The first of his actions for which a servant of All Mighty Allah SWT will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If a believer’s Salah is sound, then all his deeds will be sound, but if it is lacking, then all his deeds will be lacking.
Salah is the first act of worship that was made obligatory by Allah SWT. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and essential to one’s faith. With the world at our feet, it’s becoming more difficult for parents to keep their children grounded and instil in them knowledge and love for Islamic obligations.
Because of its extreme importance to a Muslim, Salah should be one of the first acts of worship that parents should teach their children.
Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As RA narrated that Nabi Muhammad SAW said, “Command your children to make Salah when they become seven years old, and spank them for it (Salah) when they become nine years old, and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately.” (Abu Dawud).
Salah is such a great form of Ibadah, a child must be exposed to the beauty of Salah from a young age even when he doesn’t understand it. Many parents are under the impression that children should begin learning how to perform Salah at the age of seven. But informal instruction in Salah should begin when a child is at least two years old or even younger, when they are visually aware of what takes place around them.
It is only human nature that children love to imitate their parents. In fact, this is one method that Allah SWT has provided us for teaching our youth. Everyday Muslims shared their strategies in getting their children acquainted with Salah from a young age.
Zaheera wrote, “My strategy is encouraging them by way of example from a very young age, getting them a smaller mussallah, reading beside you. I always tell my sons that every time [they] read Salah, Allah Ta’ala fills [their] treasure box with all the things that [they] love & on the day of Qiyamah, Allah Ta’ala will present [it] 2 [them]. Now n again I remind them how big their treasure boxes are. With positive reinforcement the love of Salah will enter heir heart.”
“Leading by example is the best way but to make it easier I made a Salah book and introduced 3 Salahs first…like zuhar, asr, magrib. Making the child tick and one parent sign weekly, this at age 7, at 10 I introduced esha and fajr and eventually it became a habit. Loads of encouragement, rather then fear is very important,” wrote Mumtaz.
Fatima also said that leading by example was the first strategy and getting them their own prayer mats and burqahs was the second. “Third is to allow them to make dua out aloud and allow them to ask for whatever they want. It’s where they learn that Allah is the only provider. And now that my ones are older I encourage them to read Salah in their own rooms on occasion so that they learn its part of THEIR own routine and space instead of mummy’s and papa’s only.”
“I think it’s about the child watching their parent doing the things we want to teach them. The child’s first teacher is the parent he/she spends the most time with,” wrote Aaliyah.
Some parents said when a child watches a parent making Salah they become curious and that opens the doors to explain and teach the ahadeeth at a level the child can understand. Another said parents performing Salah in front of their kids taught them that it was necessary and part of life’s routine, “just like eating”.
Cii presenter, Muallimah Sadiyah agreed with these methods but said the very first step would be teaching a child how to perform whudhu and that it was obligatory to wash in order to perform Salah. “Teach them how to make whudhu then they look forward to reading Salah, so this makes them feel like they’re washing their hands, feet and face for a purpose. Get them into a routine of whudhu first.”
The best way to implement a habit into a child is to make him constantly do it. Another good way of instilling the habit of Salah in a child is to perform the Salah with them.
“The best way to encourage kids to read Salah is by reading the virtues of Salah to them according to their level of understanding. Relate to them a lot of incidents of Salah. Like the story of sheikh Abdul Qadar Jilani RA. That, with Salah everything will be possible. Talk to them about the obedience of Allah Ta’alah, the fear of Allah SWT, the concept of Allah consciousness and read Salah with them, even when they get older, in their adolescent years.”
Children must not just be taught how to read Salah and that it is obligatory but they must want to pray and not just do it out of habit. This is without doubt, the one thing that will ensure consistency even when parents are not watching over them.
Parents’ duas are also very important. Mahomed Hameed suggested that they recite the following dua (Surah Ibraheem 14, ayah 40)
رَبِّ اجْعَلْنِیۡ مُقِیۡمَ الصَّلٰوۃِ وَمِنۡ ذُرِّیَّتِیۡ ٭ۖ رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَآءِ
“O my Lord! make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring O our Lord! and accept Thou my Prayer.”
This dua can be read regularly, at any time of making dua and after the Fard prayer, Muallimah Sadiyah also said.
Other ways of encouraging children are to let them perform Salah in Jamaat together at home, making one of them the imam. This is also a good way to help them develop a steady pace for Salah. Direct them towards Salah at times of need and difficulty. By showing them that the only way to achieve and overcome things is through prayer is through Salah, you emphasize its importance. If kids miss their Salah when they get older, parents should get them to perform the qadha of the missed salah. This way they realise that they will have to perform it later on anyway.
Muallimah Sadiyah stressed that parents should never shout at their children to read Salaah but it should be done softly and gently, especially when waking kids up for Fajr Salaah. “Shouting a child creates resentment – you create anger in that child towards you and instead of looking forward to Salah, they dislike reading Salah.”
Parents shouldn’t become despondent in reminding, advising and disciplining, even if their children neglect their Salah repeatedly, and they shouldn’t despair of their children being rightly guided.