The quintessential needs for survival of a human being are food, clothing, shelter – and the Qur’an.
We are all born with a basic fitrah (disposition). Worshipping Allah (SWT) is embedded in our fitrah and hence the Qur’an is a basic need of our children. If we don’t fulfil it, we deprive them of something vital for their growth.
We might not be able to provide the best food for our children, or the best clothes, or a house with a back yard, but we can provide our children with the best access to the Qur’an.
How can we gather all the resources that Allah (SWT) has given us to feed the hearts of our children with the Qur’an?
1. Make du’a
The first step to attaining a goal, solving problems or completing a task is du’a. Time and again Allah (SWT) has shown in the Qur’an how the Prophets made du’a first. In the Qur’an (Al-Furqan:25-28), we are told how Musa (AS) landed in Madyan and didn’t have a place to sleep or food to eat, and only had the clothes he was wearing. He made du’a and in the next few hours, he was provided with a job, a house to stay in and a wife.
Make these du’as abundantly for your children:
Rabbi j‘alni muqima salaaati wa min dhurriyati rabbana wa taqqabal du’a.
My Lord! Make me keep up my prayers and from my offspring (too) Our Lord! And accept my prayer (Ibrahim:40).
Rabbana hab lana min azwajina wa dhurriyatina qurrata a’yunin wa j’alna li lmutaqina imama
O my Lord! Grant us in our wives and our offspring the joy of our eyes and make us guides to those who guard (against evil) (Al-Furqan:74).
2. Feed your heart with the Qur’an
Build your connection with Allah (SWT), read Qur’an, understand it and make goals for inculcating it in your life. Children are the best copycats and love to copy their parents. Even before you can actively start teaching them, you will be amazed by how these memories of you will warm their hearts and propel them closer to the Qur’an.
Make a daily habit of reading Qur’an; enrol for classes that teach Qur’anic tafseer. If you can’t because of your schedule now, then at least read the translation. Share the wonders that you read in the Qur’an with your child. Recently, I learned in my class that our shadows prostrate to Allah (SWT) in the mornings and afternoons (Surah Raad), which was very exciting for my six year old!
3. Build your connection with them
Before the Messenger of Allah (SAW) started teaching Anas ibn Malik (RA), he built a rapport with him. He showed him how much he (SAW) loved him and how important he was to him (SAW). Once Anas (RA) was secure in his (SAW) love for him and reciprocated it, the “teaching” became easy. This is something that I adopted in my life and I guarantee that it works. SubhanAllah!
4. Start at home
Even before you start looking for a teacher to teach them to read the Qur’an, or schools or programmes for Islamic learning, start at home. We moved quite a bit, and I realised that as places, schools and teachers changed, what remained consistent was me and my children and what I was doing with them. Our home lessons were soothing for the children in the times of emotional turmoil of leaving friends and beloved teachers, and it helped bring us even closer as a family. Teach and review what they have learnt with them. If you are unsure where to start, then scour Youtube videos, and other online resources for interactive activities to get going.
So what will you need?
1. A name
What works best for us is to have a formalised study time with my six year old and we call it “Amma Beti School” (Mother and Daughter School). She loves it as it’s something special between her and me, and this gives your teaching a personal touch.
2. A place and supplies
If you can fix a place where you will conduct the lessons, then great! Otherwise, improvising the place each time you sit to study also adds that adventurous touch to the whole concept. If your children love crafts and activities, stock up on craft supplies.
3. Understand your child
Understanding the manner in which your child enjoys learning is worth every second spent in doing that. If he/she likes storytelling, weave in more stories from the Qur’an, Seerah, history of Islam, the companions, etc. If your child likes a more activity-based study, then make paper boats and cut outs of Nuh’s (AS) ark and the animals, the tree in Jannah which Adam (AS) was forbidden to eat from, etc.
4. Go on field trips
Every school goes on field trips, so why shouldn’t your school go too? I recently studied Surah Hijr, Ibrahim and Nahl. These surahs make excellent themes for field trips, as Allah (SWT) talks about the water cycle, milking the cows and the beautiful times of sunrise and sunset. A trip to explore and find beehives becomes a must in light of Surah An Nahl!
5. Engage their interest
A friend wanted to teach her 12-year-old daughter the tafseer of the Qur’an, so invited all her daughter’s friends over and gifted them folders, pens, etc. as a fun thing to do every Sunday. So now, they happily dress up, meet, talk and when the “class” starts, listen, discuss and learn. They have started asking to cover surahs that they really want to learn about. Alhamdulillah, the Qur’an is starting to enter their hearts.
6. Angels as learning buddies
Let your child know that they are in good company, angels gather around us when we are discussing and learning about the deen of Allah (SWT), covering us with their wings, and that all the fish in the sea are making du’a for us (Bukhari). This will give them much needed encouragement and also a feeling of warmth and security that right now they have Allah’s angels as their learning buddies.
7. Frequency and duration of classes
If you are planning formal lessons, then it is best to start with a once a week, one hour class. Even the Messenger of Allah (SAW) didn’t teach the companions more than three times a week. Keep the lecturing time limited to 15-20 minutes, weaving in discussion, quizzes, activities and worksheets.
8. Structure of the “study time”
Whether you teach your children yourself or you enrol them into programmes and only review their learning with them, have a structure to what you do. Start with the du’as related to knowledge from the Qur’an and Sunnah and get into the habit of reciting them when they sit down to study.
There are, masha Allah, many resources available on the internet. One of my favourites is yemenilinks.com. Use their worksheets and templates. If you are unable to get printouts or downloads, then use their ideas and create your own by using a pen and paper – your mind is the best resource for you and your kids.
The major pitfall we face when teaching Qur’an to our children is losing our focus and consistency, especially when things get overwhelming at home. Sometimes, we fall behind in our grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, or are just emotionally tired, and the one thing that tends to end up being neglected is the Qur’an. But don’t let this happen, it’s not worth it. Instead, be prepared. For those low days, a prepared lesson plan or goal sheet comes in very handy – you just have to pick up your plan book, see what needs be done and get on with it without adding the worry of what to do with your child.
Remember, you are the first, and in many ways the best, teacher your child will ever have. Happy Qur’an time to you!
The Qur’an, Our Children, and Us
Juli Herman recounts her efforts to encourage her children to learn the Qur’an and discovers an important aspect of being a parent along the way.
Continuing our series on the Qur’an and our children, LaYinka Sanni shows how storytelling brings the Qur’an to life for her own young students.
Sana Gul is a happy homemaker and mother of two, with degrees in engineering and a Masters in Business Administration. She is currently pursuing her Diploma in Qur’anic Studies and Sahih Bukhari. She writes regularly for productivemuslim.com and islamiclifestyle4u.wordpress.com. She also conducts online Islamic Studies classes for children who don’t have access to Islamic schools and organisations.