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Islamic Education for the Younger Generations

By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani

Could you please list the main point of Islamic education for the younger generations?
Question: I am a teacher of the Holy Qur'an in a mosque. I give short lectures on religious education and manage some programs on certain Islamic occasions. I have read some books on education. I would like you to show me, and those like me, what you consider to be fundamental in the education of the new generation according to the Islamic values in which we believe.
The answer: I thank you for your trusting in me in this concern. As for your question, here are some teachings that we have derived from the Islamic values according to the views of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.):
1. Religious education should be carried out in an attractive manner with clear examples, nice stories, and meaningful gestures of the face and the hands. Such a manner will have a great influence on the new generation and will help to plant and retain these ideas in their minds throughout their lives.
2. You should follow everything you say to your listeners so that they will find in you the practical example and will thus be certain that the religious teachings can be applied.
3. You yourself should believe in what you say to your listeners.
4. You should try to discover what things your listeners like and, through those things, get to their hearts. In this way, you can establish the religious concepts in them.
5. On every occasion, you should try to make them love Allah. Show them the greatness of Allah, His mercy, favor, and love for us. Show them that the cause of some of our problems is due to our ignorance, and the cause of some others is due to our enemies. In general, these problems are tests by which Allah tries our faith and will in this life.
6. Punishing, insulting, and ignoring deprive religious teachings of their spirit.
7. Using puzzles and confusing questions is a good manner in teaching that activates the students’ minds and attracts their attentions to the lectures. However, it would be better to choose questions whose themes concern the practical affairs of life.
8. Graduality, systematicness, and unhurriedness in speaking are important factors in teaching and explaining themes and ideas.
9. Quoting from the stories of the prophets and from the lives of Prophet Muhammad (S) and the infallible imams (a.s.) is very important in teaching.
10. You should praise and appreciate the good features and deeds of your listeners.
11. You should keep your gravity and calmness and not resist an idea put forth by one of your students just because he is a student.
12. You have to watch for any change in the conducts of your students and always pay attention to their affairs.
13. You have to make use of modern equipments, such as computer, internet, films, and recorders, to develop educational methods. It is good to allow the students to work with these equipments by themselves.
14. You should not ask them for fees. You should be satisfied with your sincerity to Allah for He, Who will assure your reward in the afterlife, will assure your livelihood in this life from where you do not expect it.

Could you please give me some educational recommendations for my seven-year-old son?
Question: I would like to ask for prompt educational recommendations with which you may help me deal with my seven-year-old son. With my regards.
The answer:
1. You should discover the hobbies and interests of your child and see which of them attracts him more so that you can direct him rightly.
2. You should explain to your child all the affairs concerning him and how he should behave when at home, in the school, on the street, or at other places.
3. You have to consult with him on issues concerning him.
4. You have to let him do certain things by himself because this will make him self-confident and help him discover his own abilities.
5. The child should be given his due freedom within the possible activities of the family.
6. When explaining to the child an idea or a matter that concerns him, you should use an easy language and understandable examples derived from his daily life.
7. At the same time when you are serious in dealing with your child, you have to be lenient to him too.
8. The child’s being angry, escaping from school, and practicing aggressive acts show that he suffers from a psychological problem. Therefore, instead of beating or scolding him, which will make him mutinous and obdurate, you should identify the cause behind his psychological problem or problems. Being patient and wise in your dealing and talking with him will be the shortest way to get to his heart and then solve his problems radically and constructively.

What are the concerns about putting children in day care or in the care of non muslim-maids and schools in order for both parents to work?
Question: My brother and his wife work in some offices. Their three children are brought up by a foreign maid in their home. She is very fanatic. She sticks to her own habits and traditions. I have another elder brother who sends his children to an Indian school, which is thought to be a suspicious missionary school. My family has objected to the actions of both of my brothers and explained to them the dangers of these matters, but they do not change their situations. One claims that English lessons will bring a good future, and the other says that his salary will not meet their needs if his wife remains at home without a job. This state of my brother reminds me of a wise saying I once heard in one of your lectures, ‘How ignorant man is! He spends his health to get money and then he spends his money to get health!’
The answer: This problem has specific causes and consequences. As for the causes, they are:
1. The foreign cultures and values that have replaced our Islamic culture and values; your brother and his wife, as an example, have taken those cultures and values from school, university, and the media, which are supported by big companies and centers of finance and trade in general and which determine the way of living for people everywhere.
2. The absence of the goal of the afterlife from the lives of such people; they do not care with which face they will meet Allah on the Day of Resurrection.
3. The preference of material interests to moral and religious interests.
As for the consequences, they will result in a bad education of the children. A child who grows up away from morals will be as a curse on his parents who will ultimately spend all their wealth, which they have exerted themselves to collect, on his problems and troubles. It will suffice for such people to read about the horrible accidents published in newspapers and magazines everyday. Such accidents are not committed by religious persons who are educated by religious families.
The dangerous influence of a foreign governess on the future of the growing generation is like the influence of the satellite stations that play with the minds of parents and children according to the will of their managers, who are away from Allah.
I have read an article in al-Ra’iy al-Aam Kuwaiti Newspaper[232] saying: “I wonder how our children will be in this century! Will the satellite stations control them? Or will the networks of the internet direct their conducts? Will our children learn morals and values from those shining satellites?
We fathers have been busy away from them either in looking for a job to increase our incomes or in building a new house, whereas mothers also have become busy running here and there to meet the unending requirements of schools from the kindergarten until the university.
If the father and mother are busy…it is not an excuse. Where is the role of the grandfather and grandmother in teaching our children our true morals and habits?
Where is the role of the mosque and the public meetings in planting values and completing the role of the home?
Where is the role of the teacher and the educationist? I think his name alone is “teacher” while his role is limited to just giving lectures, and thanks to the programs of the Ministry of Education and the modern methods of teaching…!
Yes! We have been in a merry-go-round that does not stop at all! Is it the rule of life? Or it is we who have made this our way of life?
A cry from the heart of a father to every father and everyone in charge: Save our children!”
This is the disease and with it is the call! But as for the solution, it lies in a harmonious expedition to find the Islamic understanding with its active spirit and attractive method for the man of this age. The responsibility of this expedition falls upon all due to the call of the Prophet (S): “Each one of you is a guardian and each one of you is responsible for his subjects”.
The government with all its bodies must set about to undertake the great task of deliverance. Clergymen, speakers, imams of the mosques, teachers of schools and universities, and officials of the media also have great roles in this task.
The task begins by inviting the experts and specialists of each one of these classes to a meeting where this subject will be discussed thoroughly, and then the meeting should present its reports to executive authorities in the government, in the centers of teaching and education, and in the religious establishments.
All the factors that make people desist from religion must be avoided, such as unjustifiable disagreements, manifestations of underdevelopment, and presentations of the religion in old methods; otherwise, the disaster will sit heavily on every family. A poet says, “Let him whose neighbor’s beard is shaved pour water on his beard.”
It is related that Imam Ali (a.s.) has said, ‘How many are the examples, but how little is the taking of lessons from them!’
I would like to invite these two brothers and those like them to know the real value of children, to know the role of intellect and culture in determining their futures, and to know how much love and kindness children need from their parents to live straightforwardly and confidently. If they know the real value of their children, they will not leave them with those who will inject poisons into them. Their example is like the one who draws in darkness and then laughs at his drawing when he looks at it in the light. Except, I fear he will cry bitterly instead of laughing at himself!
It is reported that once a man came with his son to the Prophet (S) and asked him, ‘What is the right of my son on me?’
The Prophet (S) said to him, ‘You should give him a good name, bring him up with good morals, and educate him well.’[233]
O Muslims, have you named your children with good names, brought them up righteously, and educated them well?
[232] In Safar, 1421 AH.
[233] Wassa'il ash-Shia, vol. 15 p.124.

Why my daughter chews her nails and is often absent-minded?
Question: My daughter chews on her nails and she is often absent-minded. What are the causes of this and what is the solution?
The answer: This bad habit shows that either she is worried or she is overstressed in thinking about something that she is hesitant to determine or she suffers from something that she wants to conceal.
You should know the harms of chewing on one’s nails with the teeth. The microbes stick to the tongue and sneak into the body, the stomach, and the intestines and cause troubles and diseases to the digestive system. You should also know that this bad habit shows to others your daughter’s mental state that she wants to hide, and this is a sign of weakness in personality.
The mother has to befriend her daughter until she reveals to her what is hidden in her heart and shares her personal problems. Then, the mother should try to find successful solutions and give effective advices to her daughter.

What is the best way to teach adolescents so that they will follow good advice?
Question: I am a teacher in an intermediate school. The girls whom I teach are in the stage of adolescence, the stage that determines the coming stages of their lives. Would you please tell me how and in what way I should talk with my students so that they will be influenced by my advices?
The answer: First, I would like to pray to Allah for you and everyone who is sincere like you. Your question shows your feeling of responsibility and love towards others’ welfare. As for the answer, here are some points:
1. You should think deeply about the subject you want to explain to your students.
2. You should make use of nice words and in attractive phrases with a voice full of love, kindness, and sympathy.
3. When your students are in a state where they do not want to hear preaching and advising, you should stop advising them until a suitable opportunity arises where they can perceive the goal of your speech, except if you are so eloquent that you can treat their state and make them accept your advices and instructions.
4. Let them find in you a practical example of all that you say to them, and let them feel in you truthfulness and sincerity.
5. When they talk, you should be a good listener and not interrupt them.
6. You should strengthen your friendship with them and through that you will assure the effectiveness of your advices on them.
Through these points, and with an easy and calm manner, you can have a great influence on them. Since you are a teacher, these manners are not limited to giving advices in the school only, but you can also follow them with your children if you are a mother, and you can make use of them in society for the sake of Allah and in the way of goodness and benevolence.

How can we face the mutinous conduct of juveniles and prevent them from making friends with deviants outside the house?
Question: How can we face the mutinous conduct of juveniles and prevent them from making friends with deviants outside the house?
The answer: A youthful person likes for his parents to stop regarding him as they did during childhood. If parents change their view towards him, the relations between them will be normal; otherwise, he will behave in a way that will not please his parents. He may not mean by his mutinous behavior anything else than to prove to his parents that he has passed the stage of childhood and that they have to stop considering him as a child.
This matter forms the basis of the behavioral contradiction between the young and the old. Parents, before their children arrive at this critical stage, should make them understand the concept of adulthood, which is reason, equanimity, and discipline. For example, some youths may think that smoking, shouting loudly, haughtiness, accompanying older youths, and returning home late are the signs of adulthood and independence!
If parents notice these incorrect concepts and try to correct them in their children’s minds before they reach the stage of adolescence, they will clear the way for mutual understanding between them and their children after that stage. But, by being ignorant and indifferent to this, they should not wonder if their obedient children turn upside-down and become mutinous, obstinate, and disobedient.
A mistake may have a prior cause and that cause may lead to one mistake after another. However, standing against the youth is just a mistake resulting from the prior cause.
For example, it is wrong when parents treat their children unequally by preferring their daughters to their sons or vice versa or when they punish their children immediately as soon as they commit a mistake without having warned or advised them before. Parents may abuse their children and call them names because of some defects in the children such as unattractiveness, weakness in study, or a handicap. Some parents may call their children bad names full of hatred and suspicion, such as “liar”, “stupid”, “donkey”, etc. These names and those manners are the first steps in making the youth rebel against Islamic values and their parents. Thus, in fact, parents themselves are the ones who lead their children to be undutiful towards them and to turn their backs on religion as well.
It is very important for parents to show sincere love for their children. They should make their children feel their care by being merry, active, and careful towards their children at home. They should sit with their children, talk about and discuss different subjects with them, and consult with them on their affairs. When the children’s opinions are right, they should be praised, and when their opinions are wrong, they should be taught the right in a pleasant manner that does not demean them or degrade their personalities before others. This conduct can protect the youth from becoming mutinous, going astray, and befriending deviants.

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