The recommended book for August is The If Machine by Peter Worley. This book introduces philosophy to primary school children. When this book was first recommended to me by a colleague, I was hesitant of the idea of having a philosophical discussion with my seven year old. How was that going to happen? To me philosophy meant Nietzche, Iqbal, Krishnamurti, Kant… and was something taken up at A-level. However, from what we’ve read together so far, this book is absolutely brilliant. It’s filled with stories for children that are categorised according to age (5 — 10). My daughter has found them to be very stimulating and I have had many opportunities to pause and ask questions, such as ‘What might happen next?’ or ‘What do you think about that?’ In one of the stories we read (Billy Bash), the ending is left to the reader to finish off. This led to not only my daughter using her imagination but a good discussion at the end about why she had chosen that particular ending. Each story ends with suggested questions and extension activities.
Thank you for visiting this blog. It was set up as an exploration and never meant as a definitive guide to parenting. I hope you find something useful here. The faults are all mine.
Unless one becomes a parent, it’s difficult to know the degree of selfless commitment involved on a daily basis. It is, as Jon Kabat Zinn writes, “one of the most challenging, demanding and stressful jobs on the planet”… especially if done mindfully. Yet it’s also the most rewarding; when my son or daughter give me an unexpected smile, hug, kiss or say “you’re the best dad in the world”… I know every difficulty has been worth while.
The vision behind the blog was really to explore parenting from an Islamic spiritual perspective. This of course includes education. Despite the rich living spiritual traditions Islam has produced, I haven’t come across a good parenting guide or forum that discusses contemporary issues from an Islamic spiritual perspective nor an educational model which is on par with Steiner or Montessori. The future isn’t predictable even by the experts in education and we are living in times in which fundamental paradigms are shifting. The digital age is one in which things are growing exponentially and presents its own challenges. Raising the next generation of children is the most important task we can undertake. The work remains. I pray a few committed individuals of sound hearts or somebody of spiritual maturity and insight will undertake it.
The Salah of Seasons
The goodly tree within us begins as the seed of intention that is watered by wudu and then sprouts at the command of the adhan to become a shoot with the iqamah and then grows strong and lofty with deep roots nurtured by the Qur’anic springtime of the hearts. It then wilts in the summer time of glorifying Allah’s tremendum before falling prostrate to shed its attachments in the autumn. It is then blessed with a moment of self reflection before returning to the wintry earth.
The Story of Salah for Children
We would lead the children to mime the actions of wudu and salah while speaking in first person the story of salat as follows:
Performing wudu: ’I was created from clay and water – pure and worshipful was I made.’
Standing in qiyam: ’I was taught the names and purpose of all things as I recite the Qur’an.’
In ruku’: ‘I remember my parents Adam and Hawa (a) being given a preview of the world through the forbidden tree.’
Returning to qiyam: ‘I remember my parents’ repentance.’
Descent to 1st sajdah: ’I descended to the earth …’
1st Sajdah: ‘ … through my mother’s womb …’