Orienting our Children to Believe in an Unseen Creator | SoundVision.com

Orienting our Children to Believe in an Unseen Creator

Although we do not see Allah in this life, we are promised that we will ultimately meet him on the Day of Resurrection, and we will be able to see Him in the Hereafter. As a reward for excellence in faith and worship, the believer is given the opportunity to see his Lord in Paradise. Jarir ibn Abdullah reported: 

“We were with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he looked at the full moon one night. The Prophet said, ‘Verily, you will see your Lord just as you see this moon. There will be no crowd to block your vision. Thus, if you are able not to miss prayer before the rising of the sun and its setting, then do so.’ Then, the Prophet recited the verse, ‘Glorify your Lord with praises before the rising of the sun and its setting.’” (Surah Qaf, 50:39) 

(Bukhari, Muslim)

These are the foundational beliefs that we need to also teach our children.

Some Personal Background

Growing up as a Christian in Puerto Rico, I was ceremoniously baptized as a baby, attended Catholic school, and learned how to pray to a white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed god. At church and school, I was surrounded by depictions of a man who was said to be both God incarnate and His son, Jesus, as well as the woman they referred to as the “mother of God,” the Virgin Mary. Children were instructed to direct our prayers to these idols, for they were representations of the Divine on Earth. Saints like Mary and others were said to be intercessors between the devout and God. I observed worshippers as they clasped their hands together and closed their eyes in prayer in front of statues and paintings. There would be offerings placed at their feet like flowers, money, and jewelry. At home, I watched my mother light candles in front of an altar decorated with figurines that were smaller versions of these so-called sacred sculptures. My grandparents did the same, and on more than one occasion, I was gifted with a crucifix to wear around my neck as a constant reminder. They taught me from a young age to believe in a God that was tangible – that we could see and touch. This was a concept I had to unlearn as I grew up and became an independent thinker. 

Remarkably, even as a little girl, I never felt comfortable with praying to images. Deep down, I always believed in an Unseen God. In the Bible, we read that God made us in “His own image” (Genesis, 1:26-27), yet it seemed that it was human beings who were creating images of God based on their own reflections. This became more evident when my family moved to the U.S., and I began seeing other subjective versions of how God and Jesus supposedly looked. In white churches, God was portrayed as White; in African American churches, God was depicted as a Black man; and in predominately Hispanic congregations, the Virgin Mary was a morena, a brown-skinned brunette. Through my observations, I was convinced that putting a face to the Name of God was problematic – fueling racism, classism, and injustice, as well as causing confusion and uncertainty. 

What I did not know was that this apprehension was part of what we call the fitrah, the natural disposition that every child is born with. Undoubtedly, we are created with an innate ability to reason and to discern right from wrong. Abu Huraira reported: 

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No child is born but that he is upon natural instinct. His parents make him a Jew, or a Christian, or Magian.…” 

(Bukhari and Muslim)

Catholicism was simply passed down to me because it was the religion of my grandparents and parents, but instinctively I knew that God’s Greatness could not be limited to a statue or image created by man. There were too many signs to ignore. As Allah says in the Quran:

“We will show them Our signs in the universe and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that this is the truth. Is it not enough that your Lord is a Witness over all things?” 

(Surah Fussilat, 41:53)

In my teens, I learned about the concept of God in Islam and it coincided with my personal beliefs. Allah was the Supreme Creator, and there were no other gods besides Him. I already believed in the Oneness of Allah, and I believed in the prophethood of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, but I was not sure what to make of Jesus, peace be upon him. Once I understood his status as a Prophet and Messenger, and that he taught his followers to worship the One God, Unseen, without partners,  I accepted Islam wholeheartedly. 

Islamic Context

When I became a parent as a Muslim, I was faced with the dilemma of how to teach my children to love and worship an Unseen God. I wondered if it would be more difficult to explain since I never experienced it growing up. Would they want to see to whom they were directing their worship? How could they navigate the unseen without the reminder of a crucifix or statue? What I realized through study and reflection is that since we are already programmed to believe in a Creator, it is only natural that this Lord is Unseen. 

In the first few verses of the second chapter of the Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah describes the characteristics of the true believers. They are those:

“who are conscious of Allah … who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, and who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muḥammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.” 

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:2-5)

Historic Practices

A key feature of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is belief in an Unseen Creator. As monotheistic faiths, they share in their doctrines an opposition to the production and use of icons or visual images as representations of divinities or religious figures. I was even taught as a Christian that the second of the ten commandments stated that we should never bow to idols. However, of the three faiths, adherents of Islam seem to implement this practice most. 

At the conquest of Mecca (Makkah), when the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, victoriously returned to the land of his birth and Islam was established in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the first things he did was to destroy the idols that had been housed in the Kaaba. In an authentic hadith, it is narrated that: 

“The Prophet entered Mecca and (at that time) there were 360 idols around the Kaaba. He started stabbing the idols with a stick he had in his hand and reciting: ‘Truth (Islam) has come and Falsehood (disbelief) has vanished.’”


With this gesture, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, did away with idolatry in the footsteps of his ancestor, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), peace be upon him. Like Ibrahim before him, he preached against polytheism and called his people to worship Allah alone. Each of the three monotheistic religions claim Ibrahim and in Islam he is considered a prophet of Allah and a staunch opposer of idolatry. Allah elevates his status for being hanif, or a pure monotheist, who rejected idol worship even before being commissioned a prophet. In the Quran, a clear distinction is made between the three major religions in the following verse: 

“They say, ‘Be Jews or Christians [so] you will be guided.’ Say, ‘Rather, [we follow] the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth, and he was not of the polytheists.’” 

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:135) 

The same is mentioned in various chapters and verses. Ibrahim rejected idols from an early age, yet in other faith traditions, especially Christianity, depictions of religious figures became commonplace. 

Using Ibrahim as a Role Model

Our faculty of reasoning is a gift with which we can understand our purpose and our link to the Divine. Like our senses give our bodies the ability to experience worldly life, our reason connects us to the Unseen and the Hereafter. In addition to that, human beings are hard-wired to seek knowledge. Although it may seem daunting to teach a child to believe in an Unseen Creator, it is more natural than showing them a flawed image and telling them, “This is your Lord.” Children are born to learn, explore, and question everything about their surroundings. They have a keen sense of observation. We have evidence to this effect in the story of our Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, when he alone sought the truth about the existence of a Supreme Creator despite living in a town of polytheists. Allah mentions in the Quran:

“We also showed Abraham the wonders of the heavens and the earth, so he would be sure in faith. When the night grew dark upon him, he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord!’ But when it set, he said, ‘I do not love things that set.’ Then when he saw the moon rising, he said, ‘This one is my Lord!’ But when it disappeared, he said, ‘If my Lord does not guide me, I will certainly be one of the misguided people.’ Then when he saw the sun shining, he said, ‘This must be my Lord, it is the greatest!’ But again, when it set, he declared, ‘O my people! I totally reject whatever you associate ˹with Allah in worship˺. I have turned my face towards the One Who has originated the heavens and the earth, being upright, and I am not one of the polytheists.” 

(Surah Al-An’am, 6: 75-79)

The story of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, is a great lesson that we can share with our families, especially our younger generations when explaining the concept of God in Islam. By the mercy of Allah, Ibrahim was able to discern right from wrong at a young age even though he was raised to believe in polytheism and his father used to carve idols with his own hands. Ibrahim advised his father and exhorted him to question his actions, but he rebuked him. Ibrahim felt isolated but he never gave up hope in finding his true purpose, using his own reasoning, and observing the creation. After Prophet Ibrahim realized that idol worship was wrong, he did not keep this information to himself. He first tried calling his father to monotheism and then continued with his people. Allah tells his story in the Quran. He says:

“And We had certainly given Abraham his sound judgment before, and We were of him well-Knowing. When he said to his father and his people, ‘What are these statues to which you are devoted?’ They said, ‘We found our fathers worshippers of them.’ He said, ‘You were certainly, you and your fathers, in manifest error.’ They said, ‘Have you come to us with truth, or are you of those who jest?’ He said, ‘[No], rather, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth who created them, and I, to that, am of those who testify. And [I swear] by Allah, I will surely plan against your idols after you have turned and gone away.’”

 (Surah Al-Anbya, 21: 51-57)

Through this brave confrontation, young Ibrahim, peace be upon him, tried to understand the reason why his townspeople were engaged in idol worship. He wanted to know why, but they did not have a satisfactory answer. Like many of us who grew up in another faith tradition, the response to why is simple, “This is what our fathers taught us.” Religion thus becomes a mere custom passed down without understanding or certainty. In our house, it was never questioned until Allah removed the veil from my eyes, alhamdulilah. Prophet Ibrahim chose to question and reason. This led to the plan that he executed to teach the polytheists a lesson. Allah describes the incident in the Quran:

“So, he (smashed) them into fragments, except a large one among them, that they might return to it [and question]. They said, ‘Who has done this to our gods? Indeed, he is of the wrongdoers.’ They said, ‘We heard a young man mention them who is called Abraham.’ They said, ‘Then bring him before the eyes of the people that they may testify.’ They said, ‘Have you done this to our gods, O Abraham?’ He said, ‘Rather, this - the largest of them - did it, so ask them, if they should [be able to] speak.’ So, they returned to [blaming] themselves and said [to each other], ‘Indeed, you are the wrongdoers.’ Then they reversed themselves, [saying], ‘You have already known that these do not speak!’ He said, ‘Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you? Uff to you and to what you worship instead of Allah. Then will you not use reason?’”

 (Surah Al-Anbya, 21: 58-67)

Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, singlehandedly outwitted the townspeople by demonstrating that their idols had no power to protect them or even protect themselves. How could something that a person makes with their own hands be considered divine? When we contemplate over this, then it is easy to understand why Muslims would never worship an idol or direct any act of worship to anything or anyone other than Allah, the Creator who is Unseen, yet All-Seeing. In fact, the perfection of worship in Islam is to devote oneself to Allah Alone knowing that while we cannot see Him, He can see us as summarized in the famous hadith of Angel Gabriel, when he asked Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him:

“’Tell me about faith.’ The Prophet said, ‘Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, his Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in providence, its good and its harm.’ [Angel Gabriel said, ‘You have spoken truthfully. Tell me about excellence.’ The Prophet said, ‘Excellence is to worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He surely sees you.’” 


Human beings yearn to meet our Creator like orphaned children long to meet their biological parents. It is the most beloved recompense for the believers. We spend our lives in worship to an Unseen God, but we are comforted knowing that if we do good in this life, then we will get to live our dream of gazing upon our Lord for the first time in the Hereafter. 

Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam.

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