Young children usually cannot attend the Masjid because they have not learned the manners or conduct that is expected from them—and they end up causing disruption and disturbance to the worshippers. Therefore, the tarbiyah (cultivation) begins at home by emulating their fathers and mothers when they pray (and in other affairs). The fact that women pray at home and men establish the optional prayers there gives younger children the opportunity to watch and learn.
They notice that there is silence during the prayers, the worshipper does not move around, eat or drink, rather is focussed—the mother wears her hijāb—and during the prayer, children notice that their parents pay little or no attention to their surroundings. Children pick up on these things, and quickly learn how to pray and how to behave around those who are praying. So, by the time they are ready to attend the masjid (after 7 years of age), they already know the manners expected from them in the houses of Allah.
There is for you in the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu alaihi wasallam) an Excellent Role Model:
The Qur’an explains the importance of following an example that is exemplary and righteous. So parents should be excellent role models to their offspring—and avoid showing evil manners and sinful behaviour.
Allah, the Exalted, stated:
“Certainly, there is for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example to follow for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and who remembers Allah often.” (Al-Ahzāb, 21)
This verse shows us the best of all examples to follow, and the most important and obligatory model to be emulated. Just as the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wassallam) is a guide by way of his speech, he is also a guide by way of action. So, we are obligated to emulate his outward actions of worship as in his (salallāhu ‘alaihi wassallam) saying:
“Pray just as you have seen me praying.” (Bukharī, 631)
Furthermore, we are obligated to follow his manners, behaviour and conduct—and when we (in turn) display these manners, our children will follow us, and be a source of pride and happiness for us. Allah, the High and Exalted, stated:
“And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.” (Al-Qalam: 4)
We see much wisdom in the words of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu alaihi wasallam). For example, he said:
“Offer some of your prayers (nawāfil) at home, and do not turn your houses into graves.” (Bukhāri, 432; Muslim, 777)
There are benefits in this hadeeth and intents that becomes apparent when we ponder. The house should never be devoid of prayer, the women are rewarded more for praying in their homes than praying in the masājid. Abu Dawūd reports (no. 567) from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu alaihi wasallam) said:
“Do not prevent your womenfolk from the Mosques, though their homes are better for them.” (Authenticated by Al-Albāni in Al-Irwā, no. 515)
So be parents and guardians who are fine examples, and make your children mirrors of your fine character. Bārakallāhu feekum.
By Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Wāhid Alam.