All praises be to Allah s.w.t. for granting us this opportunity to gain the barakah of a Friday once more in this new year of 1435 Hijrah. May Allah s.w.t. renew and strengthen our sense of takwa. Hopefully in this new year, we will be more resolute in obeying all of Allah’s commands and be able to avoid all that He has prohibited upon us.
My dear brothers,
Last week we have been reminded of the importance of family in our lives. It is a source of serenity, joy and strength after Allah and his Rasul. Thus, we find that the Anbiya (Prophets) are very concerned about the faith of their families and children, even when they are no longer alive. This can clearly be seen from the story of Prophet Yaakub as mentioned in surah Al-Baqarah, verse 133:
Which means: “Or were you witnesses when death approached Yaakub, when he said to his sons, "What will you worship after me?" They said, "We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq – one God. And we are Muslims [in submission] to Him. "
Subhanallah that was how concerned Prophet Yaakub was towards the faith of his descendents and family. What about us? Are we prepared to be answer to Allah that we have done our very best to strengthen the faith of our children and families? A recent survey conducted by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) found that 60% of Muslims aged between 6-17 years old have yet to receive a proper form of Islamic education. This is something that should be a concern for us as the Muslim community.
How do we want our children to avoid sins and from disobeying Allah’s rules if they have yet to learn what is sinful and its consequences in this world and the hereafter? How can we claim to be a Muslim when there may be a possibility that our family members have yet know about Allah and Rasulullah?
Hence, on this blessed Friday, I would like to call upon all of us as a community to ensure that none of our family members miss the blessed opportunity of understanding the beauty of Islam. Our mosques and private institutions of Islamic education are able to take in 12,000 more students for their various Islamic education programmes. Let us ensure that our children, whose hearts are still pure, are able to maintain their purity through learning about Islam.
Rasulullah s.a.w, in a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, said that every child is born with fitrah, and it is the duty of the parents to shape their minds, worldview and develop their souls. If they are left on their own without any guidance, then the purity of the child will be tainted by his desires (nafs), bad peer influences who may lead the child towards doing bad deeds, as well as syaitan.
Just look at the innocent faces of our children, could we allow them to drift away and eventually drown in bad deeds (maksiat) and possibly face hellfire? Definitely not. Thus equip them with Iman (faith) and awareness of what being a Muslim truly mean. Let their hearts bloom with a deep love for good deeds and ihsan (compassion). Educate them to become insan who are spiritually mature and religiously resilient.
In educating our children, there are several factors that we should be mindful of:
First: Islamic education needs to be supported with practice. It is not enough for us to just send our children to weekend madrasah, hoping that they will become good Muslims with a deep understanding of Islam. Religious classes are stepping stones to help our children recognise their responsibilities. But parents are the key towards encouraging them to apply and uphold what they have learnt. It will be very difficult for children to appreciate and understand solat if their parents adopt a non-chalant attitude towards solat.
Second: We need to assist them in understanding the link between Islamic knowledge and their daily lives. For example, when they learn Science, we can help them to realise the Greatness of Allah s.w.t and His wisdom. Through the study of science, it can strengthen their belief that there exists a bigger power that manages this universe with utmost perfection.
Third: We also need to make charity and performing good deeds as a culture within our family. When we, as parents, make time for volunteer work such as helping those in need, or attend Islamic lectures, or go to the mosque for terawih prayers and qiyam sessions, we should bring our children along. Inculcate in their hearts the habit of carrying out good deeds and acts of compassion. Sometimes without realising it, parents are too busy chasing for rewards (pahala) from their good deeds and they forget to encourage their children to do perform these acts as well. Remember how the Quran tells us the story of how Prophet Ibrahim a.s. built the Kaabah together with his son, Prophet Ismail a.s. This is a reminder that it is very important for us to soften our children’s heart to appreciate the pleasures of carrying out good deeds and make it a habit.
Hopefully, through our diligent efforts to educate our children with Islamic knowledge, they will become a community that remains steadfast and holds true to Islamic teachings. Hopefully with this, our children will develop mature personalities as well as become spiritually mature. May Allah grant from us a gracious community, with individuals who are of noble character. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 8 November 2013 / 4 Muharram 1435