All children are indeed special. They are blessings from Allah s.w.t. who also calls upon us to be responsible for their growth and wellbeing. Through our care and attention, kids are able to learn and develop praiseworthy traits that, by God’s will, can guide them to be virtuous and contributive adults. They are the bearers of the next generation.
In fact, it is part of the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. to show love and care to children. Despite having so many responsibilities, our Prophet would give proper attention, play with and show children love.
As children have curious minds, it is only natural for them to ask a lot of questions in that state of wonder. Our Islamic tradition acknowledges the need to play and build healthy conversations with them. This principle can be seen in many instances from Quranic verses and Prophetic narrations.
While we may have the answers to most of their questions at the back of our minds, it is not as easy to accurately respond to someone who has yet to develop a fully cognitive reasoning ability. Their seemingly ‘philosophical’ questions can sometimes catch us completely off guard.
Although the extent of what we can answer is rather limited, we can answer them concisely or through examples and stories. Conversation with kids is significantly important and is a skill we can learn to adopt.
On that note, we have asked Muslim.Sg followers on IG about difficult questions kids us about Islam:
As talking is one of the direct forms of communication that kids know, we can share with them the different ways of communication. And one of the ways of how Allah communicates with us is through the Holy Quran. Allah guides us and tells us what is good and bad for us in the Quran.
There are many Quranic verses that are in the form of a conversation. Such as the verse:
ٱقْرَأْ بِٱسْمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ
“Read, in the Name of your Lord Who created—”
(Surah Al-’Alaq, 96:1)
By reading the Quran, along with the beautiful and ever-fitting stories, we are able to understand that Allah is All-Merciful and Just and only wants what is good for us. On many occasions, the Quran speaks to us as if the verses are directly talking to us. As Muslims, we believe that the Quran is the book of guidance and a Mu’jizah (miracle). The more we read and couple it with the right understanding, the more we are able to strengthen our connection with Allah s.w.t.
In fact, we can also share Quranic stories and perhaps stories of the righteous people of the past how they invoked and connected to Allah s.w.t. as they journey through both admirable and challenging phases of their lives.
Another particular Quranic verse that speaks to us is the verse:
ٱدْعُونِىٓ أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ
“Call upon Me, I will respond to you.”
(Surah Ghafir, 40:60)
We can share with kids that they can tell everything to Allah. Allah is All-Hearing and All-Seeing. Allah is also All-Wise and All-Knowing. He hears the deepest whispers of our hearts and knows what is best for us.
Solat is in fact the best way to thank Allah s.w.t. We tell kids that Solat is a gift from Allah s.w.t. This is reflected in the epic story of Isra’ Mi’raj as recorded in the Quran and in much more detail in the Hadith (Prophetic narration), where the Prophet s.a.w. ascended to the seven Heavens and all the way to Sidratul Muntaha (a boundary beyond which none may pass). Here, the Prophet s.a.w. was given the divine decree to establish the obligatory prayer five times a day.
Solat is the only decree that was given to the Prophet s.a.w. in the Heavens and without any intermediary. When we pray, we are spiritually connecting to Allah s.w.t.
Think of it this way, when we love someone, we will definitely long to spend time and show our commitment to that person. This is the same about Solat. Through it, we are able to have quality time to express our love, servitude and gratitude to Allah s.w.t, at least 5 times a day.
This is an interesting observation by kids. They may have observed the people around them and did not see much representation from other ethnic communities in the same faith. Islam is not a religion that can be claimed by any ethnic group. It is for all of humanity. This is because the Prophet s.a.w. is sent for all of humanity. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:
وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَـٰكَ إِلَّا كَآفَّةً لِّلنَّاسِ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا
“We have sent you (O Prophet) only as a deliverer of good news and a warner to all of humanity,”
(Surah Saba’, 34:28)
You can also share stories about the Prophet’s companions, some of whom were not just Arabs but are of other ethnicities as well, such as Jews, Africans and Persians. The Prophet s.a.w. also once invited kings from other nations to Islam, some belonging to the eastern roman empire as well.
Around the world today, we can share with kids how Muslims of different ethnic communities around the world are unique and yet share the same faith altogether.
It's important to tell kids that there is no failure in God’s act of creation. Allah creates the universe with wisdom and purpose. Allah does not make any mistakes. However, He allows us, His creations, to make mistakes and experience failure, as part and parcel of life.
Through our failures, we can learn how to rise again and stand on our own two feet. Without making mistakes, we may not know how to seek forgiveness. It may be through these hiccups do we only realise the error in our ways.
While making mistakes is not an easy thing to swallow, what's important is what we should do from that point onwards. These failures are not necessarily the end of everything. The Prophet s.a.w. also experienced so many losses in his life. Yet, he remained steadfast in the path of guidance and fulfilled his epic quest. His life is etched in the Quran to be the best example for the rest of humanity.
It is part of the tendencies of children to ask why and to seek the causes of almost everything. Such state of wonder should not be seen as off-limits, but an opportunity to discuss and introduce the wonders of Islam and our Creator.
We can share with kids that Allah is special and not like us. He is not created, but He creates everything. Allah is the greatest. We can also read to kids one of the easiest Surah to recite, Surah Al-Ikhlas:
قُلْ هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ. ٱللَّهُ ٱلصَّمَدُ. لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ. وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌۢ
Say, “He is Allah—One (and Indivisible); Allah—the Sustainer (needed by all). He has never had offspring, nor was He born. And there is none comparable to Him.”
(Surah Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-4)
Not just thousands, in fact, billions or more. Allah is All-Powerful and He Creates everything.
To answer this question, we can let kids explore their imagination. Have them imagine playing Roblox alone without any other players or bots. Would it be fun to play the game all alone? Imagine living in the world alone, wouldn't it be boring to live without others besides us and all by ourselves? Our family and friends are blessings in our life. Without them, life would lose a lot of meaning.
Living with others is part of Allah’s wisdom in creation. In other words, Allah puts us where we are with others with purpose. We are connected with one another on purpose. Humans are after all more socially inclined. As the saying goes, “no human is an island”. What's important is that we cooperate and come together in goodness and piety. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:
وَتَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلْبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلْإِثْمِ وَٱلْعُدْوَٰنِ
“Cooperate with one another in goodness and righteousness, and do not cooperate in sin and transgression.”
(Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:2)
When the Prophet s.a.w. first arrived in Madinah from Makkah, his first message was about establishing and maintaining peace with others. This includes our interactions with people of other faiths as well. It was one of the most important messages in Islam. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَفْشُوا السَّلاَمَ وَأَطْعِمُوا الطَّعَامَ وَصِلُوا الأَرْحَامَ وَصَلُّوا بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّاسُ نِيَامٌ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ بِسَلاَمٍ
"O people! Spread (the greeting of) peace, feed others, uphold the ties of kinship, and pray during the night when people are sleeping, and you will enter Paradise with peace."
(Sunan Ibn Majah)
There is more than one way to connect with children. It definitely takes effort and creativity to communicate with them. The above are some suggestions of how we can start meaningful conversations with kids. What is also important is for adults to continue to learn and acquire more knowledge.
And Allah knows best.