When my daughter was born, I did what every mom would do. I made sure she got the best start. I got rid of all dangerous chemicals from the house including cleaning supplies. When she started solids, I only fed her organic wholesome foods. I wanted to build her personality and manners on a good solid Islamic cornerstone, so I took her to Ishaa‘ prayer every night so she could hear the Quran being read. I also made sure to say all my duaa’s out loud, in hopes that she would start repeating something one day.
Lo and behold, the cleaning supplies started creeping back in, because seriously that almond oil cleaner doesn’t clean half as well as Didecyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride. And organic, yeah that wasn’t good for my pocketbook, especially when she started eating from the family meals. Anyone want to help subsidize 5 pounds worth of organic tomatoes? The nightly Ishaa prayer and duaa’s read aloud continued only because I had to do them anyway. But after repeating ‘baba’ over 250 times so she would finally pronounce it once, there was no way she was going to surprise me with a whole full-fledged duaa at 18 months.
On a recent family vacation I decided I would take her to Sea World. After all, I wanted to introduce her to all the animals so that she could say ‘dolphin’, maybe surprise me with ‘Shamu’, and most of all so she could remember this trip for years to come. Then, as I waited on the hotel room floor for my husband to finish his wudu, it hit me, she was only 12 months old. Kids really have no recollection of anything before 4 years of age. So my gears started turning, do I go with my gut instinct and surround her with as much enriching stimuli as I could get my hands on? Or do I just make sure she’s fed and alive, and start the fun stuff at age 5? Besides, wouldn’t eating at that waterfront restaurant be more relaxing than going home soaking wet after a long day at the park?
My train of thought came to halt as my husband exited the bathroom and stood for salat. I got up and stood beside him to pray, like we always do. She always liked to play nearby as we prayed. As soon as my husband said “Allahu Akbar” to signal sujood, my daughter got down to a crawling position and then put her head on the floor. Her passive observation of us as we prayed finally amounted to something and she had just performed her first sujood. As he said “Allahu Akbar”, she prostrated once again. I was elated. Sure, she was never going to remember that at 2 months of age I would put her on the prayer rug while I prayed every salat. She was never going to remember that I took her to the masjid nightly, she was never going to remember the duaas read aloud. But somehow, inshallah, like instinct, she will know how to pray, how to make duaa, how to be a kind person — how to be the person that I raise her up to be. I get up with renewed strength, because I have hope that not all is wasted. I now see that I will one day reap the seeds I sow, with Allah’s will. So I go on. I take her to see Shamu. I put her in my lap and cup her hands in mine as I say “Ameen” during prayer. She squirms and wants to play with the stuffed toy instead. I smile.
Rahaf recently finished her B.A. in Mathematics and is currently teaching part-time at the local Islamic school. She loves reading, writing, cooking, and exploring the world with her little 1 year old.