Sillah

Connection in Prayer

Category: Kids

Inspiring Teens to Become “Establishers of Prayer”

Duaa Haggag, LPC holds a Master’s in Counseling and works in private practice as a child, adolescent, and family therapist in Greater Flint, Michigan. She serves as a Community Educator at The Family & Youth Institute and works with Muslim youth through the Muslim American Society. She is the mother of three girls, ages 16, 14, and 11 who make sure life is always an adventure.

On a hot and sweltering day, the cool shade of a forgiving tree can provide such relief and solace. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ shares with us a vivid image of the day where we will all be filled with fearful anticipation. Only a select few, seven types to be exact, will have the mercy of Allah’s shade, on a day where there is no shade but His. One of these categories is youth who grow up in the worship of Allah ﷻ. 

How can we help youth maintain their relationship with Allah so that it endures the many developmental changes of life? For some, engaging in prayer throughout childhood was easy, perhaps because it was part of a family tradition, or because parental admiration meant so much that they were conditioned to pray like everyone else. But, what happens when the innocence of childhood wanes and the strong need for parental approval wears off? Do these youth carry on prayer as an essential part of their daily living? Do they take ownership of this cornerstone of faith, or do they shed it amongst other things in their quest for independence?

Model Salah as a Source of Comfort & Direction

When the Prophet ﷺ would ask Bilal (ra) to make the call for prayer, he would say, “Relieve us with it, O Bilal.” It is fascinating that the reference to salah here is one of relief, and directly relates to the relief we will also get when we are under Allah’s shade on the Day of Judgment. A key to instilling prayer in teens is the perspective that prayer is a source of comfort, release, and reprieve from the woes of the world and struggles in society. 

The seeds of this perspective start before the teenage years. As caretakers, we must model and show that we look forward to our salah as a way to re-center our vision and as a means of grounding our daily living. In surat Ta-Ha, Allah ﷻ says, “Bid your family to pray, and pray steadfastly yourself. We are not asking you to give Us provision; We provide for you, and the rewards of the Hereafter belong to the devout.”[20: 132] In essence, we must practice praying steadfastly ourselves when we ask our youth to pray, and we do so for our own benefit and reward. 

When our children see us complete our prayers as a rushed after thought or task to “get out of the way,” they will not grow to see it as a worthwhile pursuit in their lifestyle. When teens do not feel invested in salah, or that they will get something out of the experience (both in this life and the next), they will run after alternative activities that give them not only comfort, but purpose. 

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Around the Web – Parenting Edition

One of the most important responsibilities Muslim parents may feel is ensuring that their children hold fast to their practice of salah. There are so many components to this! Making sure your kids remember to pray, pray on time, have wudu, pray even if it’s embarrassing, pray mindfully, pray in the mosque, be willing to stick their feet in a public sink to make wudu. The list goes on. The more you think about it, the more daunting it can be. We took a look at some of the resources available on the internet right now on kids and salah. Honestly the quality resources available aren’t much but we did a round up of what’s there and put the following together. We hope these can give you a little support.

Putting the Parent Back in Parenting

Though for many parents, the urgency of wanting to find a solution for a kid who won’t pray feels imminent, the best place to start with addressing it is actually in oneself. It can be easy to forget, but for children, parents are a huge influence on their religious worldview1This concept is discussed at length in this great article by Yaqeen Institute. Actions, more than words, tell your children about what salah means and value it should hold in their lives. Check  this article and this one for some ways to revive your own perspective on prayer life. For more practical tips look here and here, and for new mothers especially, check out this article. All of these links can help address some issues that may unintentionally translate into one’s children. 

If you’re only going to read one thing …

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