Children’s participation in the annual iʿtikaf held by Minhaj-ul-Quran International
One of the salient features of the ‘Minhaj Itikaf City’ is that children are also encouraged to sit and enjoy the benefits during these blessed ten days. An integral objective of the Minhaj Women’s League is to ensure that the younger children receive the ethical and moral teachings of Islam so that they grow up to become peace loving and caring individuals who can provide a positive impact on society. With this in mind the Eagers forum was created in May 2016 to solely concentrate on young children and provide them with an Islamic education and atmosphere that is relevant to their contemporary lives. It is of course every parent’s duty to ensure that they raise their children within the tenets of Islam and provide them with a solid foundation of good morals and ethical behaviour, whilst imbuing the love of Allah Almighty and His Blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) within their hearts. Allah Almighty states in the Qur’an: “O believers! Safeguard yourselves and your families against a Fire whose fuel is men and stones.” (66:6).
It is therefore vitally important that parents take their roles as parents extremely seriously and make conscious efforts to provide their children the pathways to the truth. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that each one of us are like shepherds and responsible for all those that are under our responsibility (Bukhari and Muslim). Indeed, the younger a child is the easier it is to mould their personality and inculcate within them excellent habits, morals, manners and good traits. With this in mind the Eagers forum has been working extremely hard to provide beautiful and exciting educational programs for young children to assist parents in this extremely important task. Eagers has begun to develop its own nationwide network in Pakistan with the help of the Minhaj Women League, and hold regular seminars, workshops, play days, mehfils and camps specifically tailored to the requirements of young children. They have created activity and work books to teach the basics of Islam in interesting and creative ways. For Ramadan this year, the Eagers team has created a special thirty-day Ramadan Syllabi outlining different daily spiritual activities to engage the children. These include reciting daily duʿāsʾ and ensure they read their obligatory prayers. The syllabi also encourage the children to perform acts of kindness every day as well as practice different good moral behaviour. In the last few years this work has extended to encourage young children to also benefit from the last ten days of Ramadan.
This year, by the Grace of Allah Almighty, the Eagers forum is again arranging itikaf for young children at the ‘Minhaj Itikaf City’. Hundreds of children have registered this year and due to the large numbers of children registered, they are provided a separate complex within the Minhaj College for Women for their residence and training. The children range from 6 to 8 for boys, and 6 to 11 for girls, and are separated into different classrooms during the day according to their age and ability. There are many children that are able to fast all day, and those that are too young are encouraged to fast shorter hours for them to also experience this blessed worship. In order to make this an enjoyable and fun experience for the children, they are provided with a separate menu for suhur and iftar.
The Eagers forum has a team of nearly 40 young and committed sisters who not only take care of the children during the day but also teach them different subjects on morals and manners as well as the basic tenets of Islam. These subjects include basic aqaid and fiqh, Islamic art classes, Islam and science and learning and reciting nasheeds. The children also have a specified time dedicated to assisting one another in order to learn the importance of helping and cooperating with each other. This year the Eagers team are also dedicating each of the ten days to famous personalities of Islam so that the children can also appreciate their glorious Islamic past. Since Shaykh-ul-Islam’s lectures are aimed at an older audience, in order that the children are able to benefit from these beautiful talks the Eagers team have prepared a much more simplified version of the talks for the young children to enjoy and learn from. This year the Shaykh-ul-Islam is basing his talks on the books of Sayyidina ʿAbd al-Qādir Gīlānī and Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī. Therefore, the Eagers team are taking the children on a spiritual journey with these great saints during their days in itikaf.
Arranging itikaf for young children at such a large scale is indeed a unique achievement of Minhaj-ul-Qur’an International and the Eagers team in particular. Providing this kind of spiritual training at such a young age is something that all parents and family members should learn from and encourage within their own children wherever they may reside. With the Grace and Blessings of Almighty Allah Minhaj-ul-Qur’an International has very similar programs for children and youngsters all over the world, and it is up to us as parents and family members to ensure that we fully utilize these wonderful resources available to us for our future generation. May Allah Almighty accept the hard endeavours of all the brothers and sisters involved in making all these programs so successful.
Dr Ghazala Hassan Qadri
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