There was this one book I had been trying to read for the longest time, I was a first time mum and my son was just over his first birthday. After what seemed like years I held a book in my hand that wasn’t meant for him but for me! It was the bestselling ‘Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. I’ll tell you now my ambitions, considering my motherhood situation at the time, were a little too high.
The library sent many reminders and I had already renewed it the maximum number of times, so on our next library trip I reluctantly returned it (having never reached the end!). However, not before I had read this one tip in the book that I thought was genius and would stay with me forever in its truth and simplicity.
The writer described what she called one of the ‘Facts of Life’ as ~
‘When you lose something – tidy up, you will most likely find it’
Bam. That was it. It’s one of things that you know is true but you just never, as my son would say, ‘thinked’ it for yourself.
So even before I had heard of that ‘Clean Up’ song every preschooler and their grown up, ever, learns, I had the best reply for my toddler whenever he came to me asking me to find something for him –
“If we lose something we have to tidy up and then we will find it! Lets tidy up!”
Whenever I had lost something as a child, I would relegate the task of finding it to my little sister. In every family there is always one ‘finder’, and she was ours. Later Mama told me of the simple dua’ (prayer) to recite for this very purpose. (It is one most of us are familiar with saying at the time of learning about a person’s passing but did you know it is also a Du’a for finding things?)
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un
إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
“Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.”
Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 156
There are others, but this is the shortest and simplest, so simple in fact that even a child just learning to talk could repeat it. And he did.
I have talked before, about how I tried to instil, in the kids, this idea that we should always ask Allah FIRST and turn to Him first for anything at all. But, truthfully, it was this, this moment on reading Gretchen Rubin’s tip, which was my light-bulb moment in realising how to capitalise on the idea, and really show my child, not only the power of PRAYER but the power of ACTION with prayer.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un
While we tidied up we would repeat this rhythmic line. Sing it, in fact. Even as a 15month old he would smile at the beautiful sound of it and soon he was trying to imitate the sounds “inalilahii…lihai… lihai…lihai …(the lihai could go on for a while) until a triumphant – “RAJIOOOON”
In my heart I would make that extra dua’ that ‘Oh Allah keep his faith intact’
And … It worked. Every, single, time. (As a bonus we started fostering the habit of ‘tidying up’ too!) Allah is “Al-Wajid” – The Perceiver, The Finder, The Unfailing”, who never failed a diaper wearing toddler in finding that small thing. As my son grew older, he found it natural to turn to his Creator. Once whilst driving and worrying out loud ‘hoping’ to find a parking space on reaching our destination, I heard a voice pipe up from behind me ‘mama let’s ask Allah to help us find a parking space’.
This is a real thing that your child can understand. In fact the younger the child the more readily they will feel this truth. And don’t worry about what your child will think if his ‘dua’ isn’t answered immediately. If love of Allah and a reliability on God has been fostered from a young age – as your child gets older they will start to understand about patience and timing. As Aiysha mentioned recently that despite her refusal to allow her kids to have a pet kitten, her 6 year old daughter has ‘firm belief’ that her dua for a kitten will be answered one day.
And who knows, you might even get a tidy room out of it!