By Sheikh Idris Watts
Chapter 10: God
Children need to know that there is a moral context to the universe – that there is a plan and a design – that life is not capricious or accidental. There’s a governor, a regulator, a supervisor – a God who really watches and scrutinizes our actions. He sees and He hears. The greatest destroyer of childhood and of its security is purposelessness. The feeling that their existence is not meaningful; that nothing matters. Work, people, possessions, relationships, life itself – none of it matters. The culture teaches them as much and it begins at home.
Divorce is one example. The child whose parents divorce – half the children in America today – thinks that life is a series of accidents. The parents may have had love once, but now it’s gone, so it couldn’t have meant that much to begin with. Nothing lasts. It’s all expendable and so am I.
Materialism is another example: Children see people pouring their lives into ephemeral pursuits. They acquire things that make them feel good (for a minute or two), then move on to the next thing, and the next one after that, and they remain trapped on that consumer treadmill for the rest of their lives.
Man’s inhumanity to man is a third example, the most brutalizing. This is beyond a child’s understanding. The universe is fickle. Bad things happen. I wonder if they’ll happen to me?
Finally there’s death, which is truly incomprehensible to a child. One day you’re alive, the next you’re gone. What’s the point? Nothing matters. Everything ends.
When we teach children about God, however, we are telling them that life is neither purposelessness nor meaningless, and that each one of us is part of a divine plan.
We have to be true believers. Even in marketing they appeal to people like that. Coca-Cola for example says: It the Real Thing. It is almost as if it were being sold as a Higher Truth. Look at Nike: Just Do It! i.e. don’t think about it, don’t overanalyze it. Do it because it makes sense and because you know it’s going to work. That is faith. If you do it, it will happen.
What keeps children going? The same thing. They need to know that life is not capricious, not accidental, but purposeful and meaningful.
A person who allows his child to sit in front of the television or play a video game for hours at a time is sending out the wrong message. Life is meaningless, he is saying. Go ahead and burn five hours in front of the tube. In the end, you die. It’s all stupid.
But a parent who teaches his child about God is on the right track. God is the supreme designer of creation; God has a plan for your life. God gave you unique gifts. God has never created a single person in error. The parent is telling the child that he matters.
The real heroes in life are those who do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Even when no-one is looking. You don’t do it for reward. You do it because it is right and not for an ulterior motive. God always notices no matter what. When the child knows that God is always watching it lends significance to every single action. It all matters.
You have to be real with God and express to Him when you are hurt and down. You have to admit to Him that you weak and are in need of Him or if you do not understand why things are happening in your life around you. Speak to Him from the heart and be honest. Get in touch with the Pure You.
Throughout life you have to ask yourself whether Allah would approve of your actions or not. Instil this in your child and teach him to look deeper. They have to look beyond the surface and then the world will reveal itself to them in its full majesty. They will learn about their own motivation but also about the motivation of others and they will be more forgiving, more resilient, and more human. The most beautiful things in life cannot be touched or seen, like God and love. They are intangible.
Perfection lies in the struggle to do the right thing amidst the predilection to do otherwise. The man who struggles is the real hero. We are not asking our children to be perfect. We are asking them to struggle to become better and realize their full potential. The frightening question we will be faced with on the Day of Judgement will be: “Why were you not as great as you could have been?”
For children God is a comforter. He is not someone to frighten the child every time he does not do what you want. He is always there and the child is never alone. God is with him at all times. By losing ourselves in God, we discover out truest, deepest self. By letting God into our lives we are linking to the Infinite. And by linking to that we inspire this generation and all those who come.