Salat, as the main pillar of Islam after Shahadah, is the strong foundation that we need to build in our children as parents. Prophet Ibrahim (AS) made Dua to Allah (SW) to help him and his offspring to establish Salat: {My Lord! Make me steadfast in [observing] the Prayer- and also my children, our Lord. And do accept my supplication.} 14:40. Prophet Isma’iel (AS) took the same path and always reminded his family about Salat. Allah (SW) said: {He used to enjoin his family with the Prayer and the Zakat-Charity. Thus, to His Lord, he was ever-pleasing.} 19:55. Allah (SW) directed His last prophet and messenger Mohammad (SAAW) to enjoin Salat upon his family as part of his duties and to practice patience while maintaining it, to set an example for others. {Moreover, enjoin the Prayer upon your family, [O Prophet,] and persevere patiently with it…} 20:132.

We all know that few among our children are really practicing the Salat responsibly. I personally feel that parents have some sort of influence on kids till age 10 to 12 to keep up with their prayers, but after that many will fall short practicing it for many reasons. Many of those reasons may rest squarely on our shoulders; reasons such as dads being busy working and not maintaining their fatherly role in nurturing their kids properly, or mothers also busying themselves with work or other things who don’t remind their kids about maintaining Salat. Distractions of life, especially in entertainment or media, sometimes makes it hard on kids who haven’t yet learned how to manage their time properly to devote any time towards Salat on a regular basis. And of course, outside influences of friends or acquaintances who do not provide the best example for one to hold on to Salat but rather end up being a distraction or worse.

I want to touch on two important factors that might produce a better way to teach kids how to maintain their Salat.

The Salat has a direct relationship in establishing the foundation for our purpose in life. If Allah (SW) stated that our purpose is to worship Him, then Salat is the core value that supports that meaning in our life. So, instead of only focusing on the obligated rituals of performing Salat, we also need to focus more on connecting this act of worship to the One whom it is performed for, Allah. Children should grow up knowing Allah, establishing a relationship with Allah, in very positive and loving terms. This means that learning about Allah (SW) through His names and attributes should come first, as Allah (SW) said: {Know well, then, that there is no God but the [One] God. So [steadfastly] seek [much] forgiveness for your sin…} 47:19.

Salat with such understanding should be regarded and taught as a zone for peace for the soul with its Lord. It should be a time and place that you put the worries of life behind you and stand to enrich yourself with a moment of clarity contemplating your relationship with Allah.

In other words, we as parents or educators should master the art of bringing the glorification of Allah into our kids’ hearts, and Salat will be one of the methods to demonstrate this glorification. Next to the glorification of Allah, there is an ethical foundation for performing Salat which we also need to establish with our kids. When Aisha (RAA) asked the prophet (SAAW): “Why are you praying all night until your feet are sore while Allah (SW) has forgiven all your sins?” He (SAAW) replied: “Shouldn’t I be a grateful servant?” The concept of ‘counting your blessings’ in order to also view Salat as a continuous status of gratitude and gratefulness to Him (SW) is an important method of teaching kids to maintain their duties towards Allah (SW).

Salat should also be a habit that is maintained that will help you in producing good deeds and preventing evil ones. Allah (SW) said: {…Indeed, the prayer guards [one] against immorality and evil…} 29:45.

Another important factor that will help our kids maintain their Salat and consider it as an important and precious part of their lives is the practice of Salat from parents themselves.

In all the verses quoted above, the prophets who told their families to maintain Salat were leaders in that themselves, personal examples for them to follow. Children follow and imitate their parents, especially when they are young, so when they see their parents maintaining salat, deriving that zone of peace from salat as a normal daily routine, all that effort, by the will of Allah (SW), will not be wasted. Even in situations when your kids later in life become sporadic in their salat or even stop praying altogether, don’t give up on them or write them off.  I have seen many examples of that early foundation renewing righteousness back into their lives, even after a period of deviation.

Let me end by saying that ethical practices and good manners are the other side of a responsible understanding of Salat. Our prophet (SAAW) was the best of those who performed their duties to Allah (SW) and at the same time was described in the Quran as the one best in ethics.  Allah (SW) said: {For, indeed, you are, most surely, a man of outstanding character.} 68:4.

May Allah (SW) protect our kids and help them hold onto their faith and Salat steadfastly, Ameen.

By Sh. Kifah Mustapha