Wednesday, October 10

Islamic Babies

There's no deep and intellectual point here today. No, right now I want to talk about babies. Specifically whether the parents who brought theirs to Salaat-ul-Qiyaam a couple of days ago. The question is, are they being selfish?

For the sake of objectivity, let's consider both answers.

Yes, they are selfish: it's wholly inappropriate to disturb a baby's sleep and take them out into the cold at that time of night. Even if we disregard the baby themselves, it's inconsiderate towards the rest of the jammat - even if the parents can handle their darling's constant wailing that doesn't mean the rest of us have to.

No, they are not selfish: they should be applauded for not allowing their situation prevent them from practising their religion. Any small risk they take on the well-being of their child is their risk to take, and the rest of us should be patient and just deal with it.

Practically I don't see a problem with it myself, but principally I do see some issues (and yes, I lied about not having a deeper point).

Firstly we need to talk about the potential trophyism. Is the baby being used to show their commitment to Islam? There is no way of knowing this from an external point of view, but since we're talking about nafl prayer here, it's arguable how necessary it is for both parents to attend - they could rotate babysitting duties or something.

Secondly we need to talk about the sensibility of the parents. I'm not sure many would advocate dragging their babies out of their cots at 3am in the morning, so I think it's a valid question to ask whether these particular ones have a screw loose or not.

Thirdly, we need to talk about what impression is being left on the child. I'll leave the detail for another time, but I've seen people spiritually burn out before.

I'm reminded of how some brought their children on Hajj too. This is slightly different in two ways - firstly Hajj is an obligation so the costs to not do it are higher. On the flip side, it's a much bigger deal physically too, and I for one would never bring my children on the pilgrimage, both for their own safety and that of others (and I still baulk at the thought of those who brought prams along with them to the jamaraat).

Anyway. Practical Islamic exposure to young children: good or bad? I dunno, and I guess it ultimately depends on the parents. Personally I pity the child more than anyone else, and so will keep a lid on any irritations I have when they attend prayers.

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