Question # 488: Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to commend you for the work that you are doing in providing insight into the doctrine of Islam. I grew up reading a book called “our dialogue” which proved to be very insightful and very similar to this forum.  I feel people simply follow the practices of their forefathers without understanding them or worse follow the incorrect principles they believe to be Islamic in virtue.

Here is my question for you. I live in Canada, similar to the USA, many non-Muslim festivals are common place. Christmas, Halloween etc. Due to commercialization of these festivals, there is a great deal of awareness for children. Now you have expressed in previous posts that one should avoid and educate our young on the Islamic principles.  This is my dilemma, my son who is almost 13 in age has severe intellectual delays ( mentally he is just 4-5) in age. He obviously sees around him non-Muslim festivities and wants to take part and we are unable to explain to him what it means to be a Muslim. Our intent is not to participate in the non-Muslim belief system but rather to keep our child happy. Moreover, his peers in school have well surpassed him in their development, and he doesn’t have many friends or companions. There are limited things he is able to enjoy and participate in, so is it wrong of us to let him enjoy non-Muslim festivities?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: First of all, we pray to Allah (swt) to cure your son and grant him the best in this world and the Hereafter.

Children are not accountable for their actions as Prophet (saws) said: “There are three (persons) whose deeds are not recorded: a sleeping person till he wakes, a child till he reaches puberty, and an insane person till he regains consciousness.” However, Muslim parents are obliged to guard their children against evil, immorality, and misguidance and try their very best to bring them up in the love of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saws) and the teachings of Islam. The parents share the rewards of the child’s righteousness and bear the sin of his/her being misguided when neglected at a young age as Prophet (saws) said “…A man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock…”

We comprehend your situation and dilemma, but we recommend that since you understand his perception of enjoyment, you should create a similar ambiance at your home along with family members and/or his Muslim friends during Eid celebrations and Ramadan iftars. Alternatively, organize some parties at home to recognize his smallest achievement in school or otherwise. Nowadays, many mosques and Islamic organizations across North America organize events for young kids; you should try getting him involved to the extent possible under proper supervision. You should also try taking him to the masjid as often as possible. And gradually disconnect him from the non-Muslim activities which he is being exposed to as of now.

Long Answer: First of all, we pray to Allah (swt) to cure your son and grant him the best in this world and the Hereafter.

[Before you proceed to answer your question, let’s agree upon that] raising and educating children is one of the duties required of parents. Allah (swt) has enjoined that in the Qur’an, and the Messenger (saws) also enjoined that. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels, stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded” (Soorah al-Tahreem 66:6)

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar (ra) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saws) say: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The ruler is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s household and is responsible for her flock. A servant is the shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for his flock.” He said: and I think he said, “A man is the shepherd of his father’s wealth and is responsible for his flock. Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Part of [the duty of parents] is to bring them up from a young age to love Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saws) and to love the teachings of Islam. [The parents have] to keep them away from the places of immorality and misguidance [and should] not leave them to grow up with evil things from the television etc., then after that expect them to be righteous, for whoever sows thorns cannot harvest grapes.  That should be done when they are young, so that it will be easy for them when they grow up, and they will get used to it, and it will be easy for you to tell them what to do and what not to do, and it will be easy for them to obey you.

Al-Minaawi said: “For a father to discipline his child when he reaches the age of discernment means that he should raise him with the characteristics of the righteous believers and protect him from mixing with evildoers; he should teach him the Qur’an and good manners…” (Fayd al-Qadeer)

Al-Qaadhi Abu Bakr ibn Al-‘Arabi wrote, “A child is trust in his parents’ hands and his pure heart is a priceless, raw, unpolished gem ready to be shaped and formed. Children are born as blank slates, ready to absorb whatever is given to them. If good is instilled in the child’s heart (and mind) and he is accustomed to doing good things during his upbringing, he will attain happiness in this worldly life and the Hereafter. In fact, his parents, teachers, and mentors share the rewards of the child’s righteousness. On the contrary, when the child is imbued with evil and becomes accustomed to it and is neglected, he will be one of the wretched and will be ruined. In this case, the parents and those responsible for him bear the sin for that. As the parents guard their child against the worldly fire, they should guard him against the Hellfire in the Hereafter for a greater reason. This can be achieved through giving children a good education, disciplining them, and teaching them good manners as well as protecting them from the evil of bad friends…”

[As for the accountability to Allah (swt),] Abu Dawood and at-Tirmidhi narrated from ‘Ali (ra) that the Prophet (saws) said: “The Pen has been lifted from three: from the sleeper until he awakens, from the child until he reaches puberty and from the insane person until he comes to his senses.”

It says in al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah: “The majority of fuqaha’ are of the view that the criterion of accountability is reaching puberty, not reaching the age of discernment, and that the child who has reached the age of discernment is not obliged to do any religious duties, and will not be punished in the hereafter for failing to do any duty or for doing any prohibited action…”

We comprehend your situation and dilemma, but we recommend that since you understand his perception of enjoyment, you should create a similar ambiance at your home along with family members and/or his Muslim friends during Eid celebrations and Ramadan iftars. Alternatively, organize some parties at home to recognize his smallest achievement in school or otherwise. Nowadays, many mosques and Islamic organizations across North America organize events for young kids; you should try getting him involved to the extent possible under proper supervision. You should also try taking him to the masjid as often as possible. And gradually disconnect him from the non-Muslim activities which he is being exposed to as of now.

(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:

  • Islamqa.info; and
  • Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam