One thing we worked on this past Ramadan alhamdulillah was الصلاة, salah for the kids. On the first day of Ramadan, we bought these prayer mats, each child picking out his own color.
Young children look to their parents for everything and watch with keen interest as parents pray their salah. And after a little while, toddlers go from merely observing to imitating.
Young children will often “pray” by standing, then jumping excitedly into ruku` and from there bouncing enthusiastically into sujud. All they know is saying loudly, “Allahu akbar!”
Then we as parents start slowly teaching them: This is what we say in sujud and in ruku`. This is how we recite Surat Al-Fatiha. This is how many times a day we pray our salah.
When my oldest child turned six a few years ago, my husband began to more seriously and systematically teach him about salah. When I said it’s good that he’s starting early, my husband reminded me, “This is not early. He just turned six, which means that this is the start of his seventh year. Now is the time.”
My husband taught him to call الإقامة, the iqama. My son would repeat it after his father before the salah.
The kids would all pray with us whenever they would see us pray, daily. We prayed صلاة الجماعة as a family, prayer in congregation. My husband explained that the people in the congregation must follow the imam and never speed up faster than him. There is no talking, no fighting, no wrestling in salah, either. We must be disciplined and not get distracted from our purpose, which is to focus on connecting with Allah.
Immediately after the salah ended, each child would jump up happily and run-up to the imam and get a hug and a kiss.
This past month, during Ramadan, we worked on fine-tuning some details. We practiced the order of the steps of الوضوء, wudu. They’d learned wudu last year, but needed a quick review. We went over how many rak`at each salah has, and the start and end of each prayer time (relative to the sun).
Salah, especially salat adh-dhuhr, became part of our homeschool daily, the practical application of everything we were learning in Quran class. In Surat Al-Muddathir, when the people of Jahannam were asked what landed them there, the first answer they gave was:
قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ
“They said, “We were not of those who prayed.”” (Surat Al-Muddathir, 43).
And in a surah they’d learned long ago, Surat Al-Ma`un, Allah says:
فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ (4) الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ (5) الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَاءُونَ (6) وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ (7)
“So woe to those who pray– those who are negligent about their salah. Those who are ostentatious, and prevent even small kindesses.” (Surat Al-Ma`un, 4-7)
So we talked about the concept of النية ,niyya, intention. The concept of الرياء, ostentation and doing things only for show. The relationship between worship of Allah and good action and treatment of people. The heart and the limbs.
Every day, we would finish up homeschool around the time of dhuhr, and we’d pray it in congregation, just me and the kids (my husband was traveling at a certain point).
I asked my oldest to be imam. It’s a different experience to be the imam as opposed to just following as a member of the congregation. Leading versus following. So we honed in on certain particulars of salah: at what point do we sit for the tashahhud? What exactly do we say in the first versus second tashahhud? What does everything we say mean? How do we make a straight line behind the imam?
Leading the salah himself as imam really brought it all together for my son and tied all the things he’d been taught about salah together cohesively. The 8.5-year-old would be in front, then the younger three boys behind him in a (more or less) straight row, then me behind them in the last row. I prayed on my own in the back.
In our homeschool seerah class, we had learned about the command of salah and how it came about (the story of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم being given the command of 50 prayers a day and the words of Prophet Musa عليه السلام and its reduction to 5 prayers a day). We also learned the story of how الأذان , adhan, came about (in the dream of Zayd, as well as Umar), and the installation of Bilal as the first مأذن , mu’adhin, who called the adhan with his beautiful voice.
We learned that Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم found rest and tranquility in salah. He صلى الله عليه وسلم would tell Bilal,
“أرحنا بها يا بلال.”
“Give us rest with it, Bilal.”
As Muslims who love Allah and obey His commandments, and who love Rasullah صلى الله عليه وسلم and follow his sunnah, we, too, pray.
You know how sometimes people say things like, “I didn’t like school much. The stuff they made us learn was so irrelevant and none of it applied to my life.” You ever heard anyone say that?
Yeah. Islamic homeschooling is the exact opposite alhamdulillah. 😀
Everything ties together in a coherent, cohesive way. What is learned is important and is directly applicable in daily life.
Learning Islam is transformative. Alhamdulillah.
We make same du`a Prophet Ibrahim made:
رَبِّ اجْعَلْنِي مُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِي ۚ رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَاءِ
“O my Lord, make me one who establishes the salah, and of my offspring. Our Lord, accept our du`a.” (Surat Ibrahim, 40)