Storytelling….what a wonderful way of tarbiyah (the development and the training of people in various aspects)! When Allah (SWT) ordered parents to guard the pure souls of children entrusted to them, and to do their best to fulfill His trust in the coming generation, He provided parents with every means that could help them perfect  this mission. Allah has showed us in the Holy Qur`an and in the prophetic traditions, the effective ways of tarbiyah and has given us a lot of examples to guide us.

Tarbiyah by setting example, by creating self-respect, by playing, by preaching…. and many other ways which when properly learnt and sincerely followed would bring about a good, pious, moral and successful child. One of the best and most effective ways, is tarbiyah through storytelling.

Stories have a magical effect on the soul, when the stories arise out of the fabric of the imagination and the environment. It has always been so and will go on forever, it runs through our blood as a part of our creation, from birth to old age. A good story teller can have a personal style that has psychological effects, make intellectual/spiritual impressions. Logical and mental motivations, may be because of the power of imagination that follows actions from one scene to another…or imagining ourselves as its true heroes or empathizing with them in their fears and tears.

Why Should We Narrate Stories to Our Children?

Stories teach diverse view points, help shape culture, and allow  children to actively share knowledge using their imagination. It develops mental skills in children and adults, while  conveying  a moral lesson

These stories show among other things, that things are not always as they appear and often logic fails us ( as in Surat Al Kahf). Through the enjoyment of the story you will subconsciously allow your mind to get the deeper significance of the tale.

Stories are a point of contact with the universe that helps young ones to make sense of the world. To read mindfully means to become more conscious of the nature of the words we take in and more conscious of how we transform and appropriate those words.

The Teaching-Story, which is common in most traditions because adults use this form to help the child to understand, needed lessons, does all this and more. Its real psychological significance and developmental potential is just now being rediscovered, investigated and applied in the West.

“Studies have shown that reading or hearing a Teaching-Story activates the right side of the brain much more than does reading other stories or material. The right side of the brain provides ‘context,’ the essential function of putting together different components of experience into a meaningful pattern. The left side provides the ‘text,’ or the components such as the words or elements of an illustration.”

Teaching-Stories  help the children to be more flexible in dealing with the surrounding complex world and through the multiple layers, they possess wisdom that could be revealed over time, or in response to some other experience or event.

What can we teach through stories?

Almost everything, Aqeeda(faith), Akhlaq(morals), Seerah (prophetic biography), life experience, literature, human communication skills and even Fiqh( look at how Al Hassan and Al Hussein taught another man how to perform wudu`- ablutions).

Islam and story telling

Islam uses all kinds of stories in Qur`an and Sunnah; the historical stories that sometimes refers to particular real persons ( prophetic stories) or just a human case that will be repeated through time (e.g. sons of Adam and The Owners of the Garden).

In your situation you have chosen Prophet Yusuf ‘s story ( a very good choice indeed), but it is not crucial to tell the whole story or all the lessons from that story to your child. In terms of friendship, you can convey how people one does not know very well, tried to trick him into making many mistakes. They failed to trick him, because he refused to do what they wanted to do, and so, for no reason he was imprisoned. When your children are old enough to understand more, you can tell them the rest of the story which teaches them what they need to know at that age.

You can tell them a lot about prophet Yahya and how was his manners and deen

O Yahya! take hold of the Book with strength, and We granted him wisdom while yet a child, And tenderness from Us and purity, and he was one who guarded (against evil), And dutiful to his parents, and he was not insolent, disobedient}  (Maryam 19:1214)

And postpone telling him that Yahya was beheaded because he refuse to let a prostitute marry her uncle …and so on.

  • In Islam it is always a teaching one
  • And it can go through the whole day not only a bed-time activity

Post-listening Activity

One of the most useful ways to test their response is to encourage your children to tell these stories to you or to their friends and allow them to invent some of their own, also to act it in a form of a short play with their friends you will be amazed by their abilities and creativity