Ramadan has come and gone and Muslims all around the world eagerly celebrated this month with their families by going to the masjid for Iftars and Taraweeh. We met friends who we had not seen throughout the year, prayed together and enjoyed each another’s company.
However, throughout all of this, there was, and is the ever looming debate about children in the Masjid during Salah. The Masjid is a sanctuary for us, a place of peace and a place to run to, in order to escape the sometimes demanding lives we lead. During the blessed month gone by, families, many children in tow, made their way to the masjid to experience the blessings of praying in jama’ah, which often continues after Ramadan, particularly for the Friday Jumu’ah or other functions held at the masjid throughout the year. However, some of us have little ones that are with us, who are often times described as distractions, because they are the children who would play in the masjid and sometimes make noise by laughing, crying or screaming.
Now, we always read about Fatwas and other people saying to keep your children at home if they are unable to sit quietly in the masjid, or ensure that your children do not play in the masjid. This is completely understandable and we can see why these points are made. However there is also another side to this. We need to understand that not every child is born with a calm, docile temperament, and is fully capable of sitting at one place without making a sound. There are in fact, children who are hyper, over stimulated, easily distracted, curious with just about anything that passes them by and playful. Yes, I am speaking from experience of my own children.
We, the parents of these beautiful, yet hyper children are the ones who get the stares from our fellow masjid goers, the ones whose children are looked at with ‘cut-eye'; we are the ones who are spoken about in online platforms by other parents of calm, quiet children. We are the ones who are held responsible when our children make noise, the ones who are pulled aside by those whose children are grown up and told that we have a responsibility to make sure our children listen, and the ones to be told of the fatwas about keeping our children away if they cannot behave. We are also told that when other people’s children were small, they listened and did as they were told. We are the ones judged, talked about and frowned upon because of the temperament of our children, particularly in the masjid.
And to everyone I say, “WE KNOW!” Don’t you think we know how our children behave? Don’t you think we understand the etiquettes of the masjid? Don’t you think we are aware of IT ALL?
To you, our fellow masjid goers, I say this – We are the parents who struggle and strive our hardest on a daily basis in disciplining and correcting our children. We are the ones who sometimes have a difficult time doing simple tasks that most other parents take for granted. We are the ones who also teach our children how to pray, the importance of Salah and everything they ought to know about Islam, to the best of our abilities. We are the ones who also see our children have complete minds of their own, sometimes no matter what we say or do.
We are the ones who pray in the depths of darkness to Allah begging Him alone to Guide and Help our children. And we are the ones who beg from the deepest parts of our hearts for patience and tolerance to deal with them.
We are the ones who go happily to the masjid with our children only to sometimes leave sad and depressed, feeling as though we are bad parents because of the words of other ‘well-meaning’ parents. We are the ones who become the most hurt because we know sometimes others just don’t understand – and how could they? We are the ones who contemplate leaving our little ones at home for fear of them being overly active distracting others. We are the ones who go to the masjid thinking about what others may say, and thinking about other masjid goers before ourselves. We try our hardest, and constantly remind our children about having proper behaviour both in and out of the masjid and who feel the greatest happiness just seeing them pray Salah without having any distractions and graciously say to ourselves “Alhamdulillah!” and praise our children for it.
Allah says in the Quran:
“And know that your properties and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward.” [Surah Anfal: 28]
However, we as the parents of these beautiful children, strive on a daily basis to ensure that our children accompany us to the masjid for fear of them being led astray by the many outside influences. These are the very same children who are full of love, curiosity and compassion, full of laughter and joy, who try their best in everything they do and who are the happiest to come to the masjid with us. We love our children no matter what and we see it as our duty to make our children – hyperactive or not, LOVE the masjid, just as any other person. The place where solace is found, where the Angels surround, the place we should call our second home. We know that one day, by Allah’s Mercy we will have children who have Taqwa, who love Allah and love Islam, who will uphold the banner of Islam and who will be examples for future generations. Isn’t Guidance Only from Allah?
“The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم came out to us for one of the evening prayers (Maghrib or ‘Isha’), carrying Hasan or Hussain. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم came forward, put the child down and said Takbeer (“Allahu Akbar”) to start the prayer. Then he prostrated during the prayer and his prostration lasted for a long time. My father said: I raised my head and saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, so I went back to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم finished praying, the people said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, during your prayer you prostrated and it took a long time, until we thought that something had happened, or that you were receiving Revelation.’ He said, ‘Nothing happened, but my son was riding on my back and I did not want to hurry him up until he had had enough.’” [Sunan An-Nasa’i].
So my humble advice to my fellow masjid goers is this – be patient with us, understand that parenthood isn’t the easiest thing for some of us. Don’t pity us and look down at us and our children, but rather see us as Muslim parents who want the best for our children, as parents who want nothing more than our children to love Islam, the masjid and their fellow Muslims. Don’t be too judgmental, especially when you haven’t walked in our shoes and know the struggles we face on a daily basis. Don’t blame us but rather give a kind word of encouragement instead. Don’t wish us to leave our children at home, but rather welcome everyone with open arms because the masjid is a community, a place to be as one Ummah. Didn’t our beloved Rasool صلى الله عليه وسلم teach us to be merciful to children? I also guarantee that our children will one day InshaAllah, grow out of their behaviours and be good Muslims – by Allah’s Mercy. I have already seen these changes in my own child, Alhamdulillah.
Islam and innocent Muslims are the world’s biggest targets in today’s society, shouldn’t we then uplift one another as parents of the next generation and be a helping hand for one another in raising our children? Our Ummah needs strong adults who are guiding lights for the children who are growing up in a world of hate and bigotry against them. If our children don’t feel welcomed in our masjid, then where to do we expect them to turn?
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