by Umm Ammarah
10 tips to guide parents when buying toys
Every year parents spend billions on toys and gadgets and manufacturers spend millions on marketing it. Whether it is in the tens, twenties, hundreds or thousands that we spend on toys as Muslims, it is an amanat (trust) on how we spend our wealth. We will be accountable to Allah Ta’ala for how we have earned and spent it. We always want the best for our children. We want them to have fun and learn at the same time. Toys are not only getting more expensive but also more sophisticated. Sadly today many toys have become an improved means to an unimproved end.
Remember children learn from play not toys. So a child will often have just as much fun playing with empty boxes as a playhouse than they will from an expensive doll house. There is no guarantee that playing with latest electronic gadgets are more superior to playing with marbles, balls, skipping ropes or tops. In fact the opposite may be true. The actual skills obtained from so called “ancient toys” maybe far superior and beneficial then ipads, playstions and its likes.
Adults as well as children are bombarded daily with information from advertisements, friends, billboards, cartoons etc to feed our desires and needs. Often our purchases are to satisfy our desires rather than our actual needs. That is why so much of effort is put into the packaging and marketing. Both adults and children are the victims. A classic example is the children meal menu which includes a “free toy”.
As parents we have a huge responsibility to procure the best for our children in this world and the Hereafter. The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “The two feet of the son of Adam will not move from near his Lord on the Day of Judgement until he is asked about five (matters) concerning his life – how he spent it; about his youth – how he took care of it; about his wealth – how he earned it; and where he spent it and about that which he acted upon from the knowledge he acquired.” (Hadith-Tirmidh)
Remember buy wisely not on impulsively. Toys should always be useful, practical , educational and most of all enjoyable. Here are some tips which to aid us when buying toys:
1. DISCUSS: Always make mashwera(consultation- discuss with spouse and children) and istikharah(seeking Allah’s Guidance), this will help us to purchase wisely and not impulsively. If we teach our children to discuss and pray before making any decision, they will always do this when they grow up.
2. TOYS 4 KIDS: The toys are meant for your children and not for you. Don’t buy toys that caught the fancy of the child in you. Mum and Dad you have had your turn!
3. DON’T “BUY” LOVE: Every parents needs to earn the love of their children and not “buy” it. Don’t buy their love by buying expensive toys. If you walk that road you will be on a rollercoaster of no return. I’ve seen children have just so much fun with tubs and cartons as with expensive playstations.
4. DON’T COMPETE: Don’t buy to impress cousins, friends and neighbours. Don’t get into a toy buying competition with the Joneses or should we say the Moosa’s, there are NO winners. The Moosa’s got a new toy but then the Syed’s got a bigger one. In response the Khan’s got the latest and the cycle continues. This kind of competition for material things is a typical example of material enslavement. Resist the urge to keep up with the Moosa’s or anyone else for that matter. If the pressure is too intense, consider widening your circle of friends to those who don’t base their relationship with you on how much money you make, how many cars you have or what’s your latest purchases for your spouse and children.
5. AVOID CREDIT: Buy what you can afford. Don’t buy things you don’t need with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like. Remember, if you buy on credit, you will have to deal with the stress of paying off this bill before the interest kicks in. If you don’t, the original price will keep increasing. Not only is this a headache but taking and paying interest is Haram(prohibited) in Islam.
6. NO ENTRY ZONE: Avoid buying battery toys…unless you have a year’s supply of batteries or rechargeable batteries. Avoid buying noisy, unislamic and environmentally unfriendly toys. Don’t buy toys that encourage violence and immodesty. Be alert of what messages we are sending to our innocent children regarding modesty, violence etc. Remember modesty is part of faith.
7. BE CAUTIOUS: Don’t buy toys with small detachable parts for younger children. They could choke on it. Always read packaging carefully. Check for back-up service and guarantees. Always keep your purchases slip in the event you need to return or replace the toy.
8. MODERATION: Limit the amount of toys your children have in circulation. They tend to tire of toys quickly. Keep some toys away in a box and let children make an exchange with you once a week instead of buying all the time, this way they won’t get bored. Give away some toys regularly; some poor children will enjoy them. This will teach our children to share and care.
9. ORGANISE: Don’t allow your children to mess your whole house by letting toys lie everywhere. Teach them to pack away. Keep toys in toy boxes it makes managing easier.
10. BE WISE: Think, research and compare before you buy. Don’t buy toys that will harm their Hereafter for a little fun in the world. Let not today’s joy be tomorrows sorrow. Think and be wise before you buy!
There are cheap and economical ways that children can learn, play and have loads of fun:
Climbing trees and playing outdoors
Crayons ,paint and paper
Building blocks, threading and stacking
Empty boxes, sheets and pegs for houses, tents or garages
Colour paper for mosaics, fans, paper boats, jets, lanterns etc.
Good books to read
Gardening and planting
Sand , shells and buttons
Ball and bat games
Plastic sheets and cardboards can be used for “slip & slide”
Skipping ropes and hoops
Empty cartons, tubs and mats for exciting picnics
Kites,tops, marbles etc
We cannot always satisfy our children desires. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “If the son of Adam had a valley of gold, he would want two valleys…” (Hadith-Bukhari)Children can be very demanding and it is often very difficult not to give into the crying of a toddler, whining of a tween or the sulking of a teenager. We need to be strong and nurture them. That is why Allah Ta’ala put us in the position of shepherds to guide them.
Remember we are not in this world forever. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) advised us to live like travellers who are focused on our destination, and keep very few things that will load us down. Our ultimate destination as Muslims is Jannah (Paradise). We need to keep our eyes focused there!
The words of the Almighty Allah, “Know that the life of this world is merely a game and a diversion and ostentation and a cause of boasting among yourselves and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children: like the plant-growth after rain which delights the cultivators, but then it withers and you see it turning yellow, and then it becomes broken stubble. In the Next World there is terrible punishment but also forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure. The life of this world is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion.” (Quran-57:20)
May Allah Ta’ala guide us in always making the right decisions for our children. Remember to purchase wisely and Insha Allah a toy will always be a joy..