Last year I read a post (https://momsofmuslims.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/one-who-should-not-be-named/) written by a dear friend of mine, Maria. Its message tugged at my heart-strings and I remember exclaiming, ‘That’s awesome!’
My eldest daughter was 2 years old at that time and I was confused as to how to explain the concept of evil/Shaitan to her.
A couple of months later I found a Bismillah song which became an instant hit with my kids. In this video, little parrots remind a girl to recite Bismillah before everything she does. When she forgets, Shaitan takes over and misguides her. Then, an angel inspires her to say Ta’wwuz, which causes the Shaitan to run away. (Ta’wwuz is a prayer taught to us by Allah to seek refuge from Shaitan.)
One random day, as my daughter was watching this video, she looked at me and asked, ‘Mama he isn’t a very good uncle, is he?” (She meant Shaitan)
She was hardly 2 and a half years old then, but I realised that she was ready and took the opportunity to tell her about Shaitan in an age-appropriate way.
I sat her down and taught her that there is a ‘bad guy’ out there who wants us to displease Allah, who wants us to do all kinds of bad deeds. What we have to do is immediately realise that we are under his influence and recite the Ta’wwuz. She understood some bits, but not much.
Over the next few days, however, whenever we watched that song, she would want to hear the same ‘story’ and I would gladly oblige. I would tell her that ‘Shaitan’ inspires us do a bad deed. But, it’s actually our fault because we ‘choose’ to do it. We have free will and can choose to banish him and be the good people we are inherently supposed to be. In order to do that, however, we need Allah’s help and the Ta’wwuz is literally a plea to Allah against the devil.
At this point, I am also reminded of a scene from the Story of Yusuf (AS)- when his father told him that his brothers would plot against him because ‘Shaitan’ is definitely a great enemy. I find this very beautiful; he didn’t blame Yousuf’s brothers because it would have caused enmity in the heart of Yusuf (AS). Instead, he blamed Shaitan!
[Of these stories mention] when Joseph said to his father, “O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me.” He said, “O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy. (12:4-5)
I’ve taken this lesson seriously as a parent. When my kids misbehave or throw a tantrum, I prefer to direct my anger towards Shaitan and remind them (and myself) to recite Ta’wwuz, instead of blaming and cursing them all the time. (Well, I do fail sometimes and end up blaming them for many things. After all, I am an average desi mom who needs much improvement as a parent!). Also, when one of my kids does something wrong to another, we try to recall blaming Shaitan. Even my 21 month old has started asking me, ‘Shaitaan?’ – (as in ‘Shaitan did it, right mama?”)
A video on anger management by Baba Ali (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGKzPL1lzsU), helped me understand more about how Shaitan works and how Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us to curb anger by reciting Ta’wwuz, sitting down, drinking water, performing ablution etc. I try to practice this at home too. Well, most of the time!
I also looked for more ways to reinforce the concept of Shaitan in my daughter’s mind. Using the above image from the book ‘A to Z of Akhlaaq’ by Sr. Nafees Khan, I told her how Shaitan makes a child throw toys and have tantrums (she had started doing that recently). She was quiet for a moment and then asked if that is the reason a ‘Shaitan’ is drawn above the boy’s head in the picture . I said, “Yes, probably!”.
Let me confess – while all this was happening, I was in a frustrated state of mind and was facing anger issues myself. So, helping my daughter learn all these key points would remind me of my shortcomings too. And since I believe in ‘parenting by example’, I started to work on myself as well.
Ever since, I have been a work-in-progress. I lapse often but now I have my kids at my aid. Every time I start to get angry, one of them has the guts to say, “Mama please recite ta’wwuz – Shaitan is coming at you!”
But, in the end, we are all humans. I am not perfect and I cannot expect my children to be perfect either. We work as allies against evil; I calm my daughter down when she needs a reminder and she advises me when I need it.
Perhaps, as children, it is easy to not hold a grudge against another person and blame Shaitan instead, but it starts to become increasingly difficult when we grow up. As adults, we blame people and are full of enmity and hatred against others. I hope I learn to let go of my resentments and that my kids grow up to be people who do not harbour grudges. How amazing would this world become if all of us apply this lesson!
Disclaimer: Although the picture above depicts Shaitan is inspiring the boy, we do not know what is the shape/form of Shaitan since these are matters of unseen in our deen.
About the author:
A Muslim by birth and choice, Accountant by way of studies, an artist at heart, house wife by profession and a blogger mom to two toddlers.
I blog at amuslimmama.com