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    Mothers- Please Read!

    How important is it to read? The answer immediately brings to mind the first divine order - Iqra! (Read!) Not only was it ordered once, but three times to the Prophet (s). Such an event signifies the importance of reading.

    Reading entails other functions of the mind not merely recitation. It requires interpreting, reflecting and understanding of what one reads. In other words, reading demands thinking and, consequently, reading means acquiring knowledge that will bring us closer to Allah (swt). Through the knowledge of Islam, we come to know the boundaries marked by Allah and therefore not to transgress it. And through the knowledge of Islam we are prevented from deviant thoughts or ideologies, and can also strengthen our iman.

    Furthermore, Allah says in the Qur'an, "Allah will exalt those who believe among you and those who have knowledge, to high ranks." (58:11). Also the Prophet (s) said, "A learned person or theologian is as much superior to a worshipper as I am superior to an ordinary Muslim among you."

    We all know the famous saying of the Prophet (s) that seeking Islamic knowledge is compulsory on every Muslim male and female. The best form of acquiring this knowledge is to study under a qualified teacher, but this is not always possible. Therefore, another form of acquiring Islamic knowledge is to select books and read them. However, the reality is that most Muslim women do not have access to teachers nor do they read. The excuse for not reading is that they do not have the time. Ironically, most have the time to read lifestyle, fashion and tabloid magazines such as House and Garden, Vogue or Australian Women's Weekly. Even when they do have some time they prefer a novel.

    For a mother who follows this practice, she needs to realise that this attitude of not giving importance to reading Islamic material will be imparted to her children. When children do not develop the love of reading constructively, they will not read further as they grow older. As a result, they may not perform well in schools because school builds up on the concept of understanding through reading. Research shows that brilliant children are the ones who read frequently. Reading is a part of language. It teaches them how to use words, to learn new words and to communicate. It also enriches their minds to view things from different perspectives; it teaches them new ideas and concepts. Furthermore, reading is a powerful tool in influencing and shaping attitudes. Muslim children who are encouraged to read stories of the Prophet (s), his Companions (r ), and other Islamic personalities, will have role models to imitate and to be proud of their Islamic heritage.

    If a mother is not inclined to read but encourages her children to read, she needs to be aware that there is danger in this situation. Namely in this secular society, the educational system is based on the propagation of secular and anti-religious knowledge to the young and impressionable mind. Hence, a mother who is not inclined to read much will not be able to monitor what her children are reading. That is, whether those books that they read are teaching non-Islamic ideas or not, the mother would not realise it and would not comprehend as to what is influencing her children.

    The importance of reading can never be undermined. We should try to do some Islamic readings to know more about our religion and to encourage our children to do the same. There is nothing worse than a mother who preaches to her children the virtues of reading but she herself fails to practice it.

    Below are some tips on how to motivate yourself and your children to read Islamic books:

    *Share books with your children, by reading to them whenever you have a spare moment. Even 5 minutes a day can make a difference.
    *Listen and read a book together. There are Islamic children's books available on tape as well. If you do not feel like reading, sit together with your child and listen to the tape while looking at the writings and pictures in the book.
    *Help your child to prepare his/her own book. Staple some blank papers together. If he can write let him write a story. If he cannot, let him tell the story and you write for him. Needless to say, let him illustrate the story.
    *Build a home library of children's Islamic stories. For those mothers who avoid reading thick Islamic adult books, they should choose children's books. These are short and sweet and give you the basics when you are pressed for time. Once you have your own children's library set up. Both you and your child can access it anytime. Be sure to keep them within the child's reach and display them attractively.
    *Compare the book and film/cartoon. There are several Islamic stories that are made into movies or cartoons. For example, the story of the elephant (in Surah al-Fil) and the cartoon "Salam's Journey", the story of Prophet Muhammad (s) and the movie "The Messenger" (for older kids only). Read with your child the books or stories first then watch the cartoon/movie together and then discuss.

    http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~umm_pub/
    You are not aware of the consequences that would result (if you were granted what you desire) because what you seek might be to your detriment. (O soul) be conscious that your Master is more aware about your well-being than you are.

    ~Ibn Al-Jawzee
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