It isn’t easy to send a boy to the mosque for prayer. So I have been learning…
Last year, I told you about the one trick I have been using that helped my son love to pray Salah. That trick, worked all those years when he was at home and not yet ready to start going to the mosque. Ever since he turned 7 years old, the game plan in my house has been changing over and over again.
When you have a child under seven, getting them to pray with you or on their own is not that much of a problem, as I have learnt. I have two daughter too and Alhamdulillah, they follow me in their Salah but I must add that they are very small still, so for them, it is more of a game than actually praying.
When the boys turn seven, initially it is all a rosy path to get them to start praying at the mosque. They treat it like a new found freedom to get out really. But gradually the enthusiasm really starts to crack. I have seen this with my younger brothers and now my two plus year of experience with my own son. My son is 8 and a half years old now and we live very close to a mosque but… I am always struggling to get him to go to the mosque to pray.
Fridays, are no problems because together with his father, they have some fun tradition that he is very fond of. It is the daily prayers that are difficult.
My son gets up at 5 in the morning for school on weekdays. His bus arrives at 6am so it is a little difficult for him to get dressed and head to the mosque for Fajr. He prays Dhuhr in congregation at school. He comes home at 3pm. Asr is at 3.30 or 4pm depending on the seasons. Usually, he prays the remaining three prayers at the mosque. I try not to be too hard on him so sometimes, he will miss either Asr or Isha’a at the mosque. We try to aim for at least two prayers at the mosque so that he can get his habit right. On the weekends though, there is no leniency. He must go to mosque for all five with his dad.
It isn’t easy sending them to the mosque, I must warn you. If you are reading this article and are a mum to a boy or more, then I am sure you know my struggle. They are forever making excuses to stay at home. Sometimes, you can see a legitimate reason but mostly it isn’t so. No doubt, they are little and it is difficult to leave your Lego and go for prayer. It is even more difficult to stop playing with your friends to go to the mosque.
My sons routine at Asr is that he will be having some quiet time. At Maghreb, he will be playing with his friends. At Isha’a, he has to have dinner finished before he heads for prayer. He is tired. He has homework, he is worked up… He just doesn’t want to go. But life always comes in the way for prayer, doesn’t it? This is what I want to teach him: That life will always be. That we are always doing something and that prayer is the call from heaven. The pause button that you have to press in order to revive yourself.
I often tell him that prayer is to help him remember that it is time for an activity change.
Quiet time over. Move on to active play at Asr.
Active play over. Pray Maghreb and move over to dinner and homework.
Eating and homework over. Pray Isha’a and sleep.
This makes him think of prayer as a part of his schedule. To an extent, this has worked for us but then again… Sending him to the mosque is still challenging. He has to get out of the house. He has to leave what he is doing, Wudhu, put on his shoes, walk to the mosque and pray. It takes effort, which he isn’t willing to put in.
I am always talking to him about the reward of going to the mosque for prayer or in congregation versus praying alone at home. ‘You get 27 times the reward for it.’
We also talk about the prayer (dua) that one says when entering the mosque:
Allah hummaftahli abwaba rahmatik -O’ Allah open for me the doors of Your mercy
Allah humma inni asaluka min fadhlik- O’ Allah, Verily I seek of Your Bounty.
I tell him that this is the special Dua he gets to pray at the threshold of the mosque and also the meaning of it. If you haven’t talked to your about this Dua, I recommend you do. This is something all children should know when they start going to the mosque.
While I was writing for this post, I wondered about the ways I get my son to go to the mosque for prayer. Some are amusing no doubt and it made me laugh at myself but seriously, I am sure most of the mums reading this post will agree with me: A mother has got to do what she has got to do to send her son to the mosque. The reward is just too much to not care!
Here are 10 ways that I have tried that worked. I am sure you can relate if you have sons. My experience has been not just my son but also the fact that I have a little brother who is 12years younger than me. I had experience applying them on him all these years and when I had a son of my own, it came naturally. I am a master pester! 😀
10 Ways to get Boys to go to the Mosque for Prayer
Don’t laugh! The struggle is real. A mom has got to do what a mom has got to do to send her child to the mosque.
- Nag him: Don’t we all moms? My nagging (reminding) starts 10-15 minutes before the Adhan actually. It always helps to prepare your child for prayer. If they know how much time they have it helps them with transitioning from one activity to another. I start by telling him that it is 10minutes to Asr. Please finish up and get ready. I’ll remind him again in a few minutes that it is 5 minutes or 2 minutes so ‘please hurry up, put the toys away and prepare yourself’. He hears the Adhan. Most days he is done but sometimes he is adamant. I have to tell him to go till the Aqamah.
- Bribe him. Sometimes there will be ‘mom please not today. I am too tired.’ or just some xyz excuse. I bribe him with, ‘please go to the mosque I will be baking a cake and I need you to taste it after you come back. We can have a mom and son party’ or some excuse that says ‘if you go, I will give you something’.
- Star chart or smiley chart. As with all positive enforcement tricks, this works best. I don’t give an X but only stars or smileys. In the beginning, I gave him stars and he loved getting all stars but soon he grew bored so we shifted to a smiley for every time he went without a reminder.
- Tick chart. We also had a tick chart that goes up and down every few weeks. It is a simple chart where he gives a tick for every time he went to the mosque. This helped him feel accomplished. The difference between this and the smiley or star chart is that the other charts were coupled with other activities that needed positive results but the tick chart is for counting how many days or times he went to the mosque.
- Competition with his dad. We have a tick chart that is for both father and son. It is like a little competition as to who gets more ticks. When it is up, he loves beating his dad to go to the mosque.
- Get a mosque buddy: His buddy has been his grand dad, his neighbour and another play mate. At Maghreb, D is usually playing outside. He finds it hard to go by himself so one day, I called his friend to ask him to go with him. They could resume play when they came back, I told them. The friend had just turned seven and he hadn’t been going to the mosque yet. He was very excited and ran to his mum to seek permission. The mom was happy that her child was so eager and had an older friend to look over him. It worked! Sometimes the friend is not around but my father lives close by and D is very fond of his grandfather. He loved going to the mosque with his grand dad.
- Get an accountability partner. My father turned out to be a very good accountability partner. The few times that he couldn’t take his grandson, he would ask him about it later. Or at Isha’a he would ask him his reason for not going. Son would go because grand dad would be asking.
- Send him to a different mosque. On weekends, when he is at home with his father, I have found it works to send him to a different mosque. We live in Jeddah and our area has quite a few mosques. If he leaves a little early, he can very well catch the congregation somewhere else. Of course, I have to make sure someone accompanies him for this trip though.
- Make excuses for him to need to go out. Some days when he is totally not going, I use the shopping trick. Please get me XXXX on your return. That means he has to go to the corner shop or get tomatoes or ice cream while returning from the mosque!
- Just grab his arm and throw him out. Then there are those days… When I throw him out. Sigh. Sorry to say, this is one thing that I have become a pro at. I used to throw my brothers out. Now, I throw my son out. Some days, I just have enough of the arguing and since prayer is nothing to bargain over, I just grab his arm and throw him out. His slippers are thrown out after him. He can sit outside on the steps or he can go for prayer. His choice. A mum’s gotta do what a mums gotta do to send her son to prayer.
That’s about all the ways. If you are a mum to a son and have experience or funny incidents, do share your advice. What do you do to send your child to the mosque. I’d love to add your ideas to the post too.
Like this post? Here is another in the series: