I Let My Child Choose His Own Religion. Here’s Why
When a baby is born, his religion and faith is automatically determined as per the beliefs of his or her parents. The newborn does not have a say in deciding this important part of his identity and later in their lives, the children have to defend something they did not choose for themselves.
In our part of the world, religion is considered a ‘sensitive’ topic and every kind of open discussion on religious practices is not only discouraged but also punished. Having an open mind and questioning religious customs is not possible because in doing so you cross a red line set by humans who routinely misinterpret religious teachings.
Islam does not discourage critical thinking, but the followers of this beautiful religion have made it a crime to think differently and ask questions. If, for instance, one is unable to understand the rationale of a particular religious command, the right thing to do is to consult a religious scholar and ask them to elaborate on it. But the mere thought of not ‘understanding’ an Islamic concept is disallowed and people turn hostile towards the person asking questions.
When I became a mother seven years ago, I decided to let my son choose his own religion. My husband and I belong to the Sunni sect of Islam and are practicing Muslims. But I have taught my son to make his own decision. On his fifth birthday last year as a relative suggested that we should hire a Qari sahib (Quran teacher) for him, I straightforwardly told him that we were not going to do any of that. I won’t teach my son something he cannot even digest at such a young age. I have seen people making their little children learn the Quran by heart in order for them to boast about their ‘hafiz’ status. But how many of these children actually understand what they memorise in the Quran?
I am therefore firm on my belief that my child will be taught religion only when he is young enough to understand what it all means so he can make his own decision. If he chooses Islam as his religion, I would be delighted. But I will still love my child with all my heart if he chooses a religion different than mine. We need to give our children this liberty and let them choose their own religion.
I recently had a conversation with my child about faith and am glad that he is clear-headed about his views on religion. Contrary to popular belief, this critical thinking skills that I am trying to instill in him have not made him a rebellious child. He is ever so obedient and knows the difference between right and wrong which a child his age ought to know.
The notion that without religion one cannot be on the right path is absurd. If you are being a good person just because you fear hell, then you are not actually a good human. I have taught my child the difference between right and wrong without trying to instill a fear of hell and destruction in his mind. When he grows up and is old enough to make his decision, I will support him all the way.