Pious children who are well-brought up and educated can be a crucial asset in a human society, help bringing much needed prosperity, let alone set the standards of truly Islamic and progressive nations  that abide by the law of God and develop life on earth as ordered by the Almighty (SWT). Islam propagates that a genuine Muslim society should be one that, besides abiding by Shariah law, that’s the law of God, pays strict attention to high moral values such as justice, fairness, piety, modesty, brotherhood, love, tolerance, freedom of will and expression, and especially values knowledge and personal advancement. The perfect and efficient establishment of such society requires planting a good seed of Islamic faith and culture in individuals as early as childhood, for the fruit to sprout and radiate its intended impact all over the Ummah and the entire humanity. Pious children who are well-brought up and educated can be a crucial asset in a human society, help bringing much needed prosperity, let alone set the standards of truly Islamic and progressive nations that abide by the law of God and develop life on earth as ordered by the Almighty (SWT). Besides, they are true allurement of life as described in Allah’s divine words: “Wealth and sons are allurement of the life of this world.”- {Quran 18:46} Yet if their upbringing and Islamic education is neglected, they can be a real burden for their parents and their society, and in some cases, a curse befalling both, God forbids. * Setting the Milestone for Islamic culture: Most people here might have already assumed that I will rule out any connection to westernized models of education, games, or entertainment- which is far from true. I cannot reject outrightly all that’s invented by Non-Muslims, however I have to be wise and present to my Muslim children only that which doesn’t contradict the noble mission I’m readying them for. I also have to block any chance of confusion between what I will acquaint them with and need to assert in their mentalities of fine Islamic teachings that promote piety, righteousness, complete submission to Allah, as exemplarily embodied in the character of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Wise parents should provide their children with an attractive Islamic alternative of whatever that doesn’t seem to help shape their Islamic identity. But then again this should come in a smart and friendly manner rather than imposed. The love for what’s Islamic should be developed in our children’s hearts at a very young age. For example do not expect your daughter to react positively to your advice of dressing modestly until she becomes of age and is then required to put on the Hijab if she’s been raised up watching and competing with Barbies’ half-naked outfits. Some would say but this is just a toy. Well yes, but if toys weren’t that influential the world toy industries wouldn’t have been competing to produce what captures the interest and curiosity of children. But I have to stress yjay you have to present an equally pleasant substitute of what you see detrimental to the process of nurturing a sound Muslim personality. Fulla was sure a good invention if you’d ask me. Also watch the quality and quantity otheir daily intake of cartoon movies and what they propagate. Violence and bloodshed are nurtured in children at a very young age when they get accustomed to violent attitudes and scenes- so be ware. Also try to feed their minds and hearts with movies that speak the fine teachings of Islam. Perhaps choices were limited in the past, but nowadays there are many good alternatives for Western invented cultures. Assert in your children the Islamic identity and educate them about the Islamic civilisation so that they may feel proud and connect to their roots. * Islamic Role Model: Children need to follow a role model that they can relate to. So you cannot easily become your child’s role model except in rare cases and at particular age. Yet you can present stories from the Islamic tradition that present the pious and noble character of young Muslims such as Hamza, Ali ibn Ali Taleb, and the young characters of our noble Prophets (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all) Teach them the fine greetings all of which revolve around Dua and Dhikr (remembrance of Allah). Also acquaint them with Islamic manners and fine behaviors; such as kindness, tolerance, freedom, generosity, truthfulness, helpfulness and the like. And pay strict attention to those they mingle with. * Creed and faith: Dawah should start from within the boundaries of one’s home. So one’s children and family should be the first one strives to serve in terms of providing Islamic guidance. Creed, while taken for granted by many people, needs to be taken more seriously. Children should have a strong Islamic creed asserted at a very young age. Parents should also introduce to them and explain the main five pillars of Islam, and the main articles of faith. And don’t forget to teach them the proper recitation of the Quran, you’ll save them a lot of effort required for learning the recitation at older age. And by teaching them proper recitation of the Quran and explaining the meanings of its noble Ayas, you’re planting the main and foremost seed of faith and creed in their heart and mind, one that cannot ever be rooted out, or at least not easily. Invest in your children and save no effort in boosting their Islamic faith and culture. Nurture their hearts and minds with the pure faith of Islam and they shall turn out to be potential assets in the future, proving valuable to their communities and the entire Muslim Ummah. So uphold your mission correctly and do not neglect it, it’s part of your foremost legacy in life, and remember: “All of you are shepherds. Each of you is responsible for his flock. An Amir is a shepherd. A man is a shepherd in respect of his family. The woman is a shepherd in respect of her husband’s house and children. All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock.” [An agreed upon Hadith] May Allah aid your efforts towards what pleases Him-Amen! Wassalaam, Maha Youssuf maha@muslimtribune.org More on that in Part II inshaAllah, so stay tuned. Posted on: January 1, 2012