The heart of a child should be nurtured with belief in God and spiritualism at an early age. Learning about God at an early age will help a child to overcome the difficulties of this life, not only in their childhood, but also in later adult years. The more a child is exposed to a community that observes religion, the easier it will be for that child to understand and accept religion and spiritualism later in their life. It has been observed that children who grow up in a spiritual environment are more likely to establish healthy relationships with their parents [Nursi 2002]. Islam teaches that children are gifts from the all-compassionate and generous God. We should love and care for them with perfect compassion and tenderness to ensure their healthy growth.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who was referred to as the “Living Qur’an” by his wife Aisha, is a primary example of how to understand the Islamic concept of how to nurture children’s spirituality. Just as in other aspects of life, the Prophet Muhammad serves here as an example of how to raise children.

In many of his teachings, the Prophet Muhammad emphasized the importance of showing children kindness and compassion. Since children are weak and powerless, their spirits flourish best when they come to know and experience for themselves their compassionate and powerful Creator. Through trust in God and surrender to His guidance, children will be able to face fears and challenges throughout their life.

A child needs to feel safe, and the best way to give them this feeling is to teach them that God is the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate and that He is protecting them from all evil. A child, weak and needy, can feel secure in life only through this belief. Furthermore, teaching a child to be grateful for everything they possess and receive is another vital aspect for healthy spiritual development. A child should be made aware that everything that is given to them ultimately comes from God. In this way, they will grow into a thankful and appreciative person.

Showing mercy and love to children has a special place in the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings. To address the importance of mercy in children’s spiritual development, the Prophet stated, “Whoever does not show mercy to his children is not one of us [Muslims].” Thus the Prophet Muhammad taught that children should be approached with mercy, love, respect, and trust, while Islamic teachings particularly emphasize mercy and love. His wife Aisha gave the following example:

One day a person from the desert came to the Prophet Muhammad and said, “You are kissing children but traditionally we don’t kiss them.” The Prophet replied, “What can I do if God removed mercy from your heart?” (Bukhari, Ahlaq; Muslim, Kitab al-Fadail)

Another teaching by the Prophet on this concept concerns his grandson Hasan:

One day the Prophet was in one of the markets of Medina. He left the market and so did I. Then he asked thrice, “Where is the small child?” Then he said, “Call Hasan.” So Hasan got up and started walking with a necklace of beads around his neck. The Prophet stretched his hand out like this, and Hasan did the same. The Prophet embraced him and said, “O Allah! I love him, so please love him and love those who love him.” Since Allah’s Apostle said that, nothing has been dearer to me than Hasan. (Bukhari, Libas)

It is important to note, however, that the Prophet Muhammad was overall even-handed in his approach toward raising children. He was merciful and loving towards children, but he was also resolute in his guidance. Of the Prophet Muhammad,