Nowadays, there are many seemingly harmless cartoons on free-to-air TV or cable TV such as Shimmer & Shine, Vampirina, Ben & Holly and many others. The characters in these programs make magic seem cool and if we are not careful, our children may grow to rely on making wishes and turning to magic as a means of problem-solving instead of having Allah Al-Fattaah The Ultimate Judge, The Opener of All Portals, the Victory Giver as the only One that we should turn to for anything. These characters look so adorable that it is easy for kids to relate to and be attracted to them.
I make it a point to sit with my kids as they watch cartoons and take my time to reflect and explain to them on the learning points. I feel that as parents, we should guide them in this journey instead of just banning them from watching totally. As they grow and slowly fly out of the nest, they will be exposed to many things in this world. It is not possible for parents to sanitise the world or keep our kids in a bubble so the next best thing would be to equip them with the power of knowledge and hone their analytical skills.
I will usually bring them back to basics and analyse with them first on who the creators of the animation series are. At times, we will go through the credit roll and try to guess from the names if they are Muslims or not although sometimes it might not be outrightly obvious from the names if they are. Non-Muslims might not understand the principles of our faith and therefore genuinely have created those characters without intending to lead a Muslim astray. In fact, we must be careful even when watching shows produced by Muslims as there are some shows that might influence akhlak and aqidah or promote non-ideal moral values. We should always reflect and analyse the ideologies revolving around the show we are watching and focus on the learning points.
An example is when a genie grants someone his or her wish, I will probe the girls had it been them, who would they ask from and why? Then I would ask them on what they think on how genies look like in real life?
Next, we can relate back to instances when magic was used according to stories in the Quran. One that is popular with the children would be when the Jews cast a magic spell on the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). By virtue of the divine protection given to him, no magic could refrain or divert him from discharging his duties as a Prophet. However, the spell cast by the Jew made him to suffer from some disease. On that occasion, the two surahs Al-Falaq and An-Nas were revealed, and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was directed to recite them, after which he was freed from the influence of the witchcraft. Then the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) used to recite them every night before going to sleep. I take this opportunity to remind them to practise the Sunnah and recite these surahs before they sleep every night and rub all over their body after blowing into their palms.
We can focus on the values taught in these shows like friendship and loyalty and teach our children to be conscious on ideas that can be caught in their sub conscience should they be not careful in taking charge of external factors that shapes our thoughts.
Even as adults, most of us are still struggling to battle our nafs and to be conscious of our thoughts and actions. If we train our children from young to filter their thoughts accordingly and while at it, we remind ourselves too, I am sure insya'allah we will work towards building a better ummah. والله أعلمُ بالـصـواب