Muslims as a Nation have been commanded by Allah in the Final Revelation to share love, respect, honor and peace among each other. That is how we will successfully be one nation, by sincerely bonding under the common banner of “Laa ilaaha illa-Allah” and nurturing the Islamic brotherhood – uninfluenced by nationality, color, jealousy or envy.
The believers are but brothers, so make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah that you may receive mercy. (Surat al-Hujurat 49:10)
This brotherhood or sisterhood should be nurtured from a young age by parents so that the children are raised with a pure heart for all Muslims. Many parents are often successful at teaching mutual love and care among the family members and friends, however they fail to realize the high importance of extending this love and care for the entire Ummah. As a result, children begin to love others “conditionally”. They restrict their love and affection to their own brothers or sisters, their best friends and so on while neglecting or being less kind to children from other families or those with whom they don’t seem to go along so well. This is a disease that our children are catching up and as parents we must be concerned and work towards raising our children as humble servants of Allah who are merciful to the Ummah. Here are some practical steps to nurture Islamic brotherhood in your children, and remember to also teach your children the various Hadith mentioned here in order to inspire them.
1. SPREADING SALAAM
Teach your children to initiate the salaam to everyone. Spreading salaam is one of the best means to cultivate love and brotherhood among each other.
Messenger of Allah صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم said:
“You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you about something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread salaam among yourselves.” (Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmidhi)
Saying salaam should be habitual to Muslim children. They should greet their parents, relatives, neighbors, little ones and everyone whom they know and also those whom they do not know with warm salaam.
Smiling is a beautiful act of kindness. It reflects the purity in your heart for others, clean from all ill feelings. It makes others comfortable and connected with you. Teach your children to always wear a warm smile on their face. Smiling often will make them gracious and welcoming individuals.
The Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم said: “When you smile to your brother’s face, it is charity.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
3. ASK ALLAH TO BLESS OTHERS WITH MORE
There are always kids who are well off than ours – they have more toys, bigger houses, prettier dresses, fancier shoes and amazing vacations. Children tend to get excited with what their peers possess and start comparing. Some children start harboring ill feelings such as jealousy or even envy secretly in their hearts. And then there are some children who just feel not so fortunate. All of these feelings can be replaced with love and positivity when you teach your child to ask Allah to bless others with more whenever they like something about others. For example, when your child tells you that her classmate won in the class competition ask your child to immediately say “Allahumma barik lahu/ lahaa (may Allah bless him/ her)” for her classmate. Soon your child will learn that a Muslim feel happy for other Muslim’s joys and blessings.
The Prophet Muhammad صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم said: If you see something that you like, then pray for blessing for him.”(Taken from a long hadith narrated by Ahmad, An-nasai and others)
4. WISHING GOOD FOR OTHERS
Brotherhood is strengthened by living selflessly, rejoicing on others’ happiness and desiring for others what we desire for ourselves. Celebrate others’ successes even if it includes your child’s failure. This instills a positive attitude towards competition and a love to see others flourishing. Behaviors often resulting from competition such as putting others down, mocking, teasing, taking pride and feeling arrogant becomes an obstacle in creating a brotherly or sisterly relationship with others. For example, when your child comes home after school and tells you about her classmate who did bad in Math tell her to ask Allah to make it easy for him.
Also, encourage team work and collaboration against competition. Within home among the siblings p+raise each other’s strength without putting one anyone down and work on their weaknesses together. IF your child’s younger sibling is not very good at arts, let your child teach him. While going for shopping, give your older child a chance to choose some clothes or toys for her younger brother or sister so that she feels happy for her sibling’s blessings. Similarly, when given a choice to share something with others encourage your child to give away the best part of the share. Also, when your child is enjoying any blessing that Allah has not blessed others with (even if it’s a cup of warm milk or new clothes), remind her to make du’aa to Allah to bless others with the same blessings. This will make your child compassionate instead of haughty.
The Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم said: “None of you is Truly as believer until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
5. TALKING GOOD ABOUT OTHERS
Children easily feel hurt by those around them especially by other kids. They come to confide in you which is alright as long as they are reasonable. If the conversation turns into hateful comments, backbiting, name-calling and so on then you have to put a period to that and remind them that they are doing wrong to that person by violating their rights as a Muslim and thereby they will be responsible before Allah. You should teach your children to never talk bad about others behind their backs as it strongly disliked by Allah. Talking good about others, both in their presence and absence teaches children to make healthy and trustworthy relationships in life, a very vital component for Islamic brotherhood.
“…And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it” (al-Hujurat, 49:12)
6. GIVING GIFTS AND CHARITY
Being generous is among the remarkable characteristics of a Muslim. Giving gifts demonstrates love, kindness and care. Encourage your child to give gifts to friends, classmates and neighbors on days of Eid and other blessed occasions. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot. A small pouch with little yummy goodies is just as good. Practice charity with your children. Suggest them to save some money each month and towards the end of the month give it to those in need. Give away toys and clothes in charity instead of dumping them in trash. Have your children buy cold water bottles for the labors working out in summer and distribute it to them. You can also make iftar give-aways with your kids and share them with the fasting Muslims in need in Ramadan. Keep looking for any charitable programs or campaigns in your local area and let your children take part in them.
The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم said: “Exchange gifts, as that will lead to increasing your love to one another.” [Bukhari].
7. STAYING CONNECTED WITH UMMAH
Many Muslims are unaware of the sufferings of the Ummah worldwide. Unfortunately, many even choose to remain ignorant and enjoy their comfortable lives that Allah has provided for them without fearing His accountability. Staying connected with the Ummah and knowing their hardships, trying to relieve some of those with whatever means are available to us and making regular du’aa for them regularly is a demand from our faith. Abandoning the Ummah is betraying the Ummah. Sometimes, you have to go beyond the mainstream media to know the frightening reality of the Muslims’ sufferings. Share with your children age-appropriate pictures and don’t hesitate to tell them their story. Make du’aa with your children for them. Teach them about the duty of protecting and defending Muslims when their life, honor or wealth is threatened. Narrate to them the stories of brave Sahabas and fighters of the past. Raise compassionate. responsible, selfless and brave Muslims of tomorrow who love justice and abhor oppression.
The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari, Muslim)