Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad on technology and other parenting tips

We were at RIS in Toronto over Christmas break and had the blessing of hearing Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad speak a few, short times. I am particularly frightful of how to raise a child in such an iPhone-heavy culture and also a culture where there is such little guidance on how to raise Muslim children, that I loved this answer. I recorded it and transcribed it (though their may be a few mistakes because the recording is bad, disclaimer!)

Question:  How do we protect our children from harmful uses of technology, and can you give any general parenting tips on how to raise Muslim children?

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad: My kids went to a school where they weren't allowed to have phones in the school and where most of the parents don't have televisions at home, and it wasn't a Muslim school, we just had to pick the environment, because it's not just Muslims who are concerned with the spiritual, moral and social impact of children being surrounded by images and screens. Most thoughtful people are worried about what effect this is having on the plasticity of brains of young people and already the indications are that the brain is starting to change. Young people are functioning differently, neurologically, to the way they did 20-30 years ago. Everyone is concerned. So find a community, not necessarily just a Muslim community, of like-minded people. And make sure that your children can deal with that environment, and form their social ties on that basis.

Also give them a lot of beauty. Show them the beauty of Islamic civilization. MashAllah in this city [Toronto] you have a Museum of Islamic Art, which is an amazing place to take young people and to open their hearts to the grandeur and the beauty of our civilization. Make sure there's beauty in your homes, make sure they hear beautiful things, make sure they're surrounded by reminders of the greatness of our own civilization, and that will inshAllah give them a sense of the cultural productivity of Islam.

Help them to sing a lot, if they're willing to do that, because that opens up the hearts, opens up the mind.

Give them a sense that Islam is something bright, beautiful and joyful, and keep them away from the mullah with the stick, because his function is to hit them until Islam leaves them, as if he's kind of, killing their hearts. So avoid anything like the traditional maktab culture, because it's very counterproductive in this environment. Give them access to the beauty of beautiful sounds.

Show them movies, but make sure you choose them carefully.

Expose them to Shakespeare if you possibly can, and I tried with my kids, and sometimes they were patient, sometimes they weren't but still, they absorb it, because the stories were about timeless truths, Islamic truths.

Give them a sense of haqq, of truth. And when they know what truth is, what beauty is, then they'll automatically be attracted to Islam. But don't say, 'we do this because we're Muslims. It's haram to do anything else.' Because after a while they're going to say, well, why? What's the point? Tell them what haqq is, tell them what a dignified human being is, what are honorable decent forms of akhlaq, and behavior.

And then when they come to hear about the seerah and the sunnah, they will go for it spontaneously in sha Allah.

Alhamdulillah there are plenty of examples of parents who have done a wonderful job. The acid bath, the tub, in which modernity is assimilar to young people, particularly migrant countries that geared up to saying 'we'll give you the migrants a job. In exchange, you pay us with the souls of your children, that's the deal. A lot of us come to these cultures without really realizing that's the deal. Eventually they realize, it doesn't have to work that way. If you protect the souls of your children, expose them to beauty, goodness, truth, love, and show them Islam is a solution, a wonderful package of beautiful teachings, then inshAllah they will embrace it wholeheartedly, inshAllah. But Allah is the Director of hearts. The heart is between two of the fingers of the Rahman. He turns them as He wills.  He who prepares for it, makes the intention, does what he or she can, but Allah ultimately is the guide.

So pray to him for protection for our young ones, in sha Allah.