immorality.
I trust in You to guard them from the evil that spreads by night, or envious eyes sharpened by the light of day and from the jealousy of hateful friends
My Lord protect my children from all sides, above and beneath, right and left, front and back.
Ya Allah let our children be reason for our honour and a source of our pride.
Imam Yahya Ibrahim is Head of Islamic Studies & Asst. Principal at Langford Islamic College, Senior Imam at Thornlie Mosque, Islamic Chaplain at Curtin University & the University of Western Australia and lecturer for the internationally acclaimed alMaghrib Institute. Imam Yahya is a Minister of Religion, empowered to officiate marriages for the Australian Islamic community. He is Canadian by birth, Egyptian through ancestry, Turkish via marriage, and Australian by choice of residence and migration.
His religious training began in Toronto wherein he committed the Quran to memory & studied Fiqh/Jurisprudence upon the principles of Imam Shafi’ee’s Madh-haab. Over the years, beginning 1993, Imam Yahya has continued to further his study of Islam by meeting, translating and traveling to scholars in Egypt & Hijaz & South East Asia. Throughout that time he has received Tazkiyah and Ijazah to instruct in a variety of Islamic disciplines – Hadith, Fiqh and Quranic sciences, Alhamdulillah. Follow him on Facebook.
The Hyperactive And Inattentive Child | Dr. Hatem Al Haj
Some kids are fidgety and hyperactive, as if they are “driven by a motor,” constantly moving around, bouncing off the furniture, and unable to stay still and quiet. They may be also quite impulsive, so they can’t wait for their turn, blurt out answers before you finish your sentence, and intrude in on others. Others are inattentive and out of focus – almost always. They are disorganized and forgetful, and they lose their things regularly. These criteria could be bad enough to qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD, which is Attention Deficit And Hyperactivity Disorder. This disorder is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Some may have the inattention alone, others the hyperactivity alone, while a third group has both.
This spectrum of disorders may lead to poor performance in school, inconsistency in work, emotional immaturity, and social difficulties, but let us not forget that these kids may have some special strengths as well, such as their boundless energy, enthusiasm, humor, and creativity.
The diagnosis of ADHD will need a specialized health care provider to make, but the following tips will be helpful for kids who share some or all the aforementioned criteria, whether they have the disorder or not.
Since a big part of the problem that will lead to most of the difficulties in schooling is the disorganization and lack of focus, it is recommended that we help those kids stay organized and on task through the following measures:
o Consistent schedules and having daily routines even when it comes to the waking up rituals: going to the bathroom, brushing their teeth and putting on their clothes. (Older kids should have prayed fajr before sunrise.) Have the schedule on the refrigerator or bulletin board in their study or bedroom. (Don’t forget to schedule time for play and wholesome recreation.) Let the child be part of the planning and organizing process.
o Keep in the same place their clothes, backpacks, and school supplies. Use notebook organizers and color-coded folders. If you homeschool, make the day structured and buy them a desk where they can put their belongings, and if you send them to school, make sure they bring back written assignments.
o Decrease distractions as much as possible. If you home school, then I suggest for you to keep a quiet environment as much as possible and avoid excessiveness in decorating your house (particularly their study place) with knickknacks and pictures. Maybe this would provide us a reason to try (and hopefully appreciate) minimalism!
o TV and videogames are bad for all kids, and even worse for kids with ADHD, except when permissible programs are watched in moderation. See the AAP’s guidelines for “use in moderation.”
Some tips for parents and guardians
- Consistent rules must be in place. Rewards must be given to the children when they follow them, and punishment must be judiciously used when the rules are broken.
- Kids with this condition may have low self-esteem, and it is detrimental to their welfare to further lower it. Thus, praise good behaviors frequently even if they were little and expected, such as putting their shoes where they belong.
- Do not be frustrated with the inconstancy of the child’s performance. He may get a 100% on one test and then fail the next. Use the first to encourage them and prove to them that he can do better.
- One on one teaching/tutoring may be needed to enable the child to keep up with the schoolwork.
Should we use medication?
Medications are sometimes needed. You must consult your doctor regarding their use.
Here are my non-professional thoughts:
- Prescribing those medications should never be a kneejerk reaction. First, we must be confident of the diagnosis, then, try all other modalities of therapy, and finally, entertain the option of pharmacological intervention.
- Medicating the children should never be for the interest/comfort of the parents or teachers; it should be only for the interest of the child.
- Medications should be tried if the child is failing to keep up with learning knowledge and skills s/he will need in their future, and other therapies failed to help them
Loving Muslim Marriages Episode 3: Are Muslim Women Becoming Hypersexual?
Are Muslim women with sexual demands becoming “hyper-sexual,” being negatively influenced by life in a Western, post-sexual revolution society? Allah made both men and women sexual, and the recognition of a Muslim woman’s sexual needs is a part of the religion even if it seems missing from the culture. This segment is a continuation of the previous week’s segment titled, “Do Women Desire Sex?”
To view all videos in this series, as well as an links or articles referenced, please visit www.muslimmatters.org/LMM
How Grandparents Can Be Of Invaluable Help In A Volatile ‘Me First’ Age
I grew up in a small rural village of a developing country during the 1950s and 1960s within a wider ‘extended’ family environment amidst many village aunties and uncles. I had a wonderfully happy childhood with enormous freedom but traditional boundaries. Fast forward 30 years, my wife and I raised our four children on our own in cosmopolitan London in the 1980s and 1990s. Although not always easy, we had a wonderful experience to see them grow as adults. Many years and life experiences later, as grandparents, we see how parenting has changed in the current age of confusion and technology domination.
While raising children is ever joyous for parents, external factors such as rapidly changing lifestyles, a breath-taking breakdown of values in modern life, decline of parental authority and the impacts of social media have huge impacts on modern parenting.
Recently, my wife and I decided to undertake the arduous task of looking after our three young grandchildren – a 5½-year old girl and her 2-year old sibling brother from our daughter, plus a 1½-year old girl from our eldest son – while their parents enjoyed a thoroughly deserved week-long holiday abroad. My wife, who works in a nursery, was expertly leading this trial. I made myself fully available to support her. Rather than going through our daily experiences with them for a week, I highlight here a few areas vis a vis raising children in this day and age and the role of grandparents. The weeklong experience of being full time carers brought home with new impetus some universal needs in parenting. I must mention that handling three young grandchildren for a week is not a big deal; it was indeed a sheer joy to be with these boisterous, occasionally mischievous, little kids so dear to us!
- Establish a daily routine and be consistent: Both parents are busy now-a-days earning a livelihood and maintaining their family life, especially in this time of austerity. As children grow, and they grow fast, they naturally get used to the daily parental routine, if it is consistent. This is vital for parents’ health as they need respite in their daily grind. For various practical reasons the routine may sometimes be broken, but this should be an exception rather than a norm. After a long working day parents both need their own time and rest before going to sleep. Post-natal depression amongst mums is very common in situations where there is no one to help them or if the relationship between the spouses is facing difficulty and family condition uninspiring.
In our trial case, we had some struggles in putting the kids to sleep in the first couple of nights. We also faced difficulties in the first few mornings when our grandson would wake up at 5.00am and would not go back to sleep, expecting one of us to play with him! His noise was waking up his younger cousin in another room. We divided our tasks and somehow managed this until we got used to a routine towards the end of the week.
- Keep children away from screens: Grandparents are generally known for their urge to spoil their grandchildren; they are more relaxed about discipline, preferring to leave that job to the parents. We tried to follow the parents’ existing rules and disciplinary measures as much as possible and build on them. Their parents only allow the children to use screens such as iPads or smartphones as and when deemed necessary. We decided not to allow the kids any exposure to these addictive gadgets at all in the whole week. So, it fell on us to find various ways to keep them busy and engaged – playing, reading, spending time in the garden, going to parks or playgrounds. The basic rule is if parents want their kids to keep away from certain habits they themselves should set an example by not doing them, especially in front of the kids.
- Building a loving and trusting relationship: From even before they are born, children need nurture, love, care and a safe environment for their survival and healthy growth. Parenting becomes enjoying and fulfilling when both parents are available and they complement each other’s duties in raising the kids. Mums’ relationship with their children during the traditional weaning period is vital, both for mums and babies. During our trial week we were keenly observing how each of the kids behaved with us. We also observed the evolution of interesting dynamics amongst the three; but that is a different matter. In spite of occasional hiccups with the kids, we felt our relationship was further blossoming with each of them. We made a habit of discussing and evaluating our whole day’s work at night, in order to learn things and plan for a better next day.
A grandparent, however experienced she or he may be, can be there only to lend an extra, and probably the best, pair of hands to the parents in raising good human beings and better citizens of a country. With proper understanding between parents and grandparents and their roles defined, the latter can be real assets in a family – whether they live under the same roof or nearby. Children need attention, appreciation and validation through engagement; grandparents need company and many do crave to be with their own grandchildren. Young grandchildren, with their innate innocence, do even spiritually uplift grandparents in their old age.
Through this mutual need grandparents can transfer life skills and human values by reading with them, or telling them stories or just spending time with the younger ones. On the other hand, in our age of real loneliness amidst illusory social media friends, they get love, respect and even tender support from their grandchildren. No wonder the attachment between grandparents and grandchildren is often so strong!
In modern society, swamped by individualism and other social ills, raising children in an urban setting is indeed overwhelming. We can no longer recreate ‘community parenting’ in the traditional village environment with the maxim “It needs a village to raise a child’, but we can easily create a productive and innovative role for grandparents to bring about similar benefits.