THE STAGES OF PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN


 

First: Encouraging the child to stand in prayer

When the child starts to be aware of his environment, his parents must ask him to stand with them while performing prayer.

It was reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Whenever a child distinguishes between his right hand and his left hand, command him to perform prayer.”

In their early childhood, children may pass in front of those who are praying, or even sit in front of them or cry. In this case it is all right if the father or mother carries his or her baby while praying if they are worried about him, especially if there is no one at home to take care of him. 1 The fathers should remember that performing the prayers in congregation at the mosque is better for them.

Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “The prayer in congregation is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.” 2

However, the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) advised us to perform the Nawafil (supererogatory prayers) at home so that the child may see his parents praying.

The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Offer some of your prayers (Nawafil) at home, and do not take your houses as graves.” 3

He (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) also said, “If one of you performs an (obligatory) prayer in the mosque, let him perform some (supererogatory) prayers in his house, for Allah will make for him by his prayer goodness in his house.” (Muslim)

It is also preferable for the mother to organize the time of her prayers, i.e. when she offers prayer there should be a member of the family or neighbor to take care of the baby. We also have to know that at this age we must not scorn the child harshly, for anything he does to the one who is praying.

 

Second: Before the age of seven

It is the stage of preparing the child for performing prayer. It includes the following:

(1) Teaching the child some of the simple rulings about purification, for example, precautions against dirtiness, the way to clean himself after answering the call of nature, the manners of going to the bathroom and the necessity of keeping his body and his clothes clean. These manners are as follows:

– Not to enter the bathroom with anything that has Allah’s Name on it,

– To enter with his left foot saying as the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) instructed us – “In the name of Allah. O Allah! I seek refuge in You from wicked and noxious things. (Bukhari)

– Not to talk in the bathroom,

– Not to use his right hand in cleansing himself or to touch his private parts with it for the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “None of you should touch his penis with his right hand while urinating or cleanse the trace of dirty with it.” (Bukhari)

– To come out with his right foot saying, “O (Allah), Forgive me!”

This must go together with explaining to the child how purification is closely related to prayer as in the Qur’anic verse that reads,

“O ye who believe! When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles.” (Surah al-Ma’idah, 5 : 6)

Also, the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Allah does not accept the prayer performed without purification (i.e. ablution). (Muslim)

2. Teaching the child Surah al-Fatihah (the first surah of the Glorious Qur’an) and some of the short surahs in order to prepare him for performing prayer.

3. Teaching the child how to perform Wudu (ablution) and training him to do it practically as the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) used to do with their children.

4. Before the age of seven, we start to teach him how to pray. We encourage him to perform one or more of the obligatory prayers daily, for example, the Morning prayer before going to school and the Noon prayer. However, we must not ask him at the age of seven to perform all the five obligatory prayers at once.

5. It is also important to reward the child for anything he does in this regard even by saying to him, “may Allah bless you” or giving him some gifts.

6. Again it is important to take the child to the Friday prayer after we teach him the good manners of going and staying at the mosque, so that the child may get used to performing such Sunan and may feel that he has started to be part of the community.

 

Third: Between the age of seven to ten

In the haditlh the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) says, “Command your children to perform prayer when they are seven years old, and beat them for not performing it when they are ten years old and arrange their beds separately.” 4

The child learns from this hadith that he has begun the stage of consistently performing the prayers. For this reason, some educators advise parents to make the day when the child reaches seven a very special event in his life.

The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) dedicated three consecutive years for implanting the matter of prayer in the children’s souls and again we say that asking the child to pray must be done in a lenient and loving manner. To calculate the number of times during these three (lunar) years in which the child is asked to pray, we find them around 5310 times.

This means that parents remind and call their children to pray enormous times during this period of their early life. This stresses the importance of repetition in the process of upbringing, and this repetition, however, must go along with a cheerful face and a nice word.

The great companion, Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said, “Preserve your children by (making them get used to) prayer and make them get used to goodness because goodness is a habit. (Tabarani)

Thus goodness is acquired by habituation.

During this period the child learns the rules of purification, how to send blessings on the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) 5, and some of the supplications related to prayer. We should bear in mind that parents will remain forever the practical example for the child.

 

Fourth: Commanding the child to perform prayer and beating him if he does not pray

It is essential in the age of seven to repeat the hadith of the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) that stresses the principle of beating the child after ten as a warning for him against being lured away by the devil. If after this the child insists upon not keeping his prayers, then he must be punished by beating. However, this beating should take place within the limits prescribed by the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam).

So, if the child grows up in a righteous environment where his parents take care of all we have previously mentioned and set a living example for him by keeping their prayers, it will be very difficult to find this child not attached to prayer or not careful to keep it, especially with his parents’ spiritual and material encouragement.

In this stage (after ten), the father and mother and whoever shares in upbringing the children must teach them the rulings of the congregational prayer and those of the supererogatory prayers and the Witr prayer. The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) even taught Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) Istikharah 6 despite his young age.

It is also important to take care of the Dawn and the Evening prayers 7 in this stage and it is important to make the child get used to performing all the obligatory prayers in all circumstances, specially during the exams:

“… and whoever holds in honor the Symbols of a Allah, (in the sacrifice of animals), such (honor) should come truly from piety of heart.” (Surah al-Hajj, 22 : 32)

If the child misses any prayer due to forgetfulness, let him perform it whenever he remembers it. But if he misses it out of indolence, he must be taught to hurry in asking for Allah’s forgiveness and to do good deeds like giving out charity from his pocket money and performing other charitable deeds in the hope that Allah may forgive him.

The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “… And perform a righteous deed after (committing) an evil deed so that it may remove it. (Tirmidhi)

After this we stress the necessity of having parents agree together on the previous steps and the necessity of their cooperation together. They must be a model for their child in every moment and they must often recite these supplications –

“Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes.” (Surah Al-Furqan, 25 : 74)

“O my Lord! Make me one who establishes regular prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring O our Lord! And accept Thou my prayer.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14 : 40)

 

Notes:

  1. It was reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) used to carry Umamah bint al-‘As while performing prayer and when he came to make Ruku” (i.e. to bow down), he would put her down.
  2. Agreed upon.
  3. Agreed upon.
  4. Reported by Abu Dawud. It is important to separate between the children in beds in this age because of the physical changes that take place.
  5. See Sahih Bukhari and Muslim for the ways that how Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) taught us to send blessings on him (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam). We should reject the ways that he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) didn’t taught his (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) compnaions.
  6. A prayer consisting of two Rak’ahs in which the praying person appeals to Allah to guide him on the right way, regarding a certain deed or situation.
  7. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “The most burdensome prayers for the hypocrites are the Evening prayer and the Dawn prayer. If they were to know the blessings they have in store, they would have come to them, even crawling.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

 

Taken from the book : OUR CHILDREN & PRAYER

 

 

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2 thoughts on “THE STAGES OF PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN

  1. Good article, masha Allah. May i suggest you something brother/sister? It’s better to write “Shalallaahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam” instead of SAW or PBUH, insha Allah. In saying a prayer, the more complete, the better. Barakallaahu fiyk..

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