Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Educators are asking: Should we encourage students in middle school to offer regular Sunnah prayers and Witr?


We are a committee working out educational goals for study circles at the intermediate (middle school) level. We have set the following goal: The student should regularly offer regular Sunnah prayers and Witr prayer, or the student should be encouraged to offer the regular Sunnah prayers and Witr prayer. We hope that you can give us your opinion on this goal from a shar‘i point of view, and also from an educational point of view, and whether it is appropriate for this stage.

Praise be to Allaah.

It is not possible to object to such sublime goals.
Encouraging people to do acts of obedience and worship is something that
parents and educators should pay the greatest attention to, for their
children and students. If there are any shortcomings on the family’s part
in this regard, then educators should encourage their students with regard
to that in which the families have fallen short. We do not only approve of
encouraging these students to offer regular Sunnah prayers and Witr;
rather we also approve of encouraging them to observe naafil fasts, honour
their parents, help the needy, and remove harmful things from the road. We
agree with encouraging all that is good and warning against all that is
evil and bad. 

It was narrated from al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh ibn ‘Afra’
said: On the morning of ‘Ashoora’, the Messenger of Allaah (blessings and
peace of Allah be upon him) sent word to the villages of the Ansaar around
Madeenah, saying: “Whoever started the day fasting, let him complete his
fast, and whoever started the day not fasting, let him complete the rest of
the day (without food).” 

After that, we used to fast on this day, and we would make
our children fast too, even the little ones in sha Allaah. We would make
them toys out of wool, and if one of them cried for food, we would give
(that toy) to him until it was time to break the fast. 

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1960) and Muslim (1136) 

The fast mentioned in this hadeeth is one of the naafil

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: 

Whoever neglects to teach his child what will benefit him,
and pays no attention to him, has mistreated him in the worst way. In most
cases, the corruption of children results from their parents and parental
neglect of them, and their failing to teach them the obligatory duties of
Islam and the Sunnahs. So they neglected them when they were young, so they
grow up unable to benefit themselves or their parents. End quote. 

Tuhfat al-Mawdood bi Ahkaam al-Mawlood,
p. 229 

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have
mercy on him) said: 

Allah has enjoined fasting on every Muslim who is
accountable, is able to do it, and is not travelling. With regard to the
small child who has not yet reached puberty, fasting is not obligatory for
him, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:
“The Pen has been lifted from three,” and he mentioned, “the child until he
reaches puberty.” But his guardian should tell him to fast when he reaches
an age at which he is able to do so, because this is part of disciplining
him and training him to observe the pillars of Islam. We see some people who
leave their children and do not instruct them to pray or fast. This is
wrong, because he will be accountable for that before Allah, may He be
blessed and exalted. They claim that they do not make their children fast
because they feel sorry for them and out of compassion towards them. But the
one who truly feel sorry for his child and feels compassion towards him is
the one who trains him to develop good characteristics and do righteous
deeds, not the one who fails to discipline them and give them a beneficial
upbringing. End quote. 

Majmoo‘ Fataawa al-Shaykh al-‘Uthaymeen

We encourage you to encourage the youth in the intermediate
level to offer the regular Sunnah prayers. Indeed we would ask you to do
more, namely encouraging them to do good in general, to beware of sins and
evil, and to give them an upbringing from an early age that will be most
beneficial for them by Allah’s leave; falling short in that or neglecting it
will lead to a great deal of corruption. 

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: 

One of the things of which the child is in the greatest need
is paying attention to his attitude, for he will grow up in the way that the
educator accustomed him to from an early age, be it stubbornness, anger,
argumentativeness, being hasty, being influenced by whims and desires,
foolishness, being temperamental and greed. Then when he grows up it will be
difficult for him to deal with these characteristics, and these attitudes
will become deeply rooted in his character. Hence you find that most people
have bad attitudes and behaviour; this is because of bad upbringing. End

Tuhfat al-Mawdood, p. 240 

We ask Allah to guide and help you. 

For more information, please see the answer to question no.

And Allah knows best.

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