We all understand the importance of charity and helping those in need. However, teaching this to children can be easier said than done. It’s fundamental to the characteristic of a good Muslim to understand and appreciate the importance of helping others. Being charitable not only helps others but also ourselves. We learn empathy, kindness and generosity. So how do we teach these important things to our kids?
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) says:“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world.”
In my opinion it must start when kids are young. This is because it then stays with them and becomes a habit they have when they are adults. But how do you start with a young child? Well, it’s not as hard as you may think. One of the most important things is, you must be a role model for your child. Always tell your children about your charity work or any donations that you do.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) says: “Attract sustenance by giving charity”.
In addition to that, encourage kindness as soon as they are old enough to understand. This can be with simple things like packing up toys, passing you something or being kind to their siblings. Also sharing toys can help a child to learn to see someone else being happy with that toy. For me and my children, kindness was the first thing to build on. Kindness and charity go hand in hand and the latter is easier to teach when your child understands kindness.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said:“Every act of kindness is charity.”
Now the more common ways that we can teach our kids about being charitable include donating clothes, toys and money. But there are also other ways that also have a big impact on them.
Firstly, teach them that time can be a valuable thing to donate. So how about getting your child to help a neighbour out. It can be helping to bring shopping in or cutting the grass. Also, you could visit an ill friend or take them some food. Another opportunity to help can be at the local mosque or even school fair. Children will learn about giving up their time to help others and it will help them to see that acts of charity do not need to be materialistic.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said:“Smiling in your brother’s face is an act of charity.”
Secondly, you could sponsor an orphan with your child. Be sure to talk about it, to help your child understand. You could do a small fact file project about where your sponsored child lives and their circumstances. Arranging for your child to have an email pen pal in a less fortunate country (be sure to confirm who they are writing to first) or saving part of their pocket money to buy a gift for someone else are all small ways to get your child thinking of others.
Our Holy Prophet (S) says that: “We should give charity as it increases our property, and it makes the mercy of Allah befall on us”.
Something that you can easily do with your children is going to the supermarket and buying food for the local food bank. It really made my children think about what someone else may need and they really enjoyed choosing. Even if you don’t buy food, take any spare cans or long-life food with you to the supermarket as mostly all of them have a charity box at the front of the store.
Ali Ibn Abi Talib said “Don’t feel ashamed when giving little for charity; that is because there is always goodness in giving no matter how little.”
There are also things that are a constant reminder about charity that you can buy and put around your home. I recently found an online business that sells beautiful book marks that we keep in our Qurans. You could keep a calendar to record acts of charity or check online for other fun ideas. There are millions!
So fear Allah as much as you can, listen and obey, and spend in charity; that is better for your souls. Whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul, it is they who are successful. Quran 64:16
Try to do as many of these things as you can for maximum benefit. On a final note, encourage and remind your children to be grateful for what they have. That includes food, a warm home and a safe place to live. Teaching children about charity and gratitude when they are young, will make it part of their everyday life for years to come inshaAllah. It is after all your children that will change the world as adults and receive blessings from Allah in this dunya and the hereafter.
A mother of five amazing children and my proudest achievement. I live in London and love being part of a big extended family. My parents and siblings all live near to me and we are a very close family. Birthdays and celebrations are always fun but very hectic with so many of us mashallah. My family and my Deen are the centre of my life.