Rabbi Zidnee Ilman
“My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”
In a world that is becoming increasingly Islamophobic, it is has become incumbent on all Muslims to go the extra mile to not only be a positive “billboard” for Islam, but to be an exceptional one at that. While the most convincing or effective approach may not be to hand out flyers to everyone we meet, with bullet points on why Islam is the perfect way of life, we can illustrate the same points through our manners.
As parents, we have an added responsibility of making sure that our children are also representing Islam in a positive light. After all, just as we are ambassadors of Islam, so are our little ones.
Although, my children are far from perfect, and they definitely have areas they need to work on, this is something we always try to ingrain in them every time we are out in public. We remind them constantly that they are the examples of Islam to the world, and as such, they need to always try to make the best impression.
I teach my kids to always be grateful for any favor they receive from others either by saying “JazakAllahu Khair,” or “Thank you” (to non-Muslims).
We live in a world where children feel so entitled that have become accustomed to taking without even saying “Thank you.” Even though this is not always the case, I see this way too often where ever I go. On top of that, there is a competition amongst kids to fight to get the “biggest piece of the pie,” which brings me to the next point….
I teach my kids to give up their “share” sometimes, so that they can learn that the joy of giving exceeds that of receiving. Sometimes, there are not enough “prizes” to go around, and although it may be hard for a child to give up their share, it will be much more rewarding in the long run, and it will help to build their character. “The only time you should look at someone else’s plate is to see whether they have enough, and not whether they have more than you.”
I teach my children to clean up after themselves wherever they go. For this reason, I stopped trying to clean up after my children every time and made sure that they always clean up their own mess at home. Littering has become such a norm in our society that when people see children cleaning up, they become genuinely impressed.
I teach my children to be of service to others, and to always look for opportunities to earn good deeds. I remind them that their deeds are the only things they can take with them from this world. Whenever we go somewhere where there is an activity for kids, I try to teach them to ask whether they can help. For this reason, staff at particular places are always happy to see them and complement them on their manners. Acts of service could also look like helping an elderly woman carry bags, giving a bottle of water or snack to a homeless person, or even helping little ones to calm down after an injury.
I teach my children to always speak politely. This not only entails saying excuse me, sorry or thank you, but even something as simple as greeting people or asking “how are you?” Have you noticed that in our ummah, this practice is often forgotten? SubhanAllah, it’s hard at times to even get a Salam returned, let alone get one initiated. I always remind my kids that the first person to say “As Salam Alaikum” gets more hasanat (rewards), which motivates them to greet others first.
I encourage my kids to give small gifts because it “strengthens and maintains relations.” For example, they have developed a habit of bringing an orange to the each of their ceramics teachers every week. It may seem insignificant, but I was told the other day, (much to my surprise) that this little gesture was the “highlight” of their day. You will be amazed how much people appreciate small gifts, that even something as little and simple as an orange, can brighten their day 😉
I teach them to always be mindful of their speech. Children are known to blurt out anything that comes to mind immediately, (which can lead to some embarrassing situations at times!) I teach them to stop, and to think twice before speaking. Is it thoughtful? Could this hurt someone’s feelings? Would it be prudent to say it? Is there any benefit to it? (We are still working on this, but never the less I remind them to ask themselves these questions as well as others, before opening their mouth.) Another thing is I remind them that it is rude to cut in when others are talking, and although it is hard, they will need to be patient and hold on to their thoughts before rushing to speak.
Sibling rivalry is common; nevertheless Muslim children fighting with each other in public, may not be the best way to convince outsiders that Islam is a religion of peace lol. I try to remind my kids to be mindful not only with their interactions with others, but with also with each other, and to try to put their differences aside for the sake of the Allah. (For those of you who have seen my kids, before you blow my cover, let me just say that this is also a work in progress ;))
This may be hard for our little explorers who want to touch everything, but I remind them that other people may not be dying to have their stuff autographed with their fingerprints. The rule they need to follow is to ask if it’s ok to touch something before doing so.
These are simple practices, most are based on the Sunnah, while others are just common courtesy and inshaa Allah this can give others a glimpse of what Islam really is about. Do you have any tips you can share to help raise little “Ambassadors of Islam?”
Please comment below inshaAllah, so we can all benefit from each other. Your participation is always appreciated!
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