Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Muslim tot school: umm... progressing cluelessly...

I've been happily Muslim for about seven years now (seven years already? where did they go?), but still, since I never had a "Muslim childhood" and have never even stepped inside the Sunday School sessions at the masjid, I'm always worried that I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to Basbusa's upbringing in Islam. I certainly don't know what the "normal" milestones are, in terms of when kids usually start memorizing Quran etc. (I've seen lots of little three-year-olds on YouTube, who have memorized the whole thing already - does that mean most people start their kids at birth?!?) All comments much appreciated on this one!

So far, my main theory is just to make sure she sees plenty of the things I'd like her to do some day, in the hope that she'll start copying me. She knows a few of the motions of prayer, but she's usually more excited about trying to put on one of my scarves than about the prayer itself. (Totally her own idea, by the way - I would never even suggest that such a tiny baby wear a scarf, for prayer or for anything else. She's just copying Mama.) I'd love to have a way to make the actual prayer seem like a super-fun activity that she can't wait to join in with, but no brainwaves yet. (Suggestions? Anybody?)

(And in a random cute aside, I bet you didn't know that these guys are actually praying, right?

"Boy! Akbar! Bear! Akbar!", said Basbusa, as we read about Kanga and Roo's arrival in the forest :)

On days when I'm not working, I always make a point to sit and read Quran before we get caught up in whatever activities and outings we have planned for the day, and she really enjoys that time. I set up two of those wooden Quran-holders on the floor, one for me and one for her, and she goes and gets "her" little Qurans to put on it. While I read aloud, she sits beside me and flips through them, sometimes running her little finger along the page and making random droning noises (cute!). Usually she ends up sitting on my lap, watching me read.

She knows we say "bismillah" before we eat, and "al7amdulillah" afterwards... She knows we don't leave the Quran on the floor... And that's about it, really.

I guess I could start her with stories about the Prophets etc, but for some reason, I'm hesitant to do that. It somehow feels kind of like indoctrination to me, when she's so little. Astaghfir Allah if that's wrong! I think maybe it's because I think the stories of the Prophets are actually pretty complex, in terms of the challenges they faced and how they dealt with them, and that's the important part, rather than the details of the plots of their lives. If I started telling her their stories now, when she's far too young to grasp anything but the most simplistic plot-lines, I feel like I'd be emphasizing the least important part of the whole thing by focusing on plot. And I'm also worried that in an effort to simplify those plots down to toddler-level, they'd all end up sounding something like, "The nice Muslim prophet tried to help the mean non-Muslims, but they didn't believe him, so they all died." Not, not, not-not-not-not-NOT the message I want to be giving her, on so many levels. So I think I'll keep away from those stories for now (unless someone has a brilliantly insightful reason for why I'm misguided? I'm all ears!)

Am I missing anything? Doing anything wrong so far? I'd be hugely grateful for any and all input on this one. Jazaakum Allahu khayr :)


  1. Assalamu Alaikum,
    JazakAllahu Khairun for visiting my blog :) I'm also a convert. And also on a journey to teach my daughter about Islam, I think at such a young age the best way to educate them is through example, like praying (my daughter has learned al-fatihah just from listening to us pray), reading quran, saying duas aloud (morning and evening ones, and before eating, entering washroom etc). I've also been collecting some resources to educate my daughter here if you're interested:

    I'm so glad I found your blog :) I look forward to seeing more of your activities

  2. Thanks so much, Eva! I'm so glad to have your blog to give us me many great resources and ideas that I don't have to create from scratch!