Today when I performed Friday prayer at the local mosque (read: in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia), I saw something that was very appealing and worth sharing.
I sat beside a man, 30-something I guess and he brought his son, around 7 years old. His son sat at one row in front of us, looking right and left, up and down in his childish manner. After Zohor adzan, as usual we would perform 2 rakaat of sunnah prayer before the sermon (Russians usually would perform 4 rakaat). As i finished praying, i saw the son stood up and prayed in the way he was taught on his own, without being forced by his father, without imitating the man beside him.
His prayer is no way to be at least near perfect of course, but, judging from his young age i can say he did it excellently.After he finished he looked at his father and smiled. To my amazement, the father asked him why he did not recite the tasyahud akhir but give the salam straight away.
A total silence.
Nothing was heard from his adorable son, and he just replied his father with a sweet smile.
Then the father asked him to perform the solat again, and i was dumbfounded even more. He just obeyed his father and this time, he recited the tasyahud akhir. Perfect! What a success! Then the boy looked at his father again, waited for the father’s comment. The father, seemed quite satisfied with him, just made gestures to him which I interpreted as ‘not bad’.
And this incident that i encountered today has triggered me, somehow, to think about the same situation in Malaysia.
Last year when I watched ‘Imam Muda’ through Astro during my summer holiday in Malaysia, one of the finalists was asked how to encourage youngsters nowadays to go to the mosque. For those who are clueless about the program, Imam Muda is a religious reality show to seek a male Muslim leader, who is not only become an Imam at the mosque but also able to solve various religious problems and interact well with the society. They are judged based on several tasks and questions, including the one that I wrote earlier.
What intrigued me was the finalist, who needed to answer the question on the spot was able to give his answer based on real situation that we are facing now, which is no much encouragement from adults. I could not agree more with that.
It is quite a norm in Malaysia, where you see adults scolding the children who attend the prayer, with the bad mindset that these children will just play instead of praying, thus disturbing the rest. Of course some children are really mischievous and meet the criteria of that assumption, I mean they will play around, chat loudly and run at the corridor but not all children behave that way.
Nonetheless, this has come to mere generalization, where those good children are also affected and eventually, less and less children will be interested to go to the mosque with the excuse that they’ll just get a bombardment from adults who give such generalization.
This typical scenario if not changed early, will become a great problem later on. Those children who never go to the mosque (after being warned or threatened), will become teenagers who will avoid the mosque as well, and they might continue not knowing how to love the mosque. This is just a simple chronological event, and I will not deny if it might be different. Well, a person can change after all, via the stimulus from good friends, self-consciousness, supportive environment, etc. But I just point out the most logical variant, where a bad beginning will lead to a bad ending.
Based on my observation in Malaysia, I wonder why some parents always leave their children in the mosque with their friends, instead of asking them to pray together. The parents would rather say, “Sit quietly at the back, don’t disturb others” while they move to the front row, leaving their children at the back.
Why do some parents mind dragging their children in the first place, if at last they just let them sit together with their friends, far from their parents’ observation? Is not it just contributes to the aforesaid annoying, disturbing children problem? They might want to avoid the children from making noise, yes, it’s fathomable, but on the other hand, the children will learn nothing.
Perhaps it is the time to change our perception and attitude regarding this issue. My today’s isolated experience has proved that adults could give good examples to their children. If the Muslims in Russia can do it, so do the Muslims in Malaysia.
Hopefully, our future generations will have more affection towards the mosque greater than us, with hard effort starting from now. =]