The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, “Order your children to pray at seven and hit1 them [for not praying] at the age of ten.”
In a recent comparative law class this hadith (narration) was addressed by one of our professors. He writes that the order here is not actually for the child, as a child is not mukalaf (charged with the responsibility to worship), but the order is in fact directed towards the guardian of the child. I pondered on that for some time and thought I would share where my thoughts led me:
Many of us have entered our thirties and found that our twenties went by like a flash. Now our little babies have suddenly grown up into little boys and girls before our very eyes. The thirties is really a strange period and, at times, reminds me of the time right after my high school graduation. What next? What are my plans? However, instead of thinking about my next academic move, financial responsibilities began to haunt me. The rising cost of living, insurance for the family, paying the high price for Islamic Education and future college costs are constantly replayed in my mind. And then, there is that massive demon known as home ownership. We get caught up, careers get tiring and we begin to drown in the sea of just plain survival. Then there is the reality that in a few short years we will be hitting our 50′s and preparing to retire and eventually meet Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He).
The soul takes a hit in the thirties. We become busy and, in many ways, we feel that we’re not respected. If the thirties were a child it would have to be the middle one. Not quite old enough to handle things and not too small to be absolved of responsibility. Thus, and I’ve found this in my own person, taking advice and humbling one’s self is not easy. “I’m thirty not twenty!” I have that one gray hair there on the front of my beard give me some respect.
A Gift for Parents and the Hadith above
Allah (swt) has made dhikr (remembrance) one of the important keys to the believer’s survival. However, during the twenties and thirties it is hard, at times, to take the reminder from others. At twenty, man you’re on top of the globe, and at thirty, you think you understand it. Thus, Allah (swt) in His wisdom and mercy orders us to order our children to pray. This is significant because the order is not directed to the child but to the mother, father or caretaker. Thus, while encouraging our children to pray we might stop and reflect on the following:
- Hey, I don’t even pray
- My prayer is not good
- My relationship with Allah is down the tubes
Ahhhh what mercy! The shot is given and the patient feels nothing. Allah’s love is so great, so powerful and so intense that He knows that at this age we are not trying to hear anything from anybody. Thus, a sweet breeze comes and makes the patient the doctor. Sit, think and ask yourself while advising your little ones to pray, “Who is the order for?” Then remember the verse, “Why do you say what you don’t do?” The order is a gift, for you akhi and ukhti (brother and sister)! However. Allah is so cautious, so concerned with you, that He reminds you by ordering you to remind your little ones. Thus, the speaker is the one spoken to. Really, one has to be awed at this divine wisdom, the mercy and love of Allah (swt).
Thus, Dear Brothers and Sisters
This is a reminder for those of us struggling to swim in the deep sea known as the thirties to come back to Allah (swt). Truly, Allah has blessed our children to be a light for us. If we remind them now we are reminding ourselves and, inshallah (God willing), when we are older they will remind us again.
Some ideas on tying your children’s hearts to the Throne of Allah through prayers:
- Mothers & Fathers take your (one is better) kids to the masjid. Have a competition between them:
Monday is Fatimah’s night
Tuesday is Ahmed’s
Then offer a prize to the one who prayed the best and acted the best in the masjid at the end of the week.
- A Sheikh once told me that whenever his father would take him to the mosque he would give him some sweets after prayer if the boy did good. He told me, and this Sheikh still has a sweet tooth, that after that he associated the masjid with something sweet and nice. Thus, when he grew older he was attached to the masjid and those wonderful memories.
May Allah give us wisdom and patience to be noble parents. May Allah protect our children and make them the next ‘Umar or Aiesha.
Your brother Suhaib
- It should be noted that hitting here, as defined by Islamic Law, means a mere, at the most, spanking. However, if the spanking leaves a mark or a bruise, then it is a prohibited act and denounced by Islam. Thus, from a tap to a light spanking is permitted. [↩]