The Masjid and the Child
Thank Allah, our masjids have become vivid and radiant during the summer because children learning the Qur’an have filled them with bright faces, turning them into rose gardens. It is impossible not to feel excited by this picture, as childhood is the stage when human personality is formed, and when religious education and awareness are internalized. These flowers, i.e. these children, must be nourished with compassion and love; they should also be protected from getting hurt or losing interest due to brusque treatment.
The most important, and secret factor, that helps children obtain an Islamic education is love. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, is our best example in this regard. With his endless humility, he always took good care of children, joked with them, greeted them with salaams, asked how they were doing, and pardoned their mistakes. The children loved him so much that when they saw him they ran toward him and surrounded him; he paid attention to each one of them, asked how they felt, joked with them, and reciprocated their love for him.
Anas, May Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, used to occasionally visit the houses of the Helpers in Madinah, the Ansar. When he arrived in their homes, he greeted children with salaams, patted their heads and prayed for them (Nasai, al-Sunan al-Kubra, VI, 90).
This endless affection and love of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam for children had reached even to the children of Madinah, children who had never seen him before. At his arrival in Madinah from Makkah, they gathered at the outskirts of the city and flew towards the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) like a stream of love. When the Messenger of Allah approached the house of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, small girls from the tribe of Najjar played on the tambourine, while chanting the following: “We are the daughters of Najjar tribe! Muhammad is a wonderful neighbor!” In return, the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said to them:
-Do you love me?
They responded altogether:
-Yes, O Messenger of Allah!
This was an expression of the pure love in their heart. Then the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) responded to these young children with the following answer, full of love and affection:
—Allah knows that by Allah I also love you! By Allah , I also love you! By Allah , I also love you! (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 21/1898; Diyarbekri, Hamis, I, 341).
The Messenger of Allah , who gathered these children around him with this sincere love, taught them Islam in the best manner, with his words and exemplary actions and raised them as heroes who spread Islam around the world.
Concerning this issue, each one of us should be very careful and we should most definitely refrain from inappropriate behavior that may cause children to feel distanced from masaajids or from the Glorious Qur’an. Unfortunately, we can see today that in many masaajids children are reprimanded and discouraged from coming again. Instead of showing interest in them and caring for them, they are pushed outside of the masjid. It is said: “What business do children have here? They talk too much and make too much noise.” This is one of our gravest mistakes; it must be corrected as soon as possible.
The mistaken approach we observe today in our masaajids toward children stems from our ignorance concerning the Sunnah of the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) of Allah . In contrast to what we are doing, the Prophet, sallahu alaihi wa sallam, showed children great tolerance even during salat, a precious prayer, and treated them kindly. What we need to do is to study well the life of the Prophet Muhammad(sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) and follow his example.
Abdullah ibn Shaddad(r.a.) reported from his father as follows: “The Messenger of Allah , sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, came near to us during either the magrib or the isha salat. He took either Hasan or Husain on his shoulders. He stood before the congregation and put the child on the floor. He began the salat with taqbir. During the salat, he stayed in sajdah for a long period. I raised my head and looked. I was so surprised by what I saw. A child had climbed on the back of the Messenger of God and was sitting there. I returned to my sajdah. When the salat ended, some of the Companions asked the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam:
– O Messenger of Allah ! During salat you made such a long sajdah we thought something had happened to you or that a revelation had come from God.
The Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam replied:
– No! None of those happened. However, my grandson climbed on my back. I thought it would be unkind to rush in taking him down before he was content (Nasai, Iftitah, 83).
At times, the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) of Allah allowed a child to pass between his legs while he was standing to offer his prayers instead of breaking the child’s heart by stopping him (Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa, p. 189). Once he offered his prayers while his grandson, Umama, the son of his daughter Zaynab(r.a.), was on his shoulders; he put him on the floor when he bowed and prostrated and put him back on his shoulders when he stood up again (Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, VII, 232).
Similarly, Hasan and Husain, the two grandsons of the Messenger of Allah , may Allah bless them all, climbed on his back while prostrating. When he stood up, he put them gently on the floor and put them again on his back during the next prostration. He continued to do so until the end of the prayer. When he had completed his prayer he did not show any signs of anger to them and had them sit on his knees (Ibn Hanbal, II, 513). Once, he stopped his sermon in the middle and descend from his pulpit to pick up his grandson, whom he had seen stumble while entering the mosque. He embraced his grandson, took him up to the pulpit, and resumed his sermon (Tirmizi, Manaqib, 30/3774).
If the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) of Allah , who was sent by Allah to teach us our religion, treated children with such tolerance and love in the masjid, how can we think that we have the right to throw them out of the masjid, to shout at them or look at them with anger because they are running, laughing or speaking to each other? We must be very careful in this regard, taking into consideration the grave responsibility of turning someone away from the masjid forever. Definitely, the sanctity of the masjid should be respected, however, we discipline children in a manner that should encourage, motivate and inspire them with love to attend the masjid. As these young buds are being watered——they will be the flowers — filling the beds of the gardens of the Masjid, tomorrow.