Our children are blessings from Allah. It is our duty to raise them as good Muslims as they are like Amanah from Him. Allah says in the Quran, "Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this (dunya) world" (Sûrat Al-Kahf, 18:46).
".. Zachariah prayed to his Lord, saying, "My Lord! Grant me—by your grace—righteous offspring. You are certainly the Hearer of ˹all˺ prayers."Ali Imran:38
And those who say: "Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun" (pious - see V. 2:2 and the footnote of V. 3:164)."(Surah Furqan : 74)
In the light of above verses we should ask help and blessings from Allah to raise our children. According to Hadith we are to teach them Salat at the age of 7. This age is very important to start practice fasting.
The child may wake up at Suhur and let him/her keep fast for just a few hours. Encouragement is the best way to make them fall in love with this act of Ibadah. At the beginning they may keep their fast for 3-4 hours. Gradually it can increase along with support from the siblings and parents. Next year they may intend to keep fast for longer hours, perhaps even half a day of fasting! This will provide them encouragement and motivation to strive more. Reward for good deeds is multiplied during the month of Ramadan.
Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: "Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he will meet his Lord" (Muslim).
Our children need to learn that the month of Ramadan is a time to practise and strengthen self control. They need to have a constant awareness that Allah is watching us. This trains us to control our harmful behaviors and attitude.
Following are other simple ways to help our children build connection with Allah during this Holy month. As a mother of three children, I am sharing my best tried and tested tips.
- Fully decorate the house with paper streamers, paper lanterns and balloons to welcome Ramadan. Make it an occasion to celebrate! I spend every year making paper decorations with my children. They absolutely love it. Ramadan and Eid must hold that very special place in their heart. Considering the effects of covid and associated isolation and distancing are still continuing, it is imperative to make the moments at home more special for children. A quick search on youtube will get you many instructional videos on how to make simple paper lanterns. I suggest checking the Kidspot channel.
- Recitation of the Quran as a family. Do not pressurize to complete the whole Quran. Instead ask them to recite verses in Arabic with translated meaning. This way they are aware of what Allah is commanding us to do in order to stay on the straight path.
- Competition on memorization of verses of the Quran. Simply stated, this creates a fun, game-like situation for the whole family to participate in.
- Iftar distribution among the poor and needy. We did this last year by stopping our car and handing out iftar packs to the rickshaw pullers and beggars. As it was during Covid, we were all in the car and we handed the packs through the car window. It was a very exciting trip for my children. They were very happy when they saw how grateful those needy people were and how thrilled they were to get that unexpected food pack. Thinking of the needs of the unfortunate in times of difficulty is an important practise we need to foster in our children.
- Involve the children to arrange the iftar platters for the family members including the for the house help or chauffeurs. I also give iftar to our guards who stay awake all night to keep us safe. Remind the children of the beautiful Hadith:
- The Prophet (saw) said, 'Whoever feeds a person breaking his fast will earn the same reward as him, without anything being lessened from the reward of the fasting person'. (Tirmidhi)
- Collection of money for the needy. Keep an empty jar in a central location of your house. Try to put in small amounts of money every day. It is easy to fill it up with loose change we handle everyday. At the end of Ramadan count all the money and have the children donate the amount to a needy family.
- Involve them in making Ramadan /Eid cards for their grandparents, friends or relatives. Check out the Youtube videos by EzzyCraftsDIY for excellent tips on making Eid greeting cards at home. Handmade cards add that extra personalised vibe showing loved ones just how much the children care.
- Create a list of simple iftar recipes that your kids can participate in the cooking process. I made chicken pie, cheese cakes, mini pizzas and their most favourite was microwave mug cakes . Every week they looked forward to baking something new and then sharing it with everyone during iftar. Here is the link which I used: https://tasty.co/recipe/chocolate-hazelnut-mug-cake
- Watch short 10 -15 min Islamic videos on YouTube. After watching it, take a notebook and jot down the main points. Discuss and ask to see how much your kids understood or followed. Take their feedback. This way they feel important and take ownership of their learning.
- Prayer congregations at home. It was a lockdown so Tarawi was also prayed at home. All of us took turns each day to make a dua. It is very heartwarming to hear your child ask Allah in his or her own words.
- Making poster of a verse of a Quran or a simple two / three line hadith. You can involve your kids to choose their favourite one, type it on computer and then print it out in their favourite font. They can colour it afterwards before putting up on the wall.
Last not the least, do talk to your children freely and support them emotionally . Home isolation is hard for them just as it is hard for us. I hope and pray that we all have a blessed Ramadan. Make sincere dua to Allah to help us strengthen our Imaan and help raise our children as a responsible and kindhearted Muslim.