Friday, January 4, 2013

Learning Character through Stories

I have been very conscious of my character lately. Although, my children often get complimented for their character traits from other people, I know much of what they learn is through following the example of their parents. However, they do take on character traits of their companions, we all do. As my father always said "Association brings on Assimilation" which is not a bad thing if you have good companionship. But it can be a detrimental thing, if you don't. Hardly anyone has 100% bad character, it's usually a little good mixed with a little bad. My dilemma is how do I keep my child having great character on their own while not under my watch. And how do I strengthen my character and that of my family. In Islam we call character, manners, or one's morals: Adab and it is a branch of Islamic study incumbent on all Muslims. Our Prophet said "God has sent me to perfect good manners and to do good deeds" (Bukhari)

One of the Scholars, I sit with regularly recently did a talk on the issue of cliques and leaving people out. All of his talks are taped and you can listen to them here. The main Hadith he used was "When three of you are together, two of you must not converse privately ignoring the third till the number increases, less the third should be grieved." Stressed on the last part because the whole point is as Muslims we should be careful on making people feel unwelcomed or grieved. He is an African American Imam, that is fluent in Arabic, Urdu, and English and is married to a Pakistan-American women, his congregation is primarily from India and Pakistan. He specifically was talking to them, saying we should not hold conversations in Punjabi excluding the rest of the people in the circle when we all can speak English. English being our unifying language. He also said Imam al Nawawi's commentary added speaking a different language than the third. He said that this is an issue of poor Adab or of poor character. He said if you see somebody sitting by themselves, don't expect them to come over to your group. They may feel uncomfortable and they could possibly be waiting for an invite.

If two children are given a generous slice of pie to share. One child cuts the pie giving herself a much bigger piece than her friend. There is no blame on her friend for accepting it, she in fact deserves Praise by being satisfied with her portion. Ultimately, we should all be satisfied and grateful with what God gives us in life. However, for the child who intentionally gave herself the much bigger piece, shame on her for thinking she deserves more than her friend. This sense of entitlement and selfishness, is not the behavior of one particular race or group as some say History points to, it is a disease of the heart that affects us all if we are not careful.  Our humanity and morals lie in the heart, not the intellect, we can justify our actions all day in our brain. However, we were all given Revelation, Muslim, Jews, Christians and others Religions, we have examples from the young child that has not been tainted by their parents and examples in God's creation, and we have been given a heart by our God that wants to do good.

I recently wrote about my trip to Canada, where the Imam of the Masjid showed us great hospitality and it stood out because many have a hard time with being greeted with Salaam or a smile when entering a new mosque. This is not the case of all Masjids, I have felt warmth and been given a genuine greetings all over the United States. Although, it is problematic for many and it is not the Sunnah. Our Prophet said even a smile is an act of charity or Sadaqa. Continuing with what the Scholar said previously about waiting for an invite. I feel that people who have been attending a Masjid or a group for awhile should seek out new faces and welcome them. I believe that new people have the rights of a guest, and by being an old member of a congregation one has been afforded some comfortability and security and therefore is accountable to their guest or new person. I have lived in Maryland almost a year, and I have been very blessed to have a friend who keeps inviting me with her group of friends until I feel comfortable. When my daughter joined a homeschool group, there was young lady her age with a beautiful smile and a welcoming personality who helped her fit in. Although, the young lady moved to Colorado, this act of kindness has longed been remembered and I can say that her behavior is just like her mother who is just as kind-hearted. This is the character I want my children to exemplify and sometimes it takes something to happen to remind you how much it is needed.

My Lil A has experienced the mean girl syndrome at the precious age of 4. I am not your friend, sticking out tongues, hitting and acting disrespectful and other bad character is not normal for a child this age, it is learned. In fact all my Beloveds have been exposed to many behaviors that has made me question many things. I don't want to keep my Beloveds in a box, that is not what homeschooling is about. Socialization is wonderful, when being socialized into norms and morals that make someone into a better person. All of this has made me come to a point where I need to be more straightforward in Character Education. There are many great resources out there written by Christians and even some good secular ones. The problem I have been having is finding a good curriculum that has Islamic values. We have gone through two already, but most Islamic Character education are written as stories very few creative cards or lesson plans. Then I thought stories are actually the best way to teach Morals. Aesop and Brer Rabbit were some of my favorite growing up. Humble dad is really good about reading Islamic History to them each night, it used to be stories of the Prophets, and now he has been reading more Sahabah and Ottoman Sultan books. I read more fables to them during the day, especially some books like Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Sign where the lessons or Morals have been directly written. All I really needed was a log for my Beloveds to keep track of the Islamic values they have learned so we can review them often. Therefore, I simply created a log, and of course I am sharing it with you.

I love the stories by Molla Nasreddin which was originally Turkish, but has been translated to many languages all over the world. One story tells about how Molla went to a banquet and he was dressed rather shabbily and no one let him in. So he went home, put on his best robe and returned to the banquet where the usher greeted him kindly and took him to a fancy table. When the food was served, he put the sleeves of his robe to the table and said "Eat sleeves, it is apparent that you are the real guest of honor at this table, not me." And so the Molla is the symbol of this log and the cover if you keep it in a notebook. The log can be kept in different ways, just like a book log where the moral or lesson is written , or you can have your child draw a picture in the space provided on the other sheets.

I will be sharing more of my Beloved's Islamic Studies notebook in the future, but here is a preview.

Free Downloads
Islamic Stories & Character Education

More Islamic Studies
Arabic Letters
Arabic Vocabulary
Asmaa ul Husna
The Meaning of the Quran

Two Great Islamic Character Curriculum

Two New Manners Activities (we have not used them)

Find more Islamic Stories in our  Amazon Store.
Remember don't feel obligated to buy anything, I have not received a penny from Amazon thus far, the store is there for you to get ideas. 

1 comment :

  1. Where did you get Muhammad workbook and the Asma al Husna pages? Love your blog. Keep on sharing. May Allah SWT reward you.



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