I Spy Akhlaq

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What happened to basic Islamic manners among our kids?We can observe in our centers and mosques these days that the young ones from approximately ages 6 to the teen years have this new found attitude of “I rule”. And there we have it, some good Akhlaq, or manners and etiquette is hard to find, like a good game of I spy.

What happened to basic Islamic manners among our kids?

We have all been witness to or a victim of this: a little baby steals your Turba during prayers, puts it directly into her mouth, and leaves you panicky about what to do next because you’re already in Ruku and up next are the Sujood.

Hopefully we have all figured out how to deal with these kinds of minor issues. Unfortunately, however, the issues that we may think are minor – such as, the Turba-eating-baby slowly turns into the toddler who jumps on your back during Sujood, either pulling off your headscarf or knocking you over. Even this can be considered a minor issue though. The issue becomes a little more serious when we see young kids – who are fully aware of right and wrong, good and bad, “Allah Allah time” and not – wreak havoc.

We can observe in our centers and mosques these days that the young ones from approximately ages 6 to the teen years have this new found attitude of “I rule”. And there we have it, some good Akhlaq, or manners and etiquette is hard to find, like a good game of I spy.

These past two months, when Islamic center activity has been at its high due to the commemorations of Muharram and Safar, we are able to observe more the behavior and Akhlaq of our community members since we see them regularly for such a long time. I felt happy with pride when the young boys would get their turn to recite Nauha or Latmiyyat this year, especially in English. I was happy that our younger generations are already pumped and full of the Hussaini spirit – but then those same kids, who give the loudest Narae Hydari, Takbir, and so on, were the same kids I would see running like no tomorrow, bumping into others, hurting smaller children, leaving a mess in the playroom, or being extremely disrespectful to elders when asked to stop talking during the lecture.

I think it is a wonderful thing that our young ones learn the “motivational calls” of our religion or the stories of Islamic history, but isn’t it also important that we teach our young ones to give greetings of Assalam Alaikum to those they meet? Be it an elder, their friends, or any other Muslim they may see, shouldn’t our young ones be aware of what to say? The Holy Prophet said: “When you meet each other, then initiate greeting (Salam) and embrace; and when you separate from each other, then depart with seeking forgiveness.” (Bihar al-Anwar) We need to observe and, more importantly, teach our children these behaviors that our Holy Prophet narrated. Many times we see young children greeting with a push and a shove, no “Salaam” to be found anywhere.

Call me an “old aunty”, but I was bitterly irritated during some of these past Muharram lectures due to non-stop talking coming from chit-chatty young kids sitting smack dab in the middle of the hall, not too far from the speaker himself. Not only was it distracting to the speaker, but also to both the brothers and sisters who were seated anywhere near those children.

Again, we have to remember that instilling good Akhlaq in our children takes patience and, most importantly, the child must be of age to be able to know right from wrong. When we see that the child is able to distinguish what they should be doing from what they shouldn’t be, that is when they need to be reminded – if they still choose to that which they shouldn’t, then consequences should be given. It is a parent-community effort. If a person would rather not deal with the child, then insha’Allah they can engage in some Amr bil Ma’ruf and Nahi anil Munkar (encouraging good and forbidding wrong) with the parents of the child who exhibits unruly behavior.

Another thing which helps is for adults to be the role models and initiators. There is nothing wrong with an adult saying Assalam Alaikum to a 6-year-old. We all know who receives the most reward in exchange of Salam, and there is no mention to age specifications.

Kids who push and shove need to stopped, politely, and be reminded kindly to be careful or to walk instead of run. It is hard to find a young kid who does not push and shove in the Iftar line in the holy month of Ramadan. Then again, it’s hard to find an adult who doesn’t either. Many times we can hear young children rudely yelling or shouting profanity. Many of us have also seen bullying and feelings getting hurt. If we do not learn to teach our children at young ages, what makes us think later on we will be able to wave the magic wand of wonder and make them realize the importance and requirement for good Akhlaq?

We must model the Islamic Akhlaq so that our children can learn. The more we allow a lack of proper Akhlaq, the more we continue to raise kids who are full of knowledge of their religion but do not represent a true believer who is respectful, speaks kindly, and is gentle with his/her fellow brothers and sisters.

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