this aim is considered the most important aim of islamic education, as all other aims stem from this basic one. almighty allah creates spirits with a tendency and disposition to monotheism so worshipping is innate in every human. but, humans need to learn foundations and details of faith. the best time to instill the true belief in the child’s spirit is the first years of his life, because he listens attentively to the parent/educator with all his senses and gives him all his attention. he also accepts teachings without any discussion (). his vivid imagination would help him imagine heaven and hell, horrors of the day of resurrection, angels, jinn and all the concepts and creations that muslims do not see but they believe in, namely ghaib (the unseen).
there are several methods to establish and instill belief:
establishing the correct belief through prompting: the first concept to prompt the child must be monotheism, the absolute oneness of allah (awj) (). the good predecessors used to teach the baby at his first days the word of monotheism by reciting the athan (call to prayer) and iqama () in his ear when he is just born. so that, the oneness of allah is the word that he hears first and foremost. narrated ibn abbas that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: “make a starter with your children’s first word is “la illah illa allah” [there is no god (worthy of worship) but allah] i.e. let these be his first words and exhort them to be their last words at the time of death ().
then they should be taught qur’an: “teaching children the qur’an is a foundation of islam. this way the children will be raised on fitra (natural disposition to worship allah). their hearts will embrace lights of wisdom before inclinations and whims control them” (). it is better than teaching controversies and philosophy (). almighty allah makes qur’an easy to be memorized. the child can memorize a great deal of qur’an with a little effort, if he tries to memorize or study other sciences, he would have to spend many times as much the effort and time he spends in memorizing qur’an (). also, the short suras (chapters of the quran), which the child usually starts with when memorizing, include the foundations of faith (), so the child will learn these foundations as a start through memorizing and meditating the meanings of the verses.
through memorizing qur’an, the child will learn sirrah (biography of the prophet pbuh), battles and life stories of the companions, good predecessors, righteous people, pious and martyrs ().
the parent should talk with the child about the facts of faith and answer his questions honestly. we have a great example in the following hadith (prophetic saying) by the prophet (pbuh) to ibn abbas (ra) ():
on the authority of abu 'abbaas 'abdillaah bin 'abbaas (ra) who said: one day i was behind the prophet (pbhu) [riding on the same mount] and he said: “o young man, i shall teach you some words [of advice]: be mindful of allah and allah will protect you. be mindful of allah and you will find him in front of you. if you ask, then ask allah [alone]; and if you seek help, then seek help from allah [alone]. and know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what allah had already prescribed for you. and if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what allah had already prescribed against you. the pens have been lifted and the pages have dried. (related by at-tirmidhee who said it was a good and sound hadith). another narration, other than that of tirmidhee, reads: be mindful of allah, and you will find him in front of you. recognize and acknowledge allah in times of ease and prosperity, and he will remember you in times of adversity. and know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. and know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease () ().
at the time of the prophet (pbuh) and the time of good predecessors, children used to pray friday payer in congregation and all prayers in the mosque. they used to listen to the prophet’s sermons and hadiths. the parent/educator should talk with his child about heaven and hell. he should describe them to the child in a way that the child would understand, so that he can imagine these concepts and beliefs and be mindful of them.
establishing the correct beliefthrough teaching him thikr (supplications and the remembrance of allah): the aim here is not only to memorize the supplications and prayers of certain times or occasions such as the time of eating, drinking, sleeping and awakening. the parent/educator should teach the child praying and supplicating to allah at times of needs and prosperity, to seek allah’s help whenever and wherever. if they walk in the dark, he should teach him the remembrance of allah and mentioning his exalted names and attributes to resort to him and rely upon him. to teach him to say allah’s name at times of fear and to supplicate at times of sickness. he should learn to call on allah for help, the ruqya (the quranic incantation), tawakul (entrusting allah) and asking for rescue and aid from him alone.
establishing the correct belief through contemplation and reflection: the parent/educator should direct the attention of the child to the phenomenon of the universe and their connection with the oneness of allah. this connection would make the child feel balanced and peaceful. he would feel that he is part of the harmonious parts of the universe (). he should explain to his child that every creation in the universe is glorifying allah and help him to glorify allah too to be part of the harmony of the universe.
the parent can teach the child the names and attributes of allah (awj) through meditating and contemplating the beauty, glory and order of the universe ().
“what we mentioned above should be taught to the child at his early age to memorize and understand by heart. when he grows up, he will understand things step by step. so, the first step is memorizing, understanding, believing then embracing. this is the order of setting and building the belief.” ()
protecting him from shirk (polytheism – the act of worshipping someone of something besides allah) and its methods: some parents might direct the child to fear some people and keep things hidden. this would make the child careful and mindful of pleasing people because he is afraid he might upset them. this would become a habit in the child to the extent that it becomes stronger than being mindful of allah, careful to obey him and fearing his punishment, ie being mindful of people instead of what is basic which is being mindful of the one and only creator allah (awj). this way, the child will learn hypocrisy and work to please people and if they are away, he will not work or do good things because now they cannot see him, or he will work but without wishing and hoping for the reward of allah (awj), rather the reward of people or the money ().
() kaifa nurabi atfalana by mahmoud al-istanbouly: page 48.
() awj: aza-wa-jal[glorified and sublime be he]
() iqamah: readiness call – the call which announces that the imam is ready for congregational worship.
() narrated by al-baihaqi in shoab al-iman: 6/398, al dailamy in al-firdausal by mathur al-khitab: 71/1 (hadith no. 207), al-mubarkfuri in tuhfat al-ahwazy 64/4.
() words of hafez as-siouty, may allah forgive him.
() ihya uloom al-deen by imam al-ghazali: 1/94.
() iejaz al qur’an by mustafa al rafae: page 242.
() mabaheth fi uloom al qur’an by manaa al qattan: page 60.
() ihya uloom al-deen by imam al-ghazali: 3/73.
() ra: radya allah anhu/anha[may allah be pleased with him/her]
() sunnan at-tirmidhee kitab sifat al-qiyamah waraqaa wa al-wara (2516) and musnad ahmad (1/293).
() recorded in musnad ahmad: 1/293, 307.
() kaifa youraby al muslim waladuh by mohamed saeed moulawy: page 119.
() kaifa youraby al muslim waladuh by mohamed saeed moulawy: page 117.
() ihya uloom al-deen by imam al-ghazali: 1/94.
() min akhta'na fi tarbiyat awladna by mohamed al saheem: pages 12-17, 72-76.