Think. Learn. Act. Remind.
The other day I was playing the board game Quran Challenge with my four-year-old who insisted that I play properly with him. So when his turn would come, I would ask him basic questions about Islam. Some questions I knew he would be able to answer because they were things I had taught him; other answers of his pleasantly surprised me and I knew I needed to share the questions and the answers so that they could benefit other people.
Of course the important thing is that the best way to teach your children is to be the right kind of role model for them; meaning, you act like you would like them to act. But just talking to them about Islam from time to time, and keeping things simple for them will also work really well to teach them the important concepts, inshAllah.
So here is a basic question-answer list that you might want to use to teach your toddler about Islam:
Q. Who is Allah?
A. Allah made me and you and everyone else. He made the whole world, the animals, the birds, the insects, the trees, the grass, the sky, the clouds. He has made water and rain, the sun, moon, stars and planets, the seas and rivers, the mountains, the desert. Allah made everything and He is the Owner of it all.
Q. Who is Muhammad (SAW)?
A. He is the last Prophet of Allah.
Q. What is a Prophet?
A. A Prophet is somebody who Allah selects to give His message to everyone.
Q. Who brings Allah’s message to the Prophets?
A. The angel Jibreel (AS).
Q. What is the message that Allah has sent to all of us?
A. The message is that there is no God but Allah.
Q. What is the Quran?
A. The Quran is a book full of messages from Allah to all of us. It tells us what to do and what not to do and how to make Allah happy.
Q. Who is Shaytaan (the devil)?
A. He is a bad guy (this was my son’s answer!) … and we shouldn’t listen to him.
Q. Why is Shaytaan bad?
A. Because he did not listen to Allah and he does not want us to listen to Allah.
Q. Why should we listen to Allah?
A. Because Allah has made us.
Q. Why should we do good things?
A. To make Allah happy.
Q. What happens when we do something bad?
A. Allah is not happy with us.
Q. How do we know what things are good for us and which ones are bad?
A. What Allah tells us is good is good for us and what He says is bad is bad for us. We can find out about good and bad things from the Quran and the life and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Q. Who are the people with whom Allah is happy?
A. Those who listen to Allah and do as He says.
Q. What does Allah give as a reward (prize) to the people with whom He is happy?
A. He gives them Jannah.
Q. What is Jannah?
A. It is a place where we can get anything we want! (My son wanted to know if he could get his favorite Mickey Mouse toys and cars in Jannah! I told him he could have anything there that he wanted because Allah has promised that. He was very happy with that answer!)
These were some general questions about the basics of Islam that our children should know. Then there were specific things like the following:
Q. What do you say when you meet someone?
A. Assalam u Alaikum
Q. When somebody says Assalam u Alaikum to you, what should you say?
A. Walaikum Assalam
Q. What month do Muslims fast in?
Q. How many months are there in one Islamic year?
A. 12 months.
Q. Can you name the months?
A. Muharram, Safar, Rabi ul Awwal, Rabi us Thani, Jamadi ul Ula (Awwal), Jamadi ul Ukhra, Rajab, Shaaban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhul Qaa’da (Ziqaad), Dhul Hijjah (Zilhij) — the nasheed by Yusuf Islam on the months in Islam would be helpful to make children learn these names … you can find the video of the nasheed on YouTube.)
Q. How many times do Muslims pray every day?
A. Five times
Q. Can you give me the names of the five daily prayers?
A. Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha (teach the correct order to your children – it would also help if every time you stand up to pray you invite your children to join you and also mention to them the name of each salah. It doesn’t matter if they don’t always join you … they will eventually learn.)
Q. What is the first Surah of the Quran?
A. (I was surprised my son knew this one … he answered this question like this: “Aoodo billahi minash shaytaan nir rajeem, bismillahir rahman nir raheem, Alhamdulillahi rabbil aalamin ….!”) Surah Fatihah —- a follow up question could be to ask him/her to recite the surah for you.
Q. What is the last surah of the Quran?
A. Surah An-Naas. (Recite the surah … maybe you could do it with your child.)
Q. How many surahs are there in the Quran?
A. 114 (try to emphasize the big number … it gets children excited!)
Q. What should we say before we begin anything?
A. Bismillahir Rahman nir Raheem
Q. Name the Prophets and ask your child who they are: Adam (AS), Nuh (AS), Ibrahim (AS), Musa (AS), Isa (AS), Yunus (AS) [tell the story of the fish … they will love it!], Yusuf (AS), Ismail (AS)?
A. They are the Prophets of Allah. (The point here is to make him recognize the names of the Prophets.)
Q. How many Prophets did Allah send to the people since the beginning of time?
A. 124,000! (Tell him/her how big of a number that is.)
Q. Why did Allah send so many Prophets to all the people?
A. Because Allah cares about everyone and loves everyone so much and He wanted everyone to get His message and to do well in life.
Q. What does it mean when we say Allahu Akbar (in salah or adhan and iqamah)?
A. It means “Allah is greater than anything and everything” (note: the word “akbar” does not mean “greatest; it means “greater than” and you can add anything after this and Allah is greater than that thing … for example, if we are thinking about playing with our toys, Allah is greater (and therefore more important than that and we need to stop playing and pray).
Q. When we want something, what should we do?
A. We should ask Allah first and then tell our parents. (My parents taught me this when I was small saying that they did not have the power to get them anything unless Allah willed it … so if I wanted something, I should ask Allah first. That lesson has stuck with me all these years later.)
Q. When we wash our hands or make wudu, should we waste water?
A. No. We should never waste water or food or anything else. (It helps when I tell my son that if we waste water, Allah will not be happy and that there are lots of children in the world who do not even have water to drink let alone wash their hands with … so we should think about those children before we start wasting water!)
Then you could ask questions about duas in everyday life. The best way to teach duas is to read them out loud every time, so that your child hears you do it and learns the words as well the fact that he needs to do it too.
Important duas to teach and that are easy to memorize are the ones for:
a) going to the bathroom and exiting the bathroom
b) starting a meal / eating
c) finishing a meal
d) going to sleep /waking up
e) leaving the house
f) starting a journey / sitting in the car
g) the ayat al kursi
Also keep reading small surahs out loud in front of your child so that he/she learns them too … get him/her to repeat the verses after you … but just reading in front of him/her can help too … for instance, my husband reads surah yasin out loud in the car everyday when he goes to drop my son to school, and my son has picked up the first 4-5 verses quite well just by listening. Also, by showing your children that you consider these things important enough to do them everyday, he/she will learn to give them importance too!
Hope this helps everyone! Please share other ideas or questions/answers that you have used to teach Islam to your children in the comments section below!