The Messenger of Allaah said:
“Command your children to make salah when they reach the age of seven and spank them if they leave it off when they reach the age of ten and separate them from each other in the beds.”
(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 407; Abu Dawood, 494. Classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4025)
In explaining the above hadeeth in his lecture; “O My Dear Son”, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi states something to the effect that a child should already know how to perform the salah by the age of 7. Because it is only when a child knows how to pray that you can actually command him to pray.
This is the year that Asmaa turns 7. If we go by the Islamic calendar she is already 7 but she still has a couple more months to go according to the Gregorian calendar.
Asmaa is only too aware of this hadeeth, we refer to it from time to time and from our talks I have gathered that she is waiting for the moment that she turns 7 according to the Gregorian calendar to begin praying all her 5 daily salawat on a regular basis insha-Allah. That is fine with me, so all this while she only joins me in salah on a voluntary basis, ie. whenever she feels like it. It’s only recently that I have made a conscious effort in encouraging her to pray with me for Dhuhr and ‘Asr prayers and at times, for Maghrib.
Alhamdulillah, her process of learning about the salah has been a gradual one;
When she was more than one years old, we were pleasantly surprised when we found her imitating us in making “sujood”, you know, toddler-style; legs straight with only forehead and palms on the ground (smiles). She was our first child, so this was something new to us, but alhamdulillah we soon learnt that almost all little ones do this; ie. imitate their parents in salah. Masha-Allah, isn’t that cute? (smiles)
And then when she was 2, she started copying our recitations especially Surah Al-Fatihah and the other shorter surahs. And Alhamdulillah, some of the earlier surahs she learnt were mostly by ear and we just had to make sure her pronunciation was correct as she got older.
Then when she was 4 years old I happened to be teaching wudu’ and salah to the 1st graders at the weekend Islamic school where we used to live. Asmaa was always interested in the lessons I was preparing for my class and she would actually be the first one to complete my worksheets when I finish printing them. (laughs)
So based upon her own interest, I taught her how to make wudu properly, ensuring that all the necessary parts got wet, I also taught her the correct positions during salah, making sure she does not repeat the common mistakes made by children, for eg. making sure her arms are raised and not on the ground during sujood, that her toes are pointed towards the qiblah and let me tell you that it was quite an adventure teaching her how to sit for tashahud! (smiles)
Earlier this year she learnt the opening du’a and the recitation for tashahud at the weekend Islamic school here and alhamdulillah she now knows the basic requirements for salah for a child her age. Although she has the tashahud memorised, she just needs practise to be able to recite it smoothly, with no long pauses and insha-Allah performing regular salah should do the trick.
Also, my dear daughter can be quite a perfectionist when she wants to be. One day, after performing salat-ul-Dhuhr, I saw tears streaming down her cheeks. Apparently even though I had recited the surahs silently, there were parts when it was sightly “audible” and it disturbed her concentration and messed up her own recitation. I felt bad especially since we’re not supposed to disturb others in our salah and made it a point not to let out any audible sounds during the silent salawat so as not to disturb my sensitive salah partner.
Asmaa then suggested making a Salah lapbook, to better help her in performing her salah. It was a much welcomed suggestion of which I was only too happy to oblige (smiles).
We got to it right away, and I found some really useful stuff from Taibideen Jr’s Islamic Studies Section. The ‘Salat Companion’ was exactly as it’s name implies; user friendly, convenient and handy, and Asmaa would use it as a review tool each time before we perform our salah.
These last few days just looking at Asmaa making wudu, putting on her prayer garments, quietly glancing though her ‘Salat Companion’ while preparing for salah and then seeing her praying her rawatib prayers purely on her own initiative, has indeed been a blessing and a coolness for my eyes…masha-Allah, shukur, alhamdulillah!
It made me have one of ‘those’ special moments that mothers and fathers have from time to time, when we look at our children and realize how much they have grown…(sniff, sniff)
You know what? My first-born is 7 years old, masha-Allah! The reality of that statement brings to mind too many mixed emotions; a sense of pride at her accomplishments thus far, a sense of wonder at how much she has changed over the years, and a deep-rooted sense of concern (translated as constant worrying!) for her that I think will never go away…I know because my own mom still worries about me and all of her children till this very day! But then again, it’s a good type of worry insha-Allah; out of wanting the best for your child, both in this world and in the hereafter…
رَبِّ اجْعَلْنِي مُقِيمَ الصَّلاَةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِي رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَاء
“O my Lord! Make me one who performs As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and (also) from my offspring, our Lord! And accept my invocation. (Surah Ibrahim:40)