Childhood and Habit
The recommendation of Islam concerning making children gradually used to religious duties and higher virtues and restraining them from sinful conduct constitute a powerful means for creating a firm and stable foundation of faith and piety in their spiritual personality. The implementation of such an educational programme to a substantial degree will neutralise the harmful effects of environment in later years.
The Noble Prophet, may God bless him and his Household, said:
Accustom your children to prayer when they reach the age of seven. 22
Imam al-Sajjad, may peace be upon him, while counselling his children said to them:
Refrain from Lying in big and small matters and in jest and serious talk; for when a man lies in petty matters he will be emboldened to lie in bigger matters also. 23
Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him, used to say:
Impart religious education to your children as soon as you can and before your opponents take a lead over you and plant wrong and false ideas in their minds. 24
Bertrand Russell writes:
Every bad habit acquired is a barrier to better habits later, that is why the first formation of habits in early infancy is so important. If the first habits are good, endless trouble is saved later. Moreover, habits acquired very early feel, in later life, just like instincts; they have the same profound grip. New contrary habits acquired afterwards cannot have the same force; for this reason, also, the first habits should be a matter of grave concern. 25
22. Al-Nurri, Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, vol. 1, p. 171.
23. Al-'Amili, al-Hurr, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 3, p. 232.
24. al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 6 p. 47.
25. Russell, Bertrand, op. cit., p. 50
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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