Something I see mummas everywhere always wanting help on, is how to teach Islam at home with family.
This topic was raised by an attendee in my Homeschooling With Confidence course, and I thought it would be beneficial to share my (edited and updated) response here with you too, since it is such a common quest so many of us have.
Certainly it has always been something that I’ve been conscious of. Islam is the central part of our lives and we want to raise our children to love our religion and more than that, act upon it; knowing it is Allah Alone who guides.
My advice here is that of a fellow mum just like you. I am not a student of knowledge rather I have to be clear that I’m a layman, so I will always refer you to the people of knowledge because it is beyond my expertise to instruct you in Islamic matters. So please know that what I am offering here is merely general advice from one mother to another in dealing with children and teaching them Islam at home.
The first thing that is important to realise is that Islam starts with us. When we consider how children have learned Islam for centuries, it was through the way in which they were parented; it was through the example that was presented by the behavior of parents; it was by going to those with knowledge and sitting in their lessons.
The idea we have today to make Islamic learning "fun" with crafts or activities is a relatively new concept. I don't say this to mean we shouldn't encourage our children to learn Islam through means they enjoy, not at all (I certainly try to). But only to make the point that much of their learning is through us and our ordinary day to day interactions, behaviors and habits.
Take for example when we want our children to know their adhkar, then if reciting these are an everyday natural part of our lives they will learn the relevant supplications without conscious concerted effort insha'Allah. They will learn these as naturally as they learned to speak without focused effort or training - simply by mimicking us.
When we tuck our children to bed at night - from the day they are born recite the bedtime dua’, recite the Quls and Ayat ul Kursi before they sleep. If this is a habit we haven’t already implemented, then begin with one thing at a time, and slowly build into our routine each supplication so that it is easy for us to become consistent insha’Allah.
Islam is a practical religion. It is a way of life not an abstract series of lessons. Therefore study so that you can put Islam into action insha'Allah (this here is an advice to myself first and foremost before anyone else).
Our own Islamic learning
The first thing we should pay attention to is our own Islamic study. Not our children's.
Are we as a servant of Allah our self, spending time learning about our religion? Have we developed a consistent routine for studying Islam? For reading the Qur'an? For reading the books of the scholars? Attending the classes of the students of knowledge nearby or traveling to them?
Children will follow our example. So when we make the learning of Islam a priority in our lives, our children will see that and follow insha'Allah.
The second point to this is in order to be able to teach our children, we our self must have knowledge first. This only comes with study.
So read the books of the scholars. Alhamdulillah many have been translated for us into English for those of us still learning Arabic. And also listen to the lessons of the scholars - many are available through the internet alhamdulillah and many have been translated by students of knowledge.
Prophetic Guidance for parents and Educators
The best methods to teach our children is to take from the best of examples; the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa salaam. I can not recommend enough this 4 part series of lessons from our noble teacher Moosa Richardson may Allah preserve him, which goes through how we as both parents and educators can teach and cultivate our children. Moosa Richardson is a graduate from Umm al-Qura University in Makkah where he graduated from the faculty of Hadith Sciences.
There are so many points of benefit that you will take from this series, and as a student of knowledge our dear ustadh is in a much better position to advise you on these matters than I ever could.
If you find it difficult to sit with a notebook and pen to make your own notes as you listen, then play these whilst you go about your house-chores; cooking, cleaning or driving running errands.
Prophetic Guidance for parents and educators part 1
Prophetic Guidance for parents and educators part 2
Prophetic Guidance for parents and educators part 3
Prophetic Guidance for parents and educators part 4
Accompanying presentation slides
Attend lessons together
Encourage your children's love for the people of knowledge and seeking knowledge by attending lessons together. If you have no lessons locally that are accessible to you that are sound upon their call to the Qur'an and Sunnah, then listen to classes online. Give your child no matter his age, a notebook and encourage him to listen and write.
I tell my children to write anything they hear that they understand....even if it is only noting words they know when they hear them or random phrases or sentences. The older they get the more they will be able to write bi'ithnillah (and no - spelling is not important when writing notes in a live class - the important matter is the recording of information. So please do not worry yourself or your kids about spelling when note taking during a live class, nor neat penmanship).
Make it a special time for them: provide a nice notebook, a nice set of pens, take them out for dessert after the class ends or give them a small reward for their notes after the class ...some sweets or something else that is simple but they will value.
When children are very young and not yet able to record what they hear (but can read), instead write a list of words that are likely to be said during the class, and simply ask them to tick every time they heard each word; Allah, Islam, salaah, the Prophet (salAllahu alaiyhi wa salam), ibaadah, worship, believers, disbelievers, Qur'an etc etc etc
Make learning interactive
Use lapbooks or notebooking pages to learn various Islamic topics. These are fun engaging ways to record your studies and are often found by children to be more engaging than simply writing into a lined exercise book.
Make posters, folders, wall displays, scrapbooks, crafts and journals.
Follow a sound Islamic book so that you can create your own lessons and activities to help teach each topic in the same way that you would any other subject. If you are not confident in your ability to utilize a book from the Scholars yourself, then find a book that some of the students of knowledge have explained with audio classes available online, and then from that relay it to your children in a way they understand together with some simple activities.
Over on my Instagram Planning Highlight, I shared a brief look at one of the ways I have used an Islamic book to form the basis of my own series of Islamic Studies lessons. You can view that here.
Taalib.com have some excellent self-study books from the works of our scholars that provide comprehension questions throughout to check understanding (some have accompanying workbooks). These can easily be adopted to use with the family, allowing you to study alongside your children; using the books as a lesson guide which you can use to expand upon with child-friendly activities and lessons that your children will enjoy.
Reading aloud is something I always recommend. The benefits of reading together can not be over estimated. Reading Islamic books with your children is an easy way to learn about the religion without the need to prepare a fancy lesson and materials beforehand. The key is to be consistent. It is far better to sit together daily for even just ten minutes than to try to fit in an hour long session that hardly ever happens.
Choose a book that is appropriate to your children's comprehension level, and discuss what you read. Explore together what points of benefit you can extract from what you have read and how you might apply those benefits to your life.
Something we have done is what we have called a "Seerah Breakfast". We gather together a nice weekend breakfast with fresh juice and lay the table with candles. We simply read together, taking turns to read a portion of a children's seerah book. The kids love it.
Islamic Studies with kids ideas
If you're stuck for inspiration, have a peak at some of the things we have done over the years:
- Pillars of Islam craft with template
- Selected supplications from Hisnul Muslim to print
- Controlling Anger workbook
- Hadith of the 4 best women mini scrap book
- Stories of the Prophets timeline pack
- Gregorian and Hijri timeline
- Ramadan board game
- Stories of the Prophets notebooking pages
- Where is Allah?
- Understanding Surah Fatiha
- Using morning basket routine to study tafseer
- Juz Amma workbook
- Qur'an teaches us tree craft
- Conditions, Pillars and Requirements of Prayer folder
- Conditions, Pillars and requirements of Prayer lapbook
- Conditions, Pillars and Requirements of Prayer poster craft
- The shuroot of Salaah are 9 dodecahedron craft
- Shuroot of salaah flip poster / interactive notebook page
- Tawheed folder
Know your intention and stick to those who call to the Qur'an and Sunnah upon the same methodolgy as the Salaf-us-Saalih
We are living in a time where access to Islamic information has never been easier. We literally can access the lessons of the scholars from within our homes subhanAllah, and whilst that is not at all an adequate replacement for actually traveling to sit in the lessons of knowledge, alhamdulillah it does mean we are able to educate ourselves much easier than ever before.
Sisters, be careful from where you take Islamic learning from. Because studying our religion is not like studying the secular subjects. Be careful what books you bring into your home for your children; because whilst there are indeed many many Islamic books designed for children today however not all of them are careful from where they take their sources from and whether they are authentic.
If you want to teach your children Islam, you must ensure what you are learning is correct. You don't want to teach them stories, learn habits or encourage them to memorize dua' for example that are in fact not authentically reported within the Qur'an or the Sunnah. You want to cultivate your family upon truth not falsehood.
So stick to the clear known scholars and students of knowledge because it is they who are the inheritors of the Prophets, and it is they who will guide us to the Qur'an and Sunnah the way it was revealed, understood and practiced by the best of all generations; the companions of the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa salam.