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Teach your children manners first | Islamic Parenting

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Someone left a comment on one of my posts and asked a question:
How do we teach our children Islam since young? Do we start with Islamic knowledge and then academics? Or both at the same time?

I will be completely honest. I am not the person anyone should be asking. Although I write quite a lot about Islamic Parenting, most of the stuff I share are things that I happen to come across from lectures or books. I am not at all an expert. So I left the comment there.

However, I recently heard a very beneficial lecture that has the answers to the question above. Unfortunately, it is not in English. So I will share some of the benefits here insya’Allah.

Teach your children manners before knowledge

One of the main content of the lecture was exactly this; teach your children manners first. This was the way of the pious predecessors (which includes the prophet salallahu alaihi wasalam and his companions) and also our scholars of the past.

This was how they taught themselves, their students and their children. They started with manners before delving into other sciences of knowledge.

The sayings of the scholars about teaching manners first

Imam Malik told one of the youths of Quraysh

تعلم الأدب قبل أن تتعلم العلم

“Learn adab before learning knowledge.”

Ibnul Mubarok said,

تعلمنا الأدب ثلاثين عاماً، وتعلمنا العلم عشرين

“We learned adab for 30 years, and we learned (the sciences of) knowledge for 20 years.”

Ibnu Sirin said,

كانوا يتعلمون الهديَ كما يتعلمون العلم

“They (the scholars) used to learn guidance (adab) like how they learned a particular (science of) knowledge.”

Imam Malik also narrated that when he was really young his mother used to ask him to sit in the gatherings of Robi’ah Ibnu Abi ‘Abdirrahman (a scholar, and a faqeh in Madinah during his time). She would tell him,

تعلم من أدبه قبل علمه

“Learn adab from him before you take his knowledge.”


An education system envied by the world

Of course, the sayings of the scholars are sufficient to convince us that this is how we should teach our children. However, insya’Allah this will help us understand more about the deep wisdom behind this methodology.

I have recently read an article about how the Japanese education system is “the envy of the world”. If you are wondering why. Well, the first reason mentioned from the list was how their system is based on “Manners before knowledge.”

They do not take exams until the age of 10. The first 3 years of their school are focused on developing good character and learning manners.

MashaAllah, this was actually the way of the salaf and the great Islamic scholars from before.

Do’a for good manners

SubhanAllah, I hope this has motivated you too, on focusing to raise your children with the right Islamic etiquette. Because seeing the world today, the focus on learning adab (manners) is applicable more than ever.

With that, I end off with a do’a from the prophet (salallahu alaihi wasalam),

اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِنِى لأَحْسَنِ الأَخْلاَقِ لاَ يَهْدِى لأَحْسَنِهَا إِلاَّ أَنْتَ وَاصْرِفْ عَنِّى سَيِّئَهَا لاَ يَصْرِفُ عَنِّى سَيِّئَهَا إِلاَّ أَنْتَ

Allahummahdinii li ahsanil akhlaaqi laa yahdi li-ahsanihaa illa anta, washrif ‘anni sayyi-ahaa, laa yashrif ‘anni sayyi-ahaa illa anta

Oh Allah, guide me in the best of conduct for none but You can guide me to it. Remove sins from me, for none else but You can remove it from me.

(HR. Muslim no. 771, from ‘Ali bin Abi Tholib)


Help your kids memorize these ahadith to build on their good character


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