By Sheikh Idris Watts
The biggest three dangers to your children and family are:
· Peer pressure
Secularism teaches that there is no God but if there is, He is irrelevant. Humans should act as gods by judging, choosing, and defining right and wrong for themselves. They say there are no absolutes and that religious world view from scripture cannot be tolerated.
Barna research found that of the teenagers today who call themselves born again Christians, only nine percent believe there is such a thing as absolute moral truth.
Peer pressure is one of the most effective weapons against children. It is a huge pressure on adults and the principle is that bad will influence the good more than the good will influence the bad. In a secular environment in school do our children bring home swear words and dirty jokes or do the others take home godly behaviour? Which is more likely to occur? It is much easier for our children to be dragged down than for them to drag others up. Children are not miniature adults. In this world of no absolutes, they will easily be tossed to and fro. They need to recognize the difference between right and wrong and choose the right way of thinking before being put under the pressure.
The author says, “Isn’t it interesting how certain matters become indelibly impressed on our minds – even from our childhood years? I believe that observing my father stand up for the truth time and time again in my teenage years was essential to the journey that led me to believe so strongly in my faith and defend it.”
Most parents have left the training of their children to mosques, schools or colleges. Many think they can be absolved because they have spent much money sending their children to Muslim institutions, but again, relegating responsibility is very unwise.
College and university days are difficult for the children but even harder if they live on campus.
Hitler proved that if someone could control the children of a generation that he would own the nation.
Sometimes a child holds back on spiritual training until they think the child is old enough. That is a big mistake, and goes contrary to the Islamic Model. It is never too soon to begin, and the more of the religion they are exposed to, the more they will absorb and become accustomed to. As they learn to apply the truth that they are learning, they will develop the discernment to navigate through the temptations of the world, but this takes time and faithful feeding by the parents. Only as they mature will they be able to influence others in the same way.
The great education debate:
Most families have three options:
i) Public education
ii) Private Muslim schools
iii) Home schooling
Whilst children are still maturing, godly training cannot happen in a secular education system or a compromising Muslim one. The possibility is a combination of home schooling and Muslim schooling.
Home schooling is the best option, following by carefully monitored Muslim schools, followed by secular public education.
Some feel that the influences of a secular education can be offset by being part of a strong Muslim community, but it isn’t enough. It is a known fact that with each passing generation, greater percentages of teenagers brought up in the church abandon Christianity.
If a parent must choose a public education for their children, they must be all the more diligent to train their children to gain the maturity to discern right from wrong. The parents have to be even more careful monitoring materials and teacher attitudes. It may even mean the student has to go into school with a mentality that they are going into enemy territory. Secular humanism dominates, peer pressure is intense and compromise isn’t even an issue because the system is now blatantly anti-God. The system is not their friend and they must be aware and ready to defend themselves.
Often the criticism is: “Your kids should be in public school to witness to the other kids; you need to throw your children into the world so that they will learn to survive; they need to mix with other non-Muslim children so that they can be an example to them.”
The reality is that our children are tossed to and fro and they don’t know where to go unless they have been trained in truth and can recognize the difference between good and bad. This is best done in a sanctifying home based education.
Because most children have a secular education and their fathers have not trained them with an Islamic foundation, we now have a generation of people in religious institutes who are so contaminated by the world that they think like the world. These people then contaminate those around them and their own children.
The teenage rebellious years are due to a lack of being trained to acquire a taste for the things of Allah in the early years. Once children become teenagers it is very difficult to change their behaviour.
Look at your own state: Would you rather read the Quran or a secular magazine? Are you more inclined to spend time praying or watching television? Would you rather go to a lecture or gathering or attend a football game at the stadium? If you have some extra money, would you prefer to buy a religious book or a new piece of furniture or a new car?
Don’t homeschooling and Muslim schools force religion down their throats?
In every instance where I’ve talked to people who have been hurt like that, Islam was imposed legalistically from the top down through pressure and sometimes power trips where the parent tried to make themselves the ultimate authority, rather than the Quran. When parents humbly start with the Word of God and build from the foundation up starting with the logical foundations of creed and teaching the children how to defend the faith by giving them answers to sceptical questions of the age – then it makes a world of difference. Islam is then presented as a logical and defensible faith that makes sense of the world and is confirmed by real observational science, instead of what seems to be a collection of opinions.
Post modernism is the abolition of absolutes. It does not recognize one truth: “If it is right for you, it must be right and don’t let anyone impose on you their own truth.” Tolerance is a buzz word and today we are taught that to say: “It is right” is wrong; rather, one must say, “It is right for me.” Adhering to one teaching is seen as arrogant. They say, “How can you be so pompous to think that you have the truth while I do not”
Process of discipline:
i) Take them aside privately and tell them what they have done is wrong and they will be disciplined
ii) Privately carry out discipline with self-control, explaining first to the child what will happen) e.g., how many smacks, etc.)
iii) Hug the child and tell them you love them
iv) Explain why the discipline had to happen and why their actions were wrong.
v) Talk with them about how they can correct this in the future and suggest alternative actions.
vi) Always ensure understandings are God’s expectations and not our own.
Every time this has happens in the house, you should find that step three will never be evaded by either child or parent. You may find that step three is one of the more special times in the relationship between the parent and child. It says that the parent loves the child unconditionally and that the children know that sincerely. When a child can say that they love you after they received a spanking from you, it means they can sense your sincerity and self-control.
We are to be controlled and not given to temper and certainly not to discipline out of temper or anger.
Childhood obedience comes out of a great respect and love for a father or mother.
We cannot expect our children to be perfect, but we can teach them what their responsibility is to God in relation to their parents.
From the very first time disrespect, talking back, and general dishonour occur, it is a parental duty to teach the child that it is not acceptable to us or God.
Bible says: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)
When the cane is used, it must not be used to physically injure or punish unjustly.
Islamic Stance on hitting:
The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said:
مروا الصبي بالصلاة إذا بلغ سبع سنين و إذا بلغ عشر سنين فاضربوه عليها
“Order your children to pray at the age of seven and when they reach the age of ten strike them if they do not.” (Abū Dāwūd)
(An-Nafrāwī:) “One orders the child to pray with words, then with a threat and warning that they will be hit (if they don’t obey) but without reviling him and if they do not listen to your words and threats then it is permissible to strike them in a way that does not cause injury. That is when they have reached puberty or reached the age of ten. Some of the scholars have said that one may only strike the child three times…on the back and above the clothes of the child (not the bare skin) or on the soles of his feet.”
(al-Adawī:) “(You may hit the child) if one assumes it will benefit; otherwise it is not legislated because striking (the child) is a means and the intent is to get the child to pray. (i.e. if the hitting will not get the child to pray then it is not permissible).”
We need to see ourselves as watchmen, staying awake, and always standing ready to defend our family’s interest in godliness. In this way, we do not labour in vain, because it is with God ultimately at the head that the building is done, and in Him the protection is secure.
Do you trust in your effort and your resources, or are you resting in the Lord as your protector and provider? Are you teaching your children to rest in the Lord on every matter, or take the burdens of life upon themselves? If you are sending your children to a costly private school, is your desire to provide them with a God-centred and uncompromising Islamic education, or do you hope it will lead to a successful and secure future secular vocation? If you are working overtime to pad your retirement account and expand your investment portfolio, are you neglecting the opportunity to mentor your children in the Scripture and thus godliness (which is the best investment in the future you could make!)? Are you striving to provide material things other families are buying for their children (things which evaporate in time), or are you striving to build a spiritual legacy that will never end?
If you are not relying on God in the building of protecting of you household, you’re simply not breathing.
If we think that our efforts are ultimately responsible for the type of legacy we are leaving, we set ourselves up for one of two certain errors: 1) We will either feel guilt and failure when things go bad, or 2) we will feel pride and arrogance when things turn out well. We are called to action and belief but we are entirely dependent on Him for the outcome.
We have to be parents of prayer. Heartfelt prayer expresses our dependence on God to build the house. Earnest prayer praises God for His attributes and acknowledges Him as the Creator and sustainer of all things. Obedient prayer is a response to the perfect and authoritative Word of God which calls us to pray. Regular prayer is a privilege, allowing us to have focussed intimacy with Him and give thanks to Him as our perfect provider of all things.
Not only did the author pray with his wife that God might allow them to have children to train for Him, but they prayed for the children in the womb, when they were born and continue to pray for them daily.
We need to teach them to pray…not meaningless prayers of repeated words, but prayers that reflect the living truth of God’s Word and the deepest desires and passions of our hearts.