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Children of Submitters and Religious Duties

Praise be to God! There is no other god except God. As you know, we as submitters consider four religious rituals to be obligatory:

1) The Contact Prayer (which in itself includes the Shahada, of course)

2) Obligatory Charity,

3) Fasting, and

4) Hajj Pilgrimage.

Now, what about the children of submitters? What are the requirements for them? What should submitters expect from their children. What should the general reasonable expectations be for the children of submitters? And before we go further, let’s first explain what we mean by general reasonable expectations. For example, the general reasonable expectation is that you should not make a phone call during late night, because the person might be sleeping. However, this is not a Quranic rule, and there are cases where it’s ok to call someone during the night, but the general reasonable expectation is not to do it. Or if you go out at 1 am, the general reasonable expectation in most of the towns in the world is that almost all the shops will be closed. Now, there might not be even a rule which stops that, but it just happens due to other reasons that most of the shops, if not all of them, are closed during the night. So, in a similar way, when we talk about general reasonable expectations about the religious duties for children of submitters, we are not talking about direct Quranic rules, but a large combination of other Quranic rules, which generally lead to these expectations about the children of submitters. And God willing, we will go over those Quranic rules in other videos, so we can understand the root rules of these expectations, but that will take a lot of videos. So, in this video let’s sort of just give a packaged version of these general reasonable expectations, so you can use it as an approximate map. Now, here are the general reasonable expectations for children of submitters. Let’s go over the summary first, before we go into the details:

1) Until the age of 12, until the start of puberty, children are only exposed to religious duties without any requirements.

2) From the age of 12 until the age of 18, children are expected to always join you in religious duties, to keep the peace within the family, but they are not expected to do anything on their own when you are not there, and also they are not expected to engage in organized religion.

3) From the age of 18, they are expected to fulfill all their religious duties on their own, and also to become part of organized religion.

Now, let’s explain what we mean more specifically with this. So, until the age of 12 the children are exposed to the Contact Prayers, and they might initially join you as play, and then maybe they can understand it as some sort of family activity which the adults just do and during that time it is better just join them. However, ablution is not needed for them, for the children. They are not really that impure, even when they don’t have ablution. And also, if they join the contact prayer, they are not really doing the contact prayer. They are just imitating the parent. They are participating in a family ritual, not necessarily in a religious ritual. But it might make sense to encourage them to do it, for managerial reasons, so they are distracted from doing something dangerous, especially because they know that you are not watching them at that time. So, until 12, they are only exposed to religion, but no religious duties are required of them, and if they join you in the contact prayer, they can do so without ablution. But also, it is important not to stop them from religious duties, by belittling them, keeping them in their shell away from religion, by telling them, “you still don’t understand”, and things like that. There is a verse in the Bible where Jesus tells the people, “Let the little children come to me”, meaning let them hear the word of God. Don’t intentionally keep them away from the word of God. So, you just expose them to religion without expectations of what they should do, and what they should and should not understand.

Now, when they reach the age of 12, you as a parent teach them how to perform ablution. And then, you tell them that whenever they hear your call to prayer, they should get up, perform ablution, and join you in whatever movement you are doing. They don’t even need to learn the words. They just know that they should do what you do. You bow, they bow. You prostrate, they prostrate. You stand up, they stand up. But, you expect this only as a common prayer, not as an expectation of an individual prayer which they can or should do themselves. For example, let’s say you come from work, and you find your child at home, and the afternoon prayer time has already started an hour ago. You should not ask them, if they did the prayer. The Quran tells us not to spy on the people. So, you assume that since the prayer time started earlier, you must assume that they did the prayer already. You don’t ask them, if they did it. You must assume that they did. So, in this case when you start doing the afternoon prayer, you don’t make the call for prayer, and they don’t join you, because you have taught them that they should join you only when they hear the call for prayer from you. Otherwise, you don’t manage, or double check whether they are doing it alone at other times. So, now let’s say that the evening prayer starts, and they are still there, you definitely see that they did not do the evening prayer, because they were with you from the beginning of the evening time, so now you make the call for prayer, and as soon as they hear it, they should go and do ablution, and join you in prayer. So, your child who is above 12 should know that when you make the call for the prayer, he or she should definitely join you with ablution, but if you don’t make the call for the prayer, he should not join you.

You wait for them to do ablution and join you, after you make the call and before you start the prayer. If they don’t, you demand, talk, insist. Try the nice approaches without begging, and the harsh approaches without violence. If they resist, there should be non-violent repercussions, definitely. In the past, even violent repercussions were allowed, and we are not stopping them because they are wrong, but because they don’t work. See, parenting is not only an issue of issuing judgments to your child, deciding what is wrong and what is not wrong, but also it’s a management issue, deciding what works and what doesn’t work. And violent repercussions just don’t work today, because violence has been outsourced to the police. And violence really doesn’t work in the long run, anyway. Anyway, this means that you have to take more time and make more efforts to use other repercussions, if your child above 12 resists joining you in the Contact Prayer after you make the call for the Contact Prayer. Repercussions can be financial, maybe not give them the ipad, or things like that. And it’s really a management issue. And by the way, if both parents are submitters, and the child has no mental handicap, we should not accept the excuse that the child simply does not listen. If you can train a dog to catch a toy when you throw it, you can also train a child to bow down when you bow down, and prostrate when you prostrate.  If you can train a dog to respond when you call their name, you can also train a child to respond when they hear your call to prayer. Also, if you can find a way to make a child do his or her homework, they you can also find a way to make your child bow down when you bow down and prostrate when you prostrate. This doesn’t have to be a religious issue. It’s an issue of training your child. You don’t discuss what your child believes. They should just be trained what the response should be when they hear your call to prayer.

Now, what if the other parent is not submitter? Well, in this case, when you are with your child during the whole Contact Prayer time, you should try to make your child bow down when you bow down and prostrate when you prostrate, but in this case there can be cases when that might not work, depending on how much the other parent is influencing the child against it. This is a very big reason why the Quran says that marrying a submitter is much better than marrying a non-submitter even if you like the non-submitter more. So, it’s especially because it prevents any possibility of sending all your efforts with your children to waste. So, if the other parent is not a submitter, it might happen that your efforts – and you should make full efforts anyway – but it might happen that they go to waste, and they don’t work, because the other parent might have more influence. Now, in this case there is financial atonement for this, which means that you should atone for your insufficient management. You will be rewarded for your efforts in the next world, but you should pay for your insufficient management here, and that is explained elsewhere. And it’s not necessarily an issue of right and wrong, because ultimately you are only responsible for your own soul, but it’s an issue of management vs. insufficient management.

So, these should be our general reasonable expectations for our children from the age of 12 until 18, in relation to the Contact Prayers. And the same with fasting. Children should generally be expected to start fasting at the age of 12. So, when Ramadan, or the fasting time comes, and your children are 12, you just don’t cook for them during the day, even if they are not fasting, and then when the time for breaking the fast comes, you make sure that they have a nice healthy meal to eat, and they will adjust their behavior to that. You should try to use any non-violent means to make them fast when the month of fasting comes, if they are over 12. And actually, children at this age see fasting as an interesting way to challenge themselves, to see how much they have grown up.

Now, regarding Hajj: We should not expect that you take children under 12 to Hajj. It’s just an unnecessary complication, and they will not value it, and it’s not that easy to guarantee their safety, and they will not know what they are doing. If they are between 12 and 18, and you have definitely decided to go to Hajj during that time, then you may take them or you may go alone. Either way has its benefits.

Now, regarding Obligatory Charity: The laws in today’s democratic countries limit ownership of anything of value only to people who are above 18, and this means that Obligatory Charity, as a result, is limited only to people above 18, because people below 18 can not be the legal owners of anything anyway, in today’s circumstances. This is why we allow only people over 18 to join us in Organized Religious Rituals. Public Obligatory Charity is an Organized Religious Ritual.

The other Organized Religious Ritual is the Friday Prayer, and this again only becomes obligatory after the age of 18. The Quran says to leave work, and join the Friday Prayer, so the requirement for the Friday Prayer is only for people of working age, and only people over 18 are allowed to work in today’s environment. Children below 18 may listen to the sermons, but only in the presence of their parent, and if their parent wishes to expose them to it, but if they don’t, it’s fine. It’s not obligatory for children anyway. If the parent decides to just paraphrases what he or she learned, and tells it to his or her child in a shortened version, that is also fine.

So, to summarize, no religious rituals should be expected from our children before 12, but they are simply exposed to that religious environment. From 12 until 18, we should expect them to do the Contact Prayer and Fasting, but we should expect that only when they are with us. Hajj Pilgrimage is optional during that age. And Obligatory Charity and Friday Sermon (the organized part of Submission) becomes obligatory at the age of 18. And until the age of 18, you carry the responsibility for what your child does. If he does what he should do. It’s your credit. If he doesn’t do what he is supposed to do, then it’s your fault. God will count it as a good deed or a bad deed for you, not for your child until he or she reaches the age of 18. And in case the other parent of the child is not a submitter, and their bigger influence makes it impossible for you to realize your expectations about your child, then you should atone for your life mismanagement, which is explained elsewhere.

And finally, here is something even more important. Never let your child bully or pressure you into changing your religion. Verse 30:28 says “God cites for you herein an example from among yourselves: Do you ever elevate your servants (your dependent children in this case) or subordinates to the level where they rival you, and to the point that you pay them as much allegiance as is being paid to you? We thus explain the revelations for people who understand.”