Teaching Your Child About Their ‘Own True Self’
“Did you know you have two hearts?
Yes! There is the one inside you, that beats and pumps blood around your body.
But then there is your real shining Heart which is your real true self.”
Ever since Aiysha wrote that sweetest of posts introducing Baby Eesa to you, our lovely readers, and acquainting us with the the concept of the ‘Shining Heart’, I’ve been wanting to do a mini halaqa for children based around this totally universal of topics.
And just a few days ago the perfect opportunity arose! Since schools were out, our Mommy & Me Halaqa group (we met Tuesday mornings at the ISBCC in Boston Mass) decided to replace the regular Halaqa with one for the kids and so, I volunteered to ‘lead’ it. ( A Halaqa is a kind of weekly ‘circle’ of people gathering together to learn),
What I most love about this idea of the ‘Real True Self’ is the Universal Truth at the core of it. Although inspired by the teachings of 12th Century Islamic Scholar Imam Al Ghazali, one doesn’t have to be Muslim to recognise the ultimate truth in this concept. In islamic jargon this is described as the ‘fitra’ the knowledge of inner good that all souls were created with and anyone, of any or even of no faith – any one with a heart will recognise it.
Can you believe that writing my thoughts out loud on the Word Wide Web doesn’t intimidate me but accepting responsibility for holding the attention of a bunch of kids was making my heart race?! Still this group of mothers and their kids are pretty awesome, the last project we attempted was a shadow puppet show depicting the story of the Hijra.
Our kid crowd ended up being a good balance of 3-6 year olds with a couple of 8 year olds too.
Do note – although I was presenting to Muslim children in a mosque setting this can absolutely be used as a presentation/ lesson/ work /activity for ALL children – of any faiths and of no faiths too. I really do think it’s ideal for any global classroom. In fact had I thought of it earlier I might have volunteered to be the class parent for my 6 year old’s ‘Valentines Day party’ at school and presented this as an alternate valentine activity about the ‘heart’
Here is what I said and did if you’d like to see and the beautiful art work the children created as an activity afterwards;
Sit in a circle on the floor at same level as children
Who can tell me where their heart is?
Everybody get up… ask one child to volunteer by coming up to the front and demonstrating to the rest
Star jumps / running on the spot/ get your wiggles out/ star jumps/ running on the spot / get your wiggles out.
Ask children to stop and sit down and put their hands on their hearts
Feel your heart… can you hear it thumping? That is your PHYSICAL heart –
It needs good food and exercise to be strong and healthy
What kind of foods do you think a healthy heart needs?
Now ~ did you know you have TWO hearts? YES! This PHYSICAL heart that beats and pumps blood around your body
AND there is your real shining heart which is your real true self. That is your SPIRITUAL heart.
This heart needs food too but a different kind – this heart needs LIGHT And like a flower it always turns towards the light and like the Moon it always reflects light.
This is your real shining heart – it gets dirt on it when you do things that are beneath your dignity like
HURTING SOMEONE DELIBERATELY
You can polish your special invisible heart when it gets dirty and keep it the way it truly is full of light. What are the kind of things we can do to polish our hearts?
TELLING THE TRUTH
If you polish your heart with kindness and good actions that make it shine – It will shine right out of you like sunbeams on your face and sparkles in your eyes and you will always look and feel lovely. I can see that all of you must have beautiful shining hearts because I see such sunshine faces right in front of me!
One way of keeping your heart shining is by following the Sunnah. Who knows what the Sunnah is?
(‘Sunnah’ is the tradition of or the ‘way of’ the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his example and the way he would conduct his life ~ The practising Muslim is encouraged to follow all the sunnahs)
Can you give me some examples of the Sunnah?
Let’s read a story and see if we can spot some important Sunnah practices in it.
(Choose any book you like, it doesn’t have to be an ‘Islamic book’ per se. In our house any book with a message of goodness, kindness and truth is an ‘Islamic book with an Islamic message’ I chose this one which is an absolute favourite of my kid’s at home about a Zoo Keeper whose best friends come to visit him while he is sick. The main Sunnahs depicted in this book are those of kindness to animals and of visiting the sick (both of which are practices the Prophet exemplified and highlighted as virtues)
Of course this particular book was being read to muslim children hence the emphasis on the Sunnah but were it being read to a general audience one could just say : “lets read this story and see if we can spot some shining hearts in it” or something to that effect.
Here is how one artist chose to represent their shining heart …
Image Credit : Flowering Heart Painting By Zarina Teli
(I felt it important to introduce an element of the visual too) I happen to own this painting but for this part one could present other examples by artists depicting the heart or the state of the heart. Some examples are here & here.
What do you think about it?
How does it make you feel?
Why do you think the artist chose flowers ?
Would you like to make some art representing your shining heart?
Would you like to make a drawing of one thing that you will do to make your heart shine today?
‘Fill your Heart with Love, Kindness and Mercy’