Question:There are parents who allow or insist on their children studying subjects, after school, that are not appropriate for Muslims, e.g. Ballet, Modern dancing, Drama, Band, Piano, Cheer-leading etc.There are parents who allow or insist on their children studying subjects, after school, (not required, but optional), that are not appropriate for Muslims. These include subjects like Ballet, Modern dancing, Drama, Band, Piano, Cheer-leading etc. Often they are paying a fortune for these lessons. I am concerned about what the children are learning from this, other than the subject itself. Many feel the children are little, it’s harmless fun & will learn the right things when they are older. What can we tell the parents? Should we tell the parents anything? Many feel we should worry about ourselves and our families first, set a good example for others to follow.
Jazakallah for the very important query which you have sent to the institute. May Allah Ta’ala guide every one of us to remain on the straight path and to sincerely pay heed to the upbringing of our children. May Allah Ta’ala guide Muslim parents to strive to imbibe an Islamic culture into their children’s lives so that grow up with an Islamic personality which will make them proud to be the flag-bearers of Islam at all times. May Allah Ta’ala guide both the parents and their children to be equipped with the knowledge and the practice of Deen which will stand them in good stead and prepare them to hold their own against the onslaught against Muslims throughout the world. Ameen.
As parents we need to teach our children to LOVE Allah Ta’ala. This love can be developed from infancy if the home is filled with suitable role models. If the child’s socialization process centers around the teachings of Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wassallam) and around Allah Ta’ala’s commandments, the child will learn to love Allah Ta’ala and be prepared to obey HIS commandments. Our children need to learn that Islam is not just a part of a Muslim’s life but a complete way of life. A true Muslim believes that his/her salvation is through the guidance from Allah Ta’ala. To attain this salvation, parents need to teach their children that faith and action have to be combined. Faith without (correct deed) action is of no value and action without faith is of no value to a Muslim either.
A child’s formative years are most important as the child is really an “open slate.” What the parents inscribe on that slate is what will be reflected in the child’s later years. It is stated in a Hadith of Nabi (sallalaahu alayhi wassallam), “What is learned in childhood is like something engraved on a stone.” Imam Ghazali (ra) states that the stone may break up but the engraving will not be obliterated. As Muslims, each one of us have been taught from infancy the kalimah professing ” that there is no GOD but Allah Ta’ala and that Muhammad (sallalaahu alayhi wassallam) is HIS messenger. Parents have to become aware of temptations in life which divert their attention and interest away from why Allah Ta’ala created us. The world has been created for our pleasure and use. We have been created for one reason only: To worship Allah Ta’ala.
We live in a “high pressure” environment and since Allah Ta’ala has endowed us with intelligence and choice, we have to strive to submit to the good Will of Allah Ta’ala and obey His laws.
Islam demands sound conviction and opposes blind imitation. We are enjoined by Islam to employ our faculties to the fullest extent when exercising our freedom of choice. Along with this freedom of choice Allah Ta’ala demands that we fulfill our responsibilities with regards to our children’s moral and spiritual upbringing.
Let us take a good look at the extra-curricular activities you have mentioned below.
Ballet, modern dancing, drama, band, piano and cheer-leading.
All these activities are a pure imitation of the kuffar lifestyles. None of these activities featured in the life of any Sahabaa (RA) and they definitely are not the precepts of Nabi(sallallaahu alayhi wassallam). These activities are of no value at all. They do not add value to the life of the Muslim. Nor will these activities benefit a Muslim in this world or the hereafter. Oh dear, I have probably raised the ire of some parents by saying these activities will not benefit a Muslim in this world.
Why do I raise this point about “benefit?” Firstly, what is the child going to do with the above activities and perhaps qualifications if he/she develops a talent for these activities? Go on to become a professional dancer, musician, actor and cheer leader? Is this child going to earn a living with these so called talents? Will Allah Ta’ala be pleased with these activities and give the parents and child more barakah in this world and a high status in Jannah?
More important, will these activities give the parents a higher rating up the (social) status ladder and thus open up the doors to more non-Islamic past-times? Like, “My child goes for bla bla classes or, my child has won these trophies in the said bla bla competitions.” So my point again is, how will these activities benefit the child? The parents and their children may enjoy fame and develop “pride” which accrues by participating in these activities. Or the child may develop some confidence, competency or dexterity in performing some of these activities.
I challenge every parent whose children are attending these extra curricular activities to examine their hearts and tell themselves that they are earning Allah Ta’ala’s pleasure. We Muslims have the Quran and the Hadith which clearly teach us about what is acceptable and expected of us as Muslims. If we have the wealth and the know-how to send our children to the above mentioned classes, we also have the know-how about what pleases and displeases Allah Ta’ala. If we have the desire turn our children into “something special”, we should also make a point of knowing what is going to make our children “MOST” special to our Creator.
Every Muslim child’s right over his/her parents is that he/she MUST be brought up with DEEN and Deeni(Islamic) knowledge. The child has to have role models around him/her so that he/she can internalize and practice upon the knowledge gained. Depriving one’s child of a Deeni upbringing and education will condemn the parents to Allah Ta’ala’s displeasure. Many parents send their children to Madrassa but that is where the Deeni knowledge and practice starts and ends. When the children get home, another set of rules and culture prevails. The ‘aalim/’alima teaches the child about what is loved and disliked, what is acceptable /not acceptable, what is allowed and what is forbidden by Allah Ta’ala. However, the child finds that at home what is disliked, unacceptable, and forbidden by Allah Ta’ala, prevails in his/her home. Conflicting messages are being given to the child. This creates not only confusion and dissonance in the child’s mind, but the child begins to mistrust his environment as some adults have to be lying and others telling them the truth, but who?
The children are encouraged to put in many hours of practice on learning the lines for their Drama classes. The children who go for these extracurricular activities often take time off or are frequently absent from Madrassa. This means that the parents place greater importance on non-Deeni activities and the child develops a mindset that Madrassa is just a by the way activity of little importance.
Instead of responding to the Adhaan, the child is busy rehearsing on the drum, flute, recorder or synthesizer or whatever musical instrument. A great amount of time, energy, and money is spent by the parents to make sure their child is well prepared for any of these activities. My question is, are they prepared to make an equal investment on the child’s Deeni education and upbringing?
May Allah Ta’ala protect every Muslim girl from becoming a cheer-leader, Ameen. I truly wonder just how many parents are aware of the culture that surrounds this awful fitnah. ( I find it difficult to even call it an activity or sport, because it is neither.) This is a purely American innovation and it is so sad that our parents are ignorant of it’s ramifications. The American girls, (and lets face it, we Muslims shamelessly love to ape our worst enemies) who become cheer leaders do so for many reasons but there is one special reason. They long to be taken to bed by any one of the guys who are in their favorite team whom they are cheering for. The fellows know this for a fact and they take full advantage of the girls. Some parents may say that they supervise their daughters and that this is not the case here in South Africa. Will they please examine their hearts and tell themselves, “What is different in the activities of a cheer-leader in terms of what the girls wear and DO on the field in South Africa and America.” Then let them ask, “What could be different when they go backstage?” The teachers and parents cannot monitor the children all the time, Shaitaan has already got the children in his grasp, all that is now needed is the destruction of the modesty and Imaan of these children.
Lets not fool ourselves. The parents who allow their children to participate in these activities also allow the viewing of television and movies in the same “democratic” manner. The children also read magazines and books which promote the same culture of innovation. Research in western countries has revealed that these leave a lasting impression on the minds of children. These alien western values and culture which are contrary to Allah Ta’ala’s commands take over the children’s lives and mold their minds. The children slowly but surely develop antipathy towards Islamic laws and practices because they begin to find these restrictive, old-fashioned, and unacceptable to their newfound culture. Negative peer pressure is an added insult to the Muslim child’s mind. Parents start crying tears of blood when these same children become defiant and go on to bring into the home more alien practices. The parents then find that they have no control over their children who are openly defiant and dismissive of their Islamic identity.
Parents may often say, “He/she is still small, there is no harm in letting them learn this or that. When they grow up they take life more seriously and do what is necessary.” If you have allowed your child to beat up, bully and steal from an early age, if you have not stopped the child, if you have aided and abetted the wrong behavior, is your child going to give it all up when he/she reaches a maturity? Allah Ta’ala does not misguide anybody. One who has gone astray will not find the right path until she/he makes the choice to find it once again. However, if the child has not been taught to value and desire the right path, will the child really want to find it, belong to it and treasure it?
Remember, what the child has learned, especially when paid for and encouraged by the parents, is engraved in stone.
As parents we need to examine our own upbringing and lifestyle. If our rights were not fulfilled in that we did not have adequate Deeni education as children, are we going to make the same mistake with our children? Unfortunately, so many of our generation grew up with an Indian or western culture. We ourselves need to get back to our Roots. That is to ISLAM. Islam means submission, purity, and obedience to the will of Allah Ta’ala. As Muslims we should stop settling for poor substitutes and actively seek to improve our practice and knowledge of deen. I recall a professor of English who reacted to an adult student’s childish behavior during a tutorial. She said rather sarcastically, “Learning is said to have occurred only when behavior change occurs.” As parents we need to change our behavior from one that apes the kuffar to one which is in keeping with the precepts of Nabi (salallaahu alayhi wassallam).
Alhamdoelillah, there are so many avenues our children can be directed in seeking this knowledge. Our greatest wealth, treasure, and pride can lie in the love of Allah Ta’ala when our children grow up with not only a secular education but also a deeni education. Both of these can serve them and benefit the children and parents in this world and the hereafter, insha’allah. There are many secular extra curricular activities which are acceptable and beneficial for our children. For instance, swimming, marshal arts, athletics, debating, speech training, Math, Science, Quranic, Hadith, Fiqh etc. competitions. Older boys and girls should participate in them separately to maintain modesty and thereby observe Allah Ta’ala’s commandments of “Purdah.” It is also important to teach the children to stop when salaah becomes due, perform salaah and then resume their activity.May Allah guide our children to becoming the flag bearers of Islam.
May Allah Ta’ala grant parents the Hidayah to fulfill their children’s rights over them. The greatest inheritance a parent can leave their child is a Deeni upbringing. A pious child is of the greatest benefit to a parent for it is that same pious offspring who will continue to make Dua for you long after you have left this world. Although Jannah lies under a mother’s feet and the father is the key to Jannah, our children can also be of benefit to us in the qabr and the Aakhirah. May Allah Ta’ala guide every parent to strive to fulfill their children’s right over them. Ameen.
And Allah Knows Best
Checked and approved by: Mufti Ebrahim Desai