BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.
Allah keeps sending me messages, keeps putting information in my path and I cannot ignore it. A couple of years ago, I read that fantasy books are not beneficial to read. They are not only lies, but impossible scenarios that have no basis in reality. At the same time, such things as fairy tales often promote immorality, an unrealistic concept of life and love, and a consistent boy meets girl, fall in love, maybe get married, and live happily after theme. Totally NOT what I want my children to grow up thinking or believing to be true.
Well, it's not exactly news that I hate the whole focus on entertainment and totally agree with the schools of thought that say that Islam should be taught seriously, not with cutesy videos, a bunch of songs, and cartoon characters to imitate Walt Disney. I do not want my children to be addicted to entertainment. So, when I was reading "You Can Be the Happiest Woman in the World" to prepare for a workshop I'll be doing this Saturday, I came across a directive which tied it all together. The author stated that romance books are promoting haram and are a waste of time. He further said that mystery novels teach us crime, deception, and are not Islamically beneficial. He said that if we are to read, we should read things that draw us closer to Allah, whether it be actual religious books, or books that further our knowledge of His vast universe, or books that teach us about the healing properties of every plant He has placed on this earth. This finally focused me. I took my questions to our Imam during the children's Quran class. He confirmed that to leave our children to read such fiction is to allow them to read lies and that the culture promoted in those books will have an effect on them. Reading about magic, fairies, vampires, etc. is not all...any of the story books that are about people's lives outside of Islam are harmful to our children. We end up glamorizing Western society and norms by giving them these books to read.
Now my mind is clear regarding Allah's message for me. We are preparing to go the Madinah Al Munawarrah in early September, insha'Allah. Our children will attend Private Saudi Quran-based schools insha'Allah. My sole focus is for them to all learn Arabic to fluency and know exactly what they are reading when they recite Quran. By the end of elementary school they should know about half the Quran, bi ithn Allah. Allah is guiding me to prepare properly. My children are no longer going to read books that are lies. They are no longer going to read fiction, particularly fiction that is not based on an Islamic lifestyle.
So, for my avid little 6 year old reader I must make some serious replacements. I have set her on the life of the Prophet Muhammad - a children's version. She read the stories from the Quran, so I will start finding readable books on the life of different prophets, sahaba, etc. The wives of the prophet will be interesting for her, too. I am going to get more craft books from the library and start making the effort to involve her in cooking. I am even planning to sit down and play Madinah Salat Challenge game with them, so they have a halal and educational fun time with me. We are going to make rag rugs together insha'Allah, practise our Quran daily, listen to interesting things and I'm thinking to turn her on to Sahih Al Bukhari. I believe she will enjoy reading ahadith and understanding more about the way the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, lived. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. It will certainly be a big adjustment for a girl who goes through 4 or 5 chunky chapter books per day of a 4th - 5th grade level or higher. But it is time to set things right and take her out of that form of entertainment.
Today she asked to read the Stories of the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, masha'Allah. Then she proceeded to read a selection of our Islamic children's stories. This is the beginning. I pray that Allah blesses me in this and makes my children of the rightly guided strangers in this dunya - ameen. As I gradually build up the adhkaar, the dua', the little Sunnahs of eating and sleeping, I can feel them thrive under the light of Islam. Tomorrow we will fast, insha'Allah. As we draw closer to Ramadan, I feel hopeful that we will strive more this year than ever before.
May you all be guided to what will truly impact you and your family this Ramadan and see it through - ameen.