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notme

Teaching children at their level

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Salam alaikum

My preschooler has recently been asking about the soul and the afterlife, and I've realized I need to read up a bit so I can answer her questions. I've also found that quality well written resources in English are sparse enough, resources for English speaking children are virtually nonexistent, especially on abstract ideas. 

Are other children just not asking deep questions, or are other adults, like me, unsure how to communicate the answers? Any advice, on this particular subject or in general?

Thanks.

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Wa alykum Salam,

 Interesting question. I have friends who have kids around 4-5 years old who ask very deep questions about soul, the reason of human creation, God, etc, and according to my friend her 4 year old ask questions which she did at the age of 18 :D.

One question her 5 year old asked recently was what is the reason humans are created, and where were they before they came to planet earth, and why some have decided to come to earth and why haven't the rest come.

Since my friend is well informed about the issue and is very much interested in religion herself, she explains the matter to her child according to her level. Infact all the mothers in the ladies group , I know , even ask these questions from their kids as young as 4 . Because they attend a religious class ( not in English ) which encourages mothers to engage kids mentally in such topics and don't consider it early.

Good idea to increase your knowledge on the topic, because some kids can ask very difficult questions you may not even have an answer to Lol.

Edited by certainclarity

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Parables. Kids make lots of sense with parables. You could give an answer with a battery charged with sun, so its not something one could touch but is there.

Talk about teaching little girls why they need to cover their hair and body. We were in similar situation and told them point blank, look how pretty moms look, and dads are all hairy and darker - lol, and that Allah swt wants to hide beautiful things like holy Kaaba etc and wants to keep other things exposed such as tress and plants. Its anything which they could relate to as long as the logic is not totally silly.

Enjoy the cross examination of few hours though.  

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Bismillah.

Salaam.

 

The question about soul/spirit (Rouh) that is a mysterious concept, has been raised during history and there are many views in this regard through philosophy, mysticism, religion and etc. this question also was asked from the Prophet (p); Allah (s.w.t.) says in the Qur'an:

 

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّ‌وحِ قُلِ الرُّ‌وحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ‌ رَ‌بِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلً

"They question you concerning the Spirit. Say, ‘The Spirit is of the command of my Lord, and you have not been given of the knowledge except a few [of you]. (17:85)

 

As explicitly shown, this thing is a mysterious being and due to some wise reasons, Allah (s.w.t.) does not want us to be aware of it a lot; it could be due to our limitations to have access to the spirit through experimental methods and it is beyond physical laws.

There are some Ahādiīh in this regard, if you want to see let me know!

 

With Duas.

Narsis.

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@narsis Brother sorry to trouble you, I'm interested to read up on these hadith and any other credible source. Did a little snooping around, didn't find much but theoretically make-do metaphors without a source.

@notme I once made the mistake of responding to my 5 year old nephew. 'Uncle where do babies come from'. I kinda shrugged him off 'Mummy's belly'. He ran down to share his own imagination to my sister in law, 'Uncle said you have babies in your belly'...I WAS LIKE WAAAAT....I DID NOT!

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These hadiths are from usool Al kafi regarding spirit for your own information :

The Spirits and the spirits that exist in the Imams (a.s.) :
 

H 344, Ch. 21, h 3

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from Muhammad ibn Khalid from Qasin ibn ‘Urwa from ‘Abd al-Hamid al- Ta’i from Muhammad ibn Muslim who has said the following.

"I asked Imam abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) about the words of Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, ‘I have blown My Spirit into it (15:29)’"
The Imam (a.s.) replied,
 
"The spirit has motion like winds. It is called spirit (Ruh) because the word is a derivative of Rih (wind). This derivative is selected because the spirits are similar or are of the genus of the Rih (wind). He has given His own possessive case because He selected it from among the other spirits just as He has said about a House from among the houses ‘My house’ and to a messenger from among the messengers ‘My friend’ and so on. All such things are created, invented, newly produced and are cherished by the Lord."
 
H 714, Ch. 55, h 1
 
Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Husayn ibn Sa‘id from Hammad ibn ‘Isa from Ibrahim ibn ‘Umar al-Yamani from Jabir al-Ju‘fi from abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) who has said the following.
 
 "O Jabir, Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High has created the creatures in three categories as mentioned in the words of Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High. "On that day, you (mankind) will be divided into three groups: (56:7) The people of the right hand - those whose books of records will be placed in their right hands. How happy they will be! (56:8). The people of the left hand - those whose books of records will be placed in their left hands. How miserable they will be! (56:9). The foremost ones (in faith and virtue) - the foremost ones in receiving their reward." (56:10).
 
The foremost group is the messengers and the people of special status with Allah among His creatures.
 
 Allah has placed in them five spirits and has supported them with the Holy Spirit. Through this spirit they recognize things. He has supported them with the spirit of faith because of which they maintain fear of Allah (in their souls).
 
They are supported also with the spirit of power because of which they are able to obey Allah. They are also supported with the spirit of desires with which they maintain their desire of worshipping and obeying Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High and dislike disobedience. He has placed in them the social spirit to socialize and establish proper relations among people. In the believers and the people of the right hand He has placed the spirit of faith because of which they maintain fear of Allah. He has placed in them the spirit of power with which they obey Allah. He has placed in them the spirit of desire. With it they desire to obey Allah. He has also placed in the social spirit and because of this they maintain social relations."
 
H 715, Ch. 55, h 2
 
Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from Musa ibn ‘Umar from Muhammad ibn Sinan from ‘Ammar ibn Marwan from al-Munakhkhal from Jabir who has said that when I asked abu Ja‘far (a.s.) about the knowledge the scholar he said the following.
 
 "O Jabir, in the prophets and in the executors of their will there are five spirits.They are:
 
1-The Holy Spirit,
2-the spirit of faith,
3- the spirit of life,
4-the spirit of power
5-and the spirit of desire.
 
Through the Holy Spirit, O Jabir, they receive the knowledge all that is below the Throne all the way to under the land." He then said,
 
"O Jabir, these four spirits are the kind of spirits that  may become affected by the events that take place. Only the Holy Spirit is that which does not do trifle things and does not wander around."
 
H 716, Ch. 55, h 3
 
Al-Husayn ibn Muhammad has narrated from al-Mu‘alla ibn Muhammad from ‘Abdallah ibn Idris from Muhammad ibn Sinan that al-Mufadal ibn ‘Umar who has said that I asked abu Ja‘far (a.s.) the following.
 
"I asked him about the knowledge of the Imams of the regions of the earth when he is in his house secluded behind the curtains. The Imam (a.s.) said,
 
"O Mufuddal, Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, has place five spirits in the Prophet.
 
1-Of such one is the spirit of life with which is movement and activities.
 
2-There is the spirit of power with is uprising and assiduousness
 
3-and the spirit of desire with which is consumption of nutrients and reproduction in lawful ways.
 
4-There is the spirit of faith with which is peace and justice.
 
5-There is the Holy Spirit with which prophet-hood is carried. When the prophet passes away the Holy Spirit transfers and comes over to the Imam (a.s.).
 
The Holy Spirit does not sleep or become unaware. It does not trifle or maintain false hopes.
 
The other four spirits sleep, become unaware, may maintain false hope or trifle.
 
With the Holy Spirit things are seen." 
 
Edited by certainclarity

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Children are curious creatures. They question and explore, and so learn.

I have been asked by my little brother various questions regarding God and the creation, etc. For example, just other day, he asked, "Why did God make bad people?" I just responded that God does not make bad people, he gives everyone a choice to either be good or bad. Those people who are bad choose to be bad. Now if you have the choice to be good or bad, which one would you be? He replied, "I will choose to be good".

 

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Irfani313 said:

Parables. Kids make lots of sense with parables. You could give an answer with a battery charged with sun, so its not something one could touch but is there.

Talk about teaching little girls why they need to cover their hair and body. We were in similar situation and told them point blank, look how pretty moms look, and dads are all hairy and darker - lol, and that Allah swt wants to hide beautiful things like holy Kaaba etc and wants to keep other things exposed such as tress and plants. Its anything which they could relate to as long as the logic is not totally silly.

Enjoy the cross examination of few hours though.  

Hairy and darker! Doesn't it sound somewhat racist xD!? Anyway, it could make sense in a kid's head lol. SADLY!

I agree with the parables thing. I have noticed that working with kids as well. When you explain something to them, and they understand a bit of it, they tend to ask you if what you are explaining to them is comparable to anything they know. If you try to explain them how to play minecraft, they may ask you "is it like organizing the pieces of a puzzle?". They try to find analogies with ideas and concepts they are familiar with, because that is their known language. Most religious concepts are part of an abstract language (and I'm of ghe opinion that religion is a language as a whole by itself), thus finding appropiate analogies is part of our task. You know your kids better than anyone else, and you somewhat know what they know. Teach them using their own language, as that is the only way they will be able to understand and maybe interiorize religious teachings. Best of luck :P!

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@Bakir it isn't only kids who like to learn by analogies. But what analogies did one use to describe aspects of the soul and the afterlife? She even asked me about before life,  and I know nothing about what our beliefs say about that.

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Many religious sayings are already in the form of analogies. Even in Christianity we find many.

The soul could be described as something we are responsible of keeping clean, pure, integral. Anything in real life that requires constant care could do a good analogy (a plant, for example).

As for the afterlife and life, I guess that's more complex xD!

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Salam Brother and Sister,

I hope my experience could help. My daughter ask me about soul once, back when she was 5 or 6. I had a chat with a friend who happen to be a psychologist who have expertise with children education. She told me, at that stage, children needs a concrete example, so less abstract explanation. Once they grow up a little, we can add more comprehensive on top what we already told them, like expanding the knowledge.

So i told her," do you familiar with Cellphone?" she said yes, (please put in mind, this is the most simple explanation i came up for a 5-6 years old kids)... then i said," well, it's the same with human, we have soul, aql/akal, and body... Body is like the cellphone that you hold, soul is the battery, and aql/akal is the chip like our brain"... "so, if you take someone soul, it's like you taking out battery from your cellphone, it'll die".. "we buried the body like we throw away the cellphone", then she asked," what happen to the aql/akal or the chip?" ... i was perplexed, but i blurted out," well with human, aql/akal would continue and be questioned inside the grave, so with cellphone, we could check the chip, if it's good, we can use it for something else".... Then she said," but dad, your iphone doesnt have batteries that can be taken off" this is where i told her to go to her mom and ask for some candy.

Anyway, kindly use a simple word when explaining to children, if you plan to use big words, make sure you have time to really walk your kids through. Because at this stage, whatever they got, it'll be the "first brick" to everything else. 

If you encounter some questions you can't answer, tell them," that's a very good question, you know what, let me check first and i'll let you know when i got the answer"... BUT, make sure you come back and answer it, because if it got repeated oftenly your kids wouldn't ask anything to you ever again," i won't ask dad/mom about anything, he/she never gave me answer".

A quick helps for you @notme, before this life, you're with Allah, and Allah lend you to me, then when everything finished you'll return to Allah once more. If the kids asked, why through this process, Allah want you to decide for yourself whether you want to go to heaven or hell. Heaven is where all the good guy go while hell is where all the bad guy go. How to separate the good and the bad, Al-Qur'an. Why Al-Qur'an, because that's Allah guide book for life. Then you can continue with short du'a like Al-'Asr, good guys always reminds people to do good. Then Al-Hujurat, these are for akhlaq. What is good? Shalat, Zakat, helps other in other form then zakat, cover your body with garment, don't steal, etc. How we do this? ah, apparently we have Rasulullah (pbuh) who already set an examples on how to do things. 

There are several books available online for younger audience. Maybe you can check al-islam or http://www.shiabooksforchildren.com/children/ and here's a good one http://www.shiamultimedia.com/kidsbooks.html. Some quotes from our Imam about educating children https://moralsandethics.wordpress.com/2006/11/14/educating-children-wonderful-sayings-of-imam-ali-pbuh/.

Well, i thought it'll be short. 

Salam.

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On 12/22/2015 at 2:15 AM, certainclarity said:

Wa alykum Salam,

 Interesting question. I have friends who have kids around 4-5 years old who ask very deep questions about soul, the reason of human creation, God, etc, and according to my friend her 4 year old ask questions which she did at the age of 18 :D.

One question her 5 year old asked recently was what is the reason humans are created, and where were they before they came to planet earth, and why some have decided to come to earth and why haven't the rest come.

Since my friend is well informed about the issue and is very much interested in religion herself, she explains the matter to her child according to her level. Infact all the mothers in the ladies group , I know , even ask these questions from their kids as young as 4 . Because they attend a religious class ( not in English ) which encourages mothers to engage kids mentally in such topics and don't consider it early.

Good idea to increase your knowledge on the topic, because some kids can ask very difficult questions you may not even have an answer to Lol.

yes i do agree, increase our knowledge.. kids often ask very difficult question..

I'm kindergarten teacher, and everyday comes  lots of new questions! :D

thanks for others' answers. it really helps.. :)

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