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IslamQA: Raise children as Muslims, or let them choose their own path?

Salam, brother. I hope you are in a good health. I have this thought passing through my mind and I'm deeply thinking about it and concerned if one day when I am married and have children, of what should I do in that situation. And so, I have a rather personal question for you related to that, if you don't mind. As you can see, you hold onto Islam so firmly and sincerely. This makes me curious of how will you raise your children. Will you teach them Islam and raise them Muslims, or will you allow and let them choose whatever path they want? How does Islam view this? That is all my question. Thank you very much for your time.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

That is a good question, and the answer to the question as I stated it in the title is to raise children as Muslims, and to let them choose their own path.

If Islam is true, then our children have a right to be brought up in an environment that makes it as easy as possible for them to understand, experience and adopt Islam. They should be encouraged to learn Arabic, read the Quran, pray and attend mosque services.

However, a wise parent will also respect the fact that their children are humans honored by God with the ability to choose their own path freely. Their love for their children should not be conditional on the children being good Muslims. If a child starts to doubt Islam, the parent should not act as if the child is wicked. They should let the child take his/her time and grow in their own way. A parent should even be prepared for the child to one day completely abandon Islam. It might just be a phase and they may come back after some time, months or years later. The most important thing in such situations is love; if the child is treated with love and kindness despite doubting Islam, despite even wanting to leave it, and if good relations are maintained in such situations between the parent and child, then the child will be far more likely to come back to Islam at some point.

It is not our job as parents to force Islam on our children. We try to make it possible for them to be the best Muslims they can be, but we keep in mind that they have free will and can always abandon Islam if they want. Respecting a child’s free will leads to the child feeling honored and respected, while trying to override their free will always leads to rebellion.

Also see this answer where I deal with similar themes: Dealing with a homosexual child in Islam

And God knows best.
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