Children in the Masjid
By Um Walid
Nowadays, it is unfortunate that in many masjids both brothers and sisters are annoyed at the presence of children. A cry from a baby or a roaming toddler can sometimes illicit a rude comment. As always, our best example is the prophet (saws). These hadith illustrate the prophet (saws) attitude at the presence of children in the masjid.
The Messenger of Allah (saws) came out to us for one of the two later prayers (dhuhr or asr), carrying Hasan or Hussein. The Prophet (saws) then came to the front and put him down (next to his right foot) said takbir for the prayer and commenced praying. During the prayer, he performed a very long prostration, so I raised my head and there was the child, on the back of the Messenger of Allah (saws), who was in prostration. I then returned to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah (saws) had offered the prayer, the people said: 'O Messenger of Allah! in the middle of your prayer, you performed prostration and lengthened it so much that we thought either something had happened or that you were receiving revelation!' He said: 'Neither was the case. Actually, my son made me his mount, and I did not want to hurry him until he had satisfied his wish.'" (Reported by Nasaa'i, Ibn Asaakir, and Haakim)
"He (the Prophet (saws)) was praying. When he performed sajdah, Hasan and Hussein jumped onto his back. When the people tried to stop them, he gestured them to leave the two alone. After offering his prayer, he placed them in his lap and said, 'Whoever loves me should love these two.'" (Reported by Ibn Khuzaimah and Baihaqi)
"The Messenger of Allah (saws) was praying and he was carrying Umama the daughter of Zainab, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, and she was the daughter of 'As ibn Rabi'a ibn Abdu-Shams. When he prostrated, he put her down, and when he stood, he carried her (on his neck)." (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim)
"The Prophet (saws) said: 'When I stand for prayer, I intend to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut it short, as I dislike to trouble the child's mother.'" (Reported by Bukhari)
Encouraging Children To Pray
Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Asr, narrated that the Apostle of Allah (saw) said, "Command your children to make salah when they become seven years old, and spank them for it (salah) when they become ten years old, and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately." (Abu Dawud)
Informal teaching should start when child starts to show interest usually occurs around the age of two.
Let them pretend to make salah.
Invite them to pray along side and join the family jemaah prayer.
The next step is to learn al-Fatihah which should begin around the age of three or four. Break down the instructions by using reasonable number of verses or small segments.
The practice session should only last between 5 to 15 minutes. At this age consistency is more important than length of practice.
Important to remember that not all children are ready at the same time and that not everyday will the child be ready to learn new materials.
Educational products can assist parents in achieving success with their children because children generally learn in different ways therefore introduction of material through different format (video, coloring book, going to the masjid) will help ease and reinforce the learning process.
One of the most important thing that a parent should do is to praise the child for each accomplished task and encouragement to achieve more success.
Being Fair and Just with Our Children
The Messenger of Allah (saws), also said: "Treat your child equally, treat your child equally, treat your child equally." (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Hibban)
Al-Nu'man ibn Bashir said: "My father conferred upon me a slave as a gift. He took me to Allah Messenger (saws), to get a witness. The Messenger of Allah said, 'Have you given a gift to every son of yours such as you have awarded Al-Nu'man?' He my father said, 'No.' The Messenger of Allah said, 'Be mindful of your obligation to Allah and do justice in respect of your children.' My father came back and revoked his gift." (Agreed upon)
Usama bin Zaid (ra) narrated: Allah Messenger (saws) used to put me on (one of) his thighs and Hasan bin Ali on his other thigh, and then embraced us and said: "O Allah! Please be Merciful to them, as I am merciful to them." (Bukhari)