By Aaisha Zafar Islam
With summer vacations and the Holy Month of Ramadhan starting together this year, it is a great time to make sure you keep your children connected to the deen and foster a healthy sense of community in them.
Friday, or Jum’uah is the one day that has a whole chapter in the Qur’an named after it. Allah swt Himself has emphasized the importance of this congregational prayer in the Qur’an:
O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly, yawm al-jumʿua), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew!
And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of Allah: and celebrate the Praises of Allah often (and without stint): that ye may prosper.
—Qur’an, Chapter 62 (Al-Jum’uah), verse 9-10
Taking children to the mosque for Friday prayers can be a daunting task, more so if they are young ones under the age or five. However it is important to keep them connected to their religious roots right from the start. Here are some pointers on making your next Jum’uah in the mosque prayers an easy one.
Preparing for Jum’uah
The Prophet (SAWS) has mentioned special preparations be made for Jum’uah prayers:
O Muslims! Allah swt has made this day a day of Eid. So have a bath on this day, whoever has perfume should apply it, and use the Miswaak.
– (Ibn Maajah)
As parents, it is important to lead by example. If you make an effort to show how special the day is and establish a routine of bathing and wearing clean clothes to go to the mosque, chances are your kids would get in the spirit as well. They have to learn to celebrate the day and accord it the right respect.
Make sure that they have eaten or snacked so hunger doesn’t make them restless during prayers. Give them something healthy and filling instead of sugar-laden cookies or soda. You will need them nourished and settled, not bouncing off the mosque walls in a sugar rush!
Children will have the urge to use the washroom just as the jamaat is about to begin. After bathing them and just before getting out of the house, make sure they’re done with all their needs to last through at least an hour. Change your toddlers diapers at the last moments. Next you can perform your own wudhu and if your children are of appropriate age, supervise their ablutions as well.
In the mosque
While it is good to bring some small toys to the mosque to keep your toddler busy, please refrain from bringing toys or rattles that make a loud noise and disturb other prayers. Dolls and soft toys should NOT be brought to the mosque. I was once aghast when I went for a Jum’uah and saw a toddler pushing her doll in a toy stroller. Yes, we all have them and let our kids play with them, but need we bring such items to the mosque? It doesn’t matter how attached your child may be to her doll or teddy, she can surely stay away from it for the duration of the jamaat?
If you absolutely have to bring a snack to the mosque to keep your child or toddler busy, please make sure it is nut-free and not something that makes a huge mess. Sticky candies and chocolates, cream biscuits should not be brought as a snack to the mosque. And if you do bring in something to eat for your child, keep some extra to offer to other children as well.
Leave the bright/lit spots and spaces under the fan for ladies with little kids. The first time I took my one year old daughter for Jum’uah, we could only find space in a dark spot where it got stuffy. Needless to say it was one long prayer! These are highly coveted spots, but as Muslims we should spare a thought for new mothers and their comfort as well. We should facilitate and appreciate that they have brought their little ones for prayers, instead of ostracizing them. The mosque is for everyone.
You are in the house of Allah swt, nothing else is important, respect the sanctity of a mosque and switch off your cell phones. Silent mode does not count. Also avoid checking on your social media as you wait for the jama’at to begin. You can last that long without connectivity, focus on connecting with your Rabb. Also, do NOT give your cellphones to the kids as a means to keep them occupied.
The mosque is not a place to wear make up! Yes, you should make an effort to come for Jum’uah prayers, it does not mean copious lashings of mascara and the brightest lip possible. We are not here to judge, but loud make up is distracting in a mosque. Same goes for fragrances. The Prophet (SAWS) did say that applying itr was mustahab, not that others in your vicinity should gag on it!
Little Acts of Kindness
Be kind to the little ones. Kids will be kids, they will run around, wiggle through and in between feet, cry, yell, shout and on occasion poke their fingers in places they should not. As adults it is our responsibility to keep them safe. However be gentle on them. Do not admonish them or scold them, reserve your remarks for their guardians to be more vigilant. If they have been busy praying, be more considerate. Mind their child instead of scaring them to cry up a storm! A smile never hurt a child and it is a sadaqah, an easy way to earn your daily quota of hasanat.
Make an effort to come early and stay a while in the mosque. Hurrying to and from the mosque teaches our children that praying in the mosque is an obligation to be performed quickly and cursorily. Again, lead by example, come early enough to listen to the Khutbah, pray and then complete your prayers after the congregation is over. Hurrying out the door as soon as the imam says salam and rushing out is plain bad manners, to others and mostly to Allah swt, the One who created you.
Things happen, as you come to the mosque, you will be met with red signals, traffic snarls, no parking spots left or little children blocking your way as they hop and skip to the mosque. Keep calm, you are with your brothers and sisters in faith and need to be patient with them. All the while remember those tiny faces that are eyeing you for modelling their behaviours on in the coming years.
Scores of believers bowing before Allah in unison is a soul-stirring sight. Being able to participate in it is a privilege, learn and teach your kids to treat it as a way of coming closer to Allah and fellow Muslims as well as strengthen your own ties to deen.
About the author:
Aaisha Zafar Islam is the executive editor of MuslimMoms.ca. These are observations culled from her own trips to the mosque.
What are your tried and tested safe-ways to take your children for Jum’uah prayers? Do you have any pointers to share with other Muslim Moms? Head over to our forums for a lively discussion on all matters parenting and deen.