Friday, April 07, 2006

Children Inspired to Pray

Yesterday I was reading some books on Sufism (Islamic Mysticism) for an essay I have to a write on a famous 11th century Sufi mystic called AL-GHAZĀLĪ. I was reading a chapter about al-Ghazālī's childhood in which he emphasizes the importance of children's EDUCATION. In particular he focuses on the ROLE OF A TEACHER in a child's life and how a child should listen, obey and respect their teacher.

He illustrates the role of teacher in a child's life by sharing the beautiful short story about the childhood of one Sufi mystic called SAHL (who's full name is Sahl bin ‘Abd Allāh al-Tustarī), born in 896CE.

Here's the story:
When Sahl was three years old, he used to get up at night to watch his uncle, Muhammad bin Suwār, pray. On one occasion his uncle asked the child if he would also like to give praise to his Creator.

The boy asked how he should praise Him, and his uncle replied:
“When you put your night-gown, say three times within your heart, without moving your tongue, “God is with me, God is watching me, God is looking upon me.”

The boy learnt to say it and then his uncle told him to say it seven times each night, and the child did so. Then his uncle said, “Say it eleven times.” The boy carried out his instructions and, speaking of it afterwards, he said that the sweetness of the words sank into his heart.

At the end of a year his uncle said, “Bear in mind what you have learnt and continue to do this for the rest of your life.”

Reading this story I felt a feeling of "WOW" and my mind thought "VAAHE-GUROO" (Amazing Lord!). The story highlights a child can be inspired and put in the right direction of life at such an early age. This is the difference between a GOOD PARENT and BAD PARENT. The good parent NURTURES the child with the SEEDS of good action and thought, and ENCOURAGES the child to THANK and PRAISE the Creator.

Recently I was chatting to my friend Arwinder Singh (from Reading). He told me that his uncle and young cousin had come over from Canada and visited them. I was pleasantly TAKEN BACK to hear that his cousin, who is 6 years old, knows ALL of Japji Sahib OFF BY HEART, as well as other Shabads from Gurbaani! Amazing! Such a young age and yet knows so much. I know 6 years old who can't even put a proper sentence together LET ALONE memorise and feel GURBANI.

Bhaji also told me that his cousin's younger sister, aged 4, also knows many Shabads off-by-heart! SAT NAAM, WAHEGURU! Blessed are those children's parents! The parents are both Amritdhari and have SPENT TIME on their children and given them a GOOD FOUNDATION in life. May Waheguru bless such lucky children, and may future mothers and future fathers be inspired to INSPIRE their children and be the ROLE MODEL in their lives, just as the Uncle praying in the story INSPIRED the 3 year old child to join his uncle to pray to God.

Rab Rakha.

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