Understanding and Teaching the Pillars of Faith

01 Belief in Allah
01 Belief in Allah
02 Belief in Angels
03 Belief in Scripture
04 Belief in the Messengers
05 The Belief in the Hereafter
06 Belief in Destiny
The First Pillar

Belief in Allah

Human instinct, cognitive abilities, and religions confirm Allah’s existence. Every creature has an innate tendency to believe in his or her Creator. The thought process infers the presence of a Creator. All revealed religions confirm Allah’s existence. Belief in Allah consists of four basics: the belief in His existence, the belief in His Lordship (i.e. that He is Allah, the Bestower, the Creator, and the Sustainer of everything), the belief in His oneness and worthiness of worship with no associates, and the belief in His perfect and beautiful Names and Traits. We must teach children these four basics so that they grow knowing Allah, glorifying Him, and loving Him. This pillar is the base for the rest of the pillars.

Why Do We Teach Children to Love Allah the Almighty?
  • Because Allah created us in a perfect form, favored us over other creatures, and granted us Islam, the greatest blessing ever. Allah then provided us with favors without us deserving them and promised us Paradise: the reward that manifests His generosity.
  • Because love openly and privately leads to respect and reverence. Our children need to respect Allah instead of solely fearing His punishment or Hellfire. Love leads to devotion and delight in obeying Allah and avoiding sins.
  • Because Allah Almighty is the Ever-Living, the Self-Existent, the Eternal and the Ever-Lasting who never dies, sleeps, or doses off. Allah is with children (through His knowledge) everywhere we go, and He protects and takes care of them more than their parents. Thus, loving Him is essential. Children must know that Allah is their strongest supporter.
  • Because loving Allah leads to loving the Quran and prayers. Once children realize that Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty, they will do everything that is beautiful. Once they realize that Allah loves the patient, the purified, the benevolent, the generous, the confident, and the pious, they will do their best to please Him and win His support and protection. Once they realize that He does not like traitors, non-believers, offenders, arrogant, unjust and corrupt people, they will do their best to stay away from all these traits for His sake and satisfaction
  • Because loving Allah means feeling His presence which brings content, calm, and confident feelings and prevents anxiety and sadness. In addition, feeling the presence of Allah protects the soul and body from psychological and spiritual diseases, and – most of all - sins
How to Teach Our Children to Love Allah the Almighty?
  • We should encourage children to observe nature because it is the only way to ingrain faith concepts in children. We must rely on children’s senses to bring out their faith in their Creator and draw their attention to natural objects and phenomena (e.g. the sun, the rain, and the wind). Through observing nature, we should teach children that there is a Creator who controls this universe; we should urge children to ask and we should do our best in explaining belief to them by pointing out evidence of Allah’s existence through analyzing nature and science. This includes the divine guidance to human creation. Allah says: “So let man observe from what he was created.” and “And in yourselves. Then will you not see?”. Also, we should encourage children to observe how Allah made food available and how He allowed plants grow. Allah says: “Then let mankind look at his food.” In addition, we should highlight Allah’s aptitude by observing his magnificent creatures. Allah says: “Then do they not look at the camels - how they are created? ۝ And at the sky - how it is raised? ۝ And at the mountains - how they are erected? ۝ And at the earth - how it is spread out?” We can teach children these big concepts and their wonderful meanings that indicate the Creator’s greatness - in different ages - using a variety of modern demonstrative and technological tools.
  • We should teach children Allah’s beautiful names and traits that indicate His perfection and beauty. Allah Almighty is the Merciful; His mercy engulfs everything. He is the Pardoner who forgives sins. He is the Forgiver who conceals sins. He is the Generous who gives without asking. He is the Guider who guides His creatures to all that is beneficial. He is the Loving who loves and is beloved. Without doubt, knowing these traits help children love Allah.
  • We must refrain from warning children that Allah punishes children who disobey their parents. Disobeying parents is different from disobeying Allah. Linking the two prevents children from deeply thinking about Allah’s ability and greatness. We should not depend on threats in raising children. Instead, we must teach children more about loving Allah and glorifying Him.
  • When children watch their parents perform prayer and other obligations or refrain from prohibitions, they usually ask for explanations. Parents should answer by highlighting the love of Allah and by obeying Him. That is how we raise children to love Allah by example. A child follows his parents. Mentioning heaven and Allah’s reward of eternal bliss for His pious servants’ ingrain love in the hearts of children.
  • When children begin to understand the meaning of obligations, they must be taught that love is an obligation because Allah the Almighty is the One who created, sustained, and favored us over His creations. He gifted us with Islam. We must teach children that all the blessings around us are from Allah. In addition, we should teach children to thank Allah for His blessings and ask Him for more.
  • Thus, as we can see, teaching children ways that help them love Allah and His messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is inclusive of all forms of worship.
The Second Pillar

Belief in Angels

Belief in angels consists of belief in the following: their existence, their names, narrations about them, and loving them.

  • That they are created from light. Aisha says: “The messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: (The Angels were born out of light and the Jinns were born out of the spark of fire and Adam was born as he has been defined (in the Quran) for you.)” It is sufficient to generally describe angels without details.
  • They have names and duties. For example, Jibreel is the chief of angels and the one who descended with the Quran. Mikael is responsible for directing rain. Israfeel is responsible for blowing the Horn. There are also the carriers of the Throne, the writers, the protectors, etc.
  • Their population is huge and that no one knows how many they are except Allah the Almighty and that they are creatures that obey Allah’s commands.
  • They are impeccable and that they constantly worship Allah and neither get tired, bored, nor arrogant. They love the believers, support them, pray for them, and protect them. They also look for and attend gatherings that invoking Allah.
  • We should teach children to love the angels because they are noble creatures that care for the believers. Loving angels strengthens loyalty and affection towards noble creatures that glorify Allah, ask for His forgiveness, and pray for the believers. Angels also bring good news to the believers who take the path of faith and good deeds before entering Paradise. Angels pray for the believers and support them. Allah sends them to protect the believers. Allah says: “For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah.”
  • We should also teach children that faith requires respecting the angels because they are honorable creatures. They never disobey Allah and they do everything Allah asks.
  • We should also teach children about the things that bring the angels close to us (e.g. reading Quran, learning about Islam, etc.) and by refraining from things that distance them from us (e.g. lack of personal hygiene). Jaber ibn Abdillah narrates that the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “He who eats of this (offensive) plant, garlic, (and one time he said: He who eats onion and garlic and leek) should not approach our masjid for the angels are harmed by what harms humans”.
  • Teaching children to believe in the existence of angels has many benefits: it helps them realize the extent of Allah’s knowledge, greatness, capability and wisdom. It also helps them feel safe because they know that the angels protect and support them as Allah ordered them to do.
  • Teaching children that our relationship with angels (weather through our understanding of them, or their watching over us) illustrates the importance of human beings. We are not irrelevant or worthless. This means that we should be up to the ultimate task we are created for.
The Third Pillar

Belief in Scripture

What does Teaching Children about Scriptures include?
  • We should teach them that they are revealed by Allah, that they are mercy for people, and that they provide legislations and rules that suit various nations. Parents should clarify to children that the scriptures are a blessing that teach us about Allah, the Hereafter, and good and evil.
  • We should teach them to belief in their names as mentioned in the Quran such as the Scriptures of Ibrahim (peace be upon him), the Torah of Moses (peace be upon him), the Psalms of David (peace be upon him), the Gospels of Jesus (peace be upon him), and the Quran of Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).
  • We should teach them to believe that they support and not contradict one another. Allah says: “Confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture.”
  • We should tell them about stories in them and explain that the previous ones have been altered by people, that they were temporary and specifically sent for certain nations, and that Allah did not guard them like the Quran.
  • Belief that the Qur’an supersedes all previous scriptures and that people are obliged to follow its commands until Judgment Day. People must obey its clear laws and not trespass the boundaries it sets.

We encourage children to memorize the Quran because memorizing the Quran improves children brainpower and enlightens the child’s soul through its verses. The noble Quran invites us to think about the creation of the skies, Earth, humans, and our surroundings. It increases our faith and knowledge that accompany actions.

Memorizing and understanding the Quran improve intelligence. It also improves Arabic pronunciation and language skills. Furthermore, it nurtures religious emotions (e.g. fear, affection, submission) and gets children to practice its teachings on daily basis.

We encourage children to memorize the Quran because memorizing the Quran improves children brainpower and enlightens the child’s soul through its verses. The noble Quran invites us to think about the creation of the skies, Earth, humans, and our surroundings. It increases our faith and knowledge that accompany actions.

Memorizing and understanding the Quran improve intelligence. It also improves Arabic pronunciation and language skills. Furthermore, it nurtures religious emotions (e.g. fear, affection, submission) and gets children to practice its teachings on daily basis.

It teaches children the correct way of life and noble morals.

How to Encourage Children to Memorize the Quran?
  • One of the most effective methods in encouraging children to memorize the Quran, is to mention the virtues of memorizing it, reciting it, teaching it, and applying its teachings in daily life. The prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) says: “Read the Quran, as it will come as an intercessor for its companions on the Day of Resurrection.” He also says: “It shall be said - to the one who memorized the Quran - ‘Recite, and rise, recite as you would recite back in life. For indeed your rank shall be at the last verse you recite.’”, and says: “The example of a Believer who recites the Quran, is that of a citron which smells good and tastes good, and the example of a Believer who does not recite the Quran, is that of a date which has no smell but tastes sweet. The example of a hypocrite who recites the Quran, is that of an aromatic plant which smells good but tastes bitter, and the example of a hypocrite who does not recite the Quran, is that of a colocynth plant which has no smell and is bitter in taste.” In addition, he says: “The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”
  • We should also reward children for reading and memorizing Quran and attending classes that teach it .
  • We must simplify the process of memorizing the Quran and make it likable by starting off with short surahs. Children should start with the last part (Juz’ Amma). This has short and rhymed chapters, which makes it easier to memorize. These chapters also mention the pillars of faith and reinforce creed and discipline. The Quran provides health and security because the noble Quran is a reminder and a medication. In addition, it strengthens children’s language skills
  • We must briefly explain the meanings of the Surah’s children recite and memorize. These meanings open children’s minds and hearts. We should not underestimate the importance of explaining the meanings of the Quran to children; children have amazing skills in memorizing and understanding the Quran.
  • We should teach children that the Quran is an antidote, a mercy, and a blessing from Allah. Allah says: “And We send down of the Quran that which is healing and mercy for the believers.” Whoever memorizes it, or part of it, can treat himself and anyone sick.
The Fourth Pillar

Belief in the Messengers

This pillar includes that Allah has chosen them for specific nations and that they are morally and mentally fit to deliver His message. Allah says: “And We did not send any messenger except [speaking] in the language of his people to state clearly for them.” The following are some of the points concerning belief in the messengers that need to be taught to children:

  • That Allah the Almighty sent a messenger to every nation calling them to worship Allah alone and to disbelieve in anything else .

    They are all trustworthy, righteous, wise, pious, and honest.

  • The message - from the first messenger to the last one - highlights monotheism, meaning that all worships are directed to Allah Almighty alone (including creeds, words, and actions). No one is to be worshiped other than Him.
  • That there is divine wisdom in sending messengers to His creatures: to worship Allah Alone (monotheism), to guide mankind to the right path, to teach people the aspects of religion and life, to take them out of the darkness into light, to lead the nations and apply Allah’s law, and to lead by example.
  • That Allah sent the messengers to guide mankind to His path because He is merciful and He cares for us. This means we should thank Him for this great blessing and love the messengers and prophets because they delivered His message and advised us. No matter how aware and intelligent we are, we cannot successfully reform a whole nation to achieve cohesion, equality, and justice. The messengers taught people what benefits them and warned against what harms them.
  • That we must love and obey Allah’s last messenger, Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), and not love any other one more than him. We must also love those who loved and supported the messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and to distance ourselves from those who opposed him. We must also honor him and say “peace and blessings upon him” whenever mentioned and appreciate his qualities and virtues because he was very merciful and compassionate. In addition, those who have been honored by visiting his mosque and standing at his grave must respect him by lowering their voices at his grave (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and his mosque.
How to Teach Children to Love the prophets (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them). especially the last prophet:
  • We must assure children that Allah the Almighty loves His prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and has chosen him over everyone else. He Almighty ordered us to love him (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). We must teach children that loving the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is a sign of loving Allah the Almighty; whoever loves the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) truly loves Allah.

  • Remind children that the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is a mercy to the worlds. He guided us by delivering this religion. He will be a mercy to the believers and will intercede on behalf of them -with Allah’s permission on the Day of Resurrection
  • Encourage children to read chapters of the prophet’s noble biography. This biography teaches children that the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is the example and role model to everyone. We must mention his Allah-given miracles (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), his great morals, his support for the oppressed, his sympathy for the poor, his care of the orphans, and his compassion for the weak. In doing all of this, we should use a language that fit their age and suit their mental stage. We must diversify our tools to meet children’s needs and requirements for growth and to take into consideration the nature of individual differences and environmental conditions.
  • Children must observe their parents and surrounding environment honoring the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), his Sunnah, and his words by following him (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and praying for him (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) whenever mentioned. Parents behavior is one of the most effective ways of influence (i.e. a father performs certain acts of worship and informs his children that this is what the messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to d). Raising children by example has the greatest effect on positive development and faith education; the messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is the example and role model that educators must follow and apply in everyday life with their children.
  • Children should memorize some of the authentic narrations that indicate the perfection of Islam that the prophet brought, the great qualities of the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), and the virtue of his companions. The narrations (Hadith) have a great impact on faith, behavior, and self-improvement. We can arrange competitions in short narrations with clear meanings that include some of the important morals and motivate children with rewards
  • Parents should mention the narrations of the companions dealing with the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and how they used to honor him, especially the companions of young age, such as the story of Anas’ endeavor to follow him (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). When a tailor invited Allah’s messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) to a meal which he had prepared. Anas says: “I went with Allah’s messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) to that meal, and the tailor served the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) barley bread and soup of squash and meat. I saw Allah’s messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) picking the pieces of squash from around the dish, and since then I have kept on liking squash.” The parent should take care of demonstrating how his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) loved him and sacrificed for him and keep telling related stories.
  • There are fruits to loving the prophet. Anas’s narration that a man asked the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) about the Hour (the Day of Resurrection) saying: “When will the Hour be?” The prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “What have you prepared for it?”, the man said: “Nothing, except that I love Allah and His messenger.” The prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “You will be with those whom you love.” Anas says: “We had never been so glad as we were hearing that saying of the prophet (“You will be with those whom you love.”) Therefore, I love the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), Abu Bakr and `Umar, and I hope that I will be with them because of my love for them though my deeds are not like theirs».
  • We should help children love the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) through creative methods such as poetry, stories, speeches, and articles. We should encourage contests in the topic of ‘loving the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).
The Fifth Pillar

Belief in the Hereafter

Belief in the Hereafter includes belief in death, resurrection, judgment, reward and punishment, walking the straight path, weighing deeds, Paradise, and Hellfire. During Middle childhood, children begin to clearly recognize concepts about the Hereafter; prior to this, it is better to keep that talk brief and concise. We should only explain that there is another life and that Allah has created Paradise for the believers and Hellfire for disbelievers.

Children should be taught the following about the Hereafter:
  • Allah will revive everyone from death on the Day of Resurrection so that they will be judged for their actions in life. People will be either rewarded or punished for their doings.

  • Allah created Paradise (i.e. the house of blessing, happiness, and eternity) to reward his faithful believers. He also created Hellfire for non-believers. We should strive to achieve Paradise’s and what Allah prepared in it for the believers
  • We should delicately talk to children about death and the Hereafter and highlight Allah’s mercy and forgiveness so that disturbing thoughts don’t haunt them
  • Allah is not unjust to anyone. He will punish the wrong doers and will compensate the oppressed and reward the good doers. Tyrants will be held accountable for their actions in the Hereafter. Each person will get what he or she deserves
The Sixth Pillar

Belief in Destiny

Belief in destiny includes belief in Allah’s perfect knowledge, decree, capabilities, creation, and will. Prior to nine, children cannot understand destiny and discussion on it should be delayed until later stage

However, certain aspects can be taught during that time:

  • First and foremost, we should teach children to trust in Allah: This aspect is easy to grasp and the prophet has exemplified it when he gave advice to Abdullah ibn Abbas, who was a child at the time. Ibn Abbas said: “One day I was behind the prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and he said: (O young man, I shall teach you some words: Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, then ask Allah; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah. And know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already decreed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already decreed against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” In another narration: “Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. Recognize and acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity. And know that what has missed you [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to miss you. And know that victory comes with patience, relief comes with affliction, and hardship comes with ease”.
  • Parents should avoid discussing destiny with their children at this stage. However, they can explain the extent of Allah’s knowledge of pre-destiny, His capabilities, and His omnipresence that does not negate people’s freedom of choice and the consequences of that choice. Yet, if the issue of destiny preoccupies a child’s mind, the mentor should clarify it in a simple and conceivable manner.
  • Teach children to seek help only from Allah. Prayers must be directed to Allah only. We must trust and depend on Him. We must also be patient with whatever he decrees.
  • That Allah decrees whatever is good. Therefore, one must not be depressed or weak when bad things happen. Instead, one must be content with Allah’s decree, even if it is difficult. One must be sure that: “We will never be struck with calamity except by what Allah has decreed for us”.
  • That everything is in Allah’s hands; He does whatever He wants because He has absolute control over His dominion. This leads to strengthening the children’s connection to Allah and directing their prayers and hopes towards Him.
  • Belief in destiny brings stability and peace. Once a believer realizes that everything that happens to him or her - whether good or bad - is good and that absolute evil does not exist, he or she will be relieved and content. Believers in destiny face their problems, concerns, and worries with a welcoming heart and adjust accordingly. Whoever believes in destiny does not panic during calamities; Believers in destiny surrender to Allah’s Will, hoping to be rewarded by Allah; they remind themselves at the first shock of Allah’s promise of reward: “And give good tidings to the patient ۝ Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return”. ۝ Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided”.
  • We should utilize stories of people who returned to Allah when hit by distress and later realized the goodness in what Allah had decreed as their lives changed for the better.
  • That Allah has unlimited knowledge about the past, present and future: Allah is omnipresent but he does not prevent people from their freedom of choice and the consequences of that choice. Belief in destiny is summarized in believing that Allah knows everything in detail and that He has written in the Slate all that is predestined for everyone until the Day of Resurrection.