Parents should be Mentors
Teaching your children religion is one of their rights, and a duty of both the mother and the father.
• Anis 7, asked his mother who is Allah. What is the meaning of worship?
• Karim Patel, 11, asks his grandmother, why she reads the Quran everyday?
• Zubeda 14, seeks explanation from her father about why he always insists on her covering her head with the duppatta and does not allow her to wear jeans.
Muslim parents often face similar questions from their children and are unable to give a convincing reply. In times, when sources of information are increasing and knowledge is growing, parents are finding it difficult to impart religious knowledge to their children.
The generation gap, the early maturity of the children due to the exposure to various media and fast changing lifestyles has raised a key issue, “how to impart authentic information about Islam to our children”.
No doubt, Muslim parents have a number of options. It can be a daily lesson in local madrasas, a local masjid Imam giving private lessons in Islam, or Quran classes managed by a Muslim organisation. But these traditional sources are unable to fill the huge gap. For the girl child, the situation is bad as she cannot go to the madrasas alone or cannot be taught by the male Imam.
Bashir Zaveri, 32, product manager with a multi-national company is worried that his two sons are still not aware about the basic Islamic principles and etiquettes. “Since two years, a maulana comes five days in a week and teaches them Quran recitation and basic Islam. But I find that these local Islamic tutors are struggling to survive. Their socio-economic condition is pathetic. So from where they will bring passion to teach Islam?” he asks. When it comes to sending children to local madrasas, the situation is not rosy. These madrasas are dependent on sole teachers. Often, ratio of teacher and student is unmanageable. Many parents in desperation admit their children in the ‘Islamic school’, hoping that their children get the best available Islamic education. But most of them are beyond the reach of a common Muslim.
Then, what is the option for the Muslim parents? What are the alternatives available for them to impart Islamic education to their children? The best option is to find the best available mentor who will teach Islam by practising it. But where to find such mentors? Prophet Muhammad’s (Pbuh) method was mentoring. He is the mentor for all times to come. The only alternative available for the Muslim parents is to reserve few minutes in 24 hours to learn Islam and the life of the Prophet and apply it in their life and then expect the children to follow. Unless parents first acquire knowledge about Islam, the younger generation will not develop a liking for Islamic principles. There are very few centres where adults can learn about Islam. There is a need for centres and libraries where any adult Muslim can go and acquire authentic knowledge about Islam.
Unless Muslim parents themselves do not act as their children’s mentors, children will not understand the essence of Islam. Children expect their parents to have an exemplary character. There is no alternative to the parents’ character. Children always have the ideal image of their parents in mind and most of the time, consciously imitate them.
Mothers have a role to play by teaching the boys core values, but ultimately, the boys will look to their father for the gender role model. One way of maintaining functional presence would be to make sure that the father takes the children to the mosque at least once a day.
On the days the father cannot go to the mosque, he must sit down with the children and relate stories to them about the Prophet (Pbuh), the companions and other famous scholars in Islamic history. Teaching your children religion is one of their rights, and a duty of both the mother and the father.