As Muslims, we all know the importance of the Salah (prayer). It is the first thing that we will be brought to account for in front of Allah (swt), and is the most important pillar of Islam after the Shahadah.
As such, it is so important that we encourage our children to form the habit of praying, and develop a love for performing Salah. We want them to feel a desire to pray within themselves and long to speak to their Lord, without being compelled to do so by their parents. However, they must understand that it is an obligation to pray, and not a choice.
Here are Ten Ways you can Encourage Your Child to Pray:
Be a Positive Example
As the parent, you are the primary example to your child of what being a Muslim means. If you prioritise the prayer in your day, and do not delay or miss it, your child will grow-up knowing its importance.
You can tell them,
“Allah is waiting for me. I have to go!”
“I have an appointment with Allah. I can’t be late!”
Let them see you praying. Do not hide away in another room, but allow them to witness the prayer, and even take part in it. The Salah should become integrated into their daily routine, as well as yours.
Try to pray in a calm and unrushed manner, so that can experience the beauty of the Salah and the peace it brings.
It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“Teach your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them (lightly) if they do not pray when they are 10 years old, and separate them in their beds.”
[Abu Dawod (459) and Ahmad (6650)]
Although it is not necessary for children to pray before seven years-old, it is still wise to create an atmosphere in the home that it encourages them to pray when they are young.
Many advise that you wake your children for Fajr from a young age, so that they will become accustomed to waking before dawn, and it will not be difficult for them to establish this habit as they get older and Fajr become obligatory on them.
If you have space, allocate a specific room as a prayer room. If you cannot do this, then try to find a corner of a room that is only for prayer. Children will understand how important the prayer is that it has even been given its own area in the house. Teach the children that this area is only for Salah and must be kept clean and tidy.
You can also encourage children to pray with Islamic toys, DVDs and picture books.
The iPray Salah pad is an innovative way to teach your children how to perform Salah, or press and hold the first button to hear the all the steps for Wudu and Salah! By pressing on the illustrations, your child will hear the dua’s that are to be recited after the adhan, wudhu and during and after Salah. It’s a halal alternative to the ipad and is sure to appeal to today’s technologically-minded kids!
Make it Visual!
Children respond well to visual cues and reward charts.
Encourage your children to pray on time with this Islamic calendar that he can make himself. Hang it up somewhere in the home and it will act as a visual reminder to your child, reminding him of the times of each prayer.
Another way is to make or buy a ‘reward’ chart, like this one from Learning Roots. For every prayer they pray, they put a sticker on the chart until the whole week is filled. You may want to give them a small reward for each chart completed.
Alternatively you can make prayer tree. For every prayer the child does on time, they colour in one leaf green and they know that Allah is happy with them. If the prayer is late they colour in the leaf orange and they are warned that Allah doesn’t like late prayers, and they must try harder. If they miss a prayer, then the leaf is coloured in red, and they are warned that Allah may not be happy with them, and they should go and make Tawbah (repentance).
When your child turns seven years, throw them a “Prayer Party!” Invite all their friends to share in the excitement of this new stage in their life.
Give them their own prayer mat, kufi, hijab, tasbeeh or athann alarm clock. They will be so excited and proud that they can start praying Salah.
Teach the about Allah
Without an understanding of Allah, the prayer becomes just a ritual; a ritual that is lacking a spiritual and emotional connection to their Lord (SWT). From infancy, talk to your children about how Allah made everything, and how Allah provides for them and will protect them. This will inculcate a deep love for Allah in their hearts. As they get older, teach your children Aqeedah (Islamic Creed) to develop their sense of awe and vulnerability when they stand before Allah (swt) on the prayer mat.
Make the Prophet (pbuh) their hero!
Talk about the Prophet (pbuh) in your home. Read stories and talk about his Seerah as part of your normal daily life. As he becomes more beloved to them, they will take him as their role model and want to copy him. They will want to pray because he did!
Tell them the story of Isra Wa’al M’iraj, the night of Ascension, so they can understand why we pray, and that it is at the command of Allah (swt).
It can be a very dramatic jump to go from never praying, to praying all five prayers daily. So start in small steps.
Every 6 months, “gift” your child a new prayer. Begin with the prayers that are easiest to do; like Dhuhr or Asr, and then move onto the others.
This will create an excitement around the prayer, and a sense of anticipation. It also changes the child’s mind-set from something that he HAS to do, to a gift that he has been given.
Although we want our children to love the prayer, there will be times when they feel lazy and do not want to pray. As parent’s it is our responsibility to make sure that they pray, particularly by the time they are ten years-old. Do not allow them to miss the prayer. To establish the habit you must be consistent, no matter what!
However, you must find the balance between forcing your child to pray and giving gentle loving reminders. Every child is different, and as their parent you need to find that balance, unique to your child, that will encourage them to stop what they’re doing and perform Salah.
One way of encouraging a positive attitude to the prayer, is to connect the Salah with time together as a family.
Try to pray at least once a day as a family, with the father leading the prayer. If your child is able, give him the responsibility of making the Athaan (call the prayer). Having a role in the prayer is a great way to boost a child’s confidence and build connection to the Salah.
Take your children to the Friday prayer and Eid prayers as often as possible. The power of seeing a whole community praying together is so important and will give them a strong sense of identity.
As with everything, we must turn back to Allah (swt), and ask Him to instil a love for Salah in the hearts of our children, and pray that they are of the righteous believers.
رَبِّ هَبْ لِى مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ
English Translation: My Lord! Bless me with righteous offspring
These were our Ten Ways to Encourage Children to Pray in Islam!
How do you motivate your children to pray? Should we be rewarding them when they do, or should they just be doing it for Allah (swt) alone?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.