Everyone likes to feel like they belong to something special. I noticed the children at Sunday school responded positively to our new pilot project “Salah Club.” Like many schools, we have a hard time settling the younger ones down for Zhur salah. One day I said, “All those in Salah Club, come join the line.” They proudly marched to their spots and stood attentively. I paused and thought to myself, “Wow. I think we’re on to something worth sharing.”
For six weeks we piloted a 30-minute session called Salah Club. It entailed:
- Marching to the secret destination
- Five minutes of poster board learning
- Field Work: A Learn and Share experiment
- “Zoom Time” A game or song to reinforce the concepts
- The Salah Cheer and final march back to class
Initially, the principal of the school approached with coloring books, websites and reading materials. We smiled and politely said, “The kids will not be working at a desk for salah club. We will try active learning with field experiments and activity balls.” He gave us a nervous smile.
The children are organized in a straight line with a selected student leader and caboose. They are asked to maintain a straight line as they march to our “secret” destination for the week. Sometimes, we go out to the backfield, maybe under a tree, or on the staircase, or the front balcony or on the floor nestled in a remote hallway. During our march we recite/chant the Arabic and English meaning for different parts of salah. It is so beautiful to see 5 to 7 year old children marching in a line, softly whispering Subhana Rabi al Ala, Glory be to Allah the Most High, Subhana Rabi Al Atheem, Glory be to the Almighty. It brought tears to our school principle.
No more than a 5 min circle session. We post colorful short, catchy phrases: Salah is a special conversation with Allah. Wudu makes your body glow (on youmul qiyama). Wudu washes away sins. A good salah makes sins fall like dry leaves from a tree.
In later weeks, we add more content to the poster boards. i.e.) the benefits of salah, what breaks wudu/salah, special dua, 7 points of prostration etc.
We like to call it the “learn and share time.” The children are divided into small groups and given a task. For example: Find 3 Muslim individuals here at Sunday school (likely a parent, older youth or teacher in the halls) and ask them “What is salah?” Listen to their answer and share what you learned today.
Other types of fieldwork included:
Ask the child to look inside their shirt. How does it look? “Dark.” Now, turn a flash light on and place the light up their shirt. Ask them to look again. “ Hey it glows.” Now ask, Do you want your body to glow with light on Youmul Qiyama? Do want to return to Allah SWT with beautiful Noor? If so, then lets learn how to make wudu properly. Because those with good wudu will inshaAllah return to Allah glowing. The kids were permitted to do this experiment on a few teachers and adults in the hallway. They were so happy to share their new learning.
We held another experiment in the grass field. We asked children to find a tree branch with dry leaves. The children were instructed to shake the branch and watch how the dry leaves fall. We ask them,” Do you want your sins to fall away? Surely when a believer offers his salah to please Allah, his sins fall from him just as these leaves have fallen from the tree.
Let’s re-emphasize the learning in a fun game/song. We play bounce ball standing in a circle. If the ball lands in your hands, you answer the question. Or pass the ball over and under to a chant. Or sing the wudu song with actions. The kids especially like when we say a phrase from Salah and they have to assume that position.
Final March and Cheer
We end by marching in a straight line back to Arabic class. The children softly chant a Quranic surah. Occupying the kids during travel time helped keep them from wandering off. Just outside of class, the kids huddle and softly cheer “Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray your Very Best. Allahu Akbar.” I know, the cheer could use some work. Any suggestions?
The children are very excited to attend Salah Club and have begun to identify themselves as a member. What touches me the most, is the children’s pride for their club. Mid way through the pilot study, I called to the young ones, “ Who wants to hold up the Salah Club posters before Salatul Zuhur?” Many children ran to me. They stood tall, along the wall of the Musalah holding Salah club poster boards with valuable lifetime information. The older youth and adults read the information. They smiled or gave a “that’s kinda cool nod.” I think, their appreciation meant a lot to the children.
InshaAllah, this is a start to a good program. If you choose to try something like Salah Club in your community, please share with us.
Sharda Mohammed is a Canadian born mother of two young children. She has a keen interest in learnig to foster leadership, self esteem and empathy in young children. She works part time as a Physical Therapist..
Editor’s note: Originally published Dec. 4, 2010.