I love this idea that was done at our mosque. It encourages people to pray for others as they would for themselves!
We are reminded all the time that Ramadan is a month like no other… and therefore, should not be treated like a normal month. It’s hours, minutes and seconds are precious… and yet, with Ramadan traditionally comes iftar invites, sehri gatherings, sports events and the like. And with that, potentially, the usual chit chat, time-passing and other things that are often not so fruitful.
So how can we marry the two? I have put together a list of ways we can change this gatherings into ibadah, Inshallah, if we do it right! Some are the usual ones, and hopefully some may be some new ideas for you 🙂
- Clarify your niyyah
It is highly recommend to feed others during this month, and so inviting people over for Iftar is a great way to fulfil this. But whether you are inviting others, or going somewhere yourself, ensuring that your intention is to do it because it is an act that pleases Allah will hopefully bring blessings into your evening. Even if you go to play sports, clarifying your intention that you are doing it to keep your body healthy during this month, so that you can serve Allah in other ways, will allow you to transform that sport into worship.
- Don’t overdo it
Now that your intention is sorted, it is important to remember that balance is important. Moderation is the way in Islam, and this is the same. There is no need to attend every event that is going on, or accept every invite. It is OK to be choosy and attend a select few which you think will be beneficial for you
- Have a talk
Last night I attended a wonderful family gathering where we got together to celebrate the birthday of Imam Hasan (as), as well as enjoy some quality time together with cousins. The highlight of the evening was a short talk by a cousin, which was simple, practical and very effective. Adding meaning to a gathering by a short talk is a wonderful way to bless the occasion!
- Share goals for the month
One lovely thing to do – especially closer to the beginning of the Holy month – is to identify and share at least one goal for yourself for Ramadan. We did this in a friend’s group one year, and found that hearing other’s goals not only inspired us but helped us clarify our own, and motivated us to see it through! To top it all off, the hostess gifted us a little notebook for penning down these goals and other reflections during the month, and had blessed it with a personalised message for each of us!
- Share a hadith each
If you feel a talk is too formal, or perhaps no one attending can give a talk, then another great way to get everyone learning as well is to ask all coming to bring a hadith to share. When we did this at a gathering of friends recently, we found that the hadith that everyone chose to bring really inspiring and led to some great discussions!
- Share any other info – a favourite verse, a favourite line of a dua, a new Quranic dua you want to learn, one thing they have learnt so far, etc!
In the same vein, why not branch out and give guests a little fun homework! So they can bring a favourite verse that they like, or their favourite line of dua, a new Quranic dua they want to learn to recite in their Qunoots, or even one thing they have learnt so far in the Holy month.
Somebody hosted a themed iftar last year – the theme was ‘His Love is in the Air’ 🙂 All the friends were actually asked to do all four of the suggestions above! Furthermore, they were asked to present it nicely, but were not told why. When everyone had eaten, they began sharing their four things and showing what they had put together. Once each person shared what they had chosen and why it was meaningful to them (which was beautiful in itself!), they picked a name out of a hat and in line with the verse, “You will not attain piety until you spend of what you love; and whatever thing you spend, Allah knows of it.” (3:92), they then were asked to gift their presentation of their favourite verse/dua etc, to that person whom they picked.
Then in line with Allah’s promise of giving us more when we give something, they each got a little something as a gift. The gifts were little things to do with the kitchen and home, such as a cake tin, worktop saver, etc, but each item had a small dua to go with it! So for example, with a tray, the message read: “A tray can hold so many things and requires a balancing act to carry! This Ramadan, may you put all of your prayers and problems on Allah’s tray and leave the balancing to Him!” and so on…
Alhamd it was a lovely evening filled with the remembrance of Allah in the most beautiful, personal way.
P.S. Here is the poster I got! It was so cleverly done, with pictures to symbolise each of the four things, and the text behind.
- Play meaningful games
It doesn’t all have to be serious stuff in an iftar / sehri! But the games CAN be educational and fun too 🙂 One mum printed out short lines from the Quran / Duas and the aim of the game was for one person from each team to take turns to pick a chit, read out the line (Arabic AND meaning) and use that to try and guess which Sura or Dua it was from. It was scored so 2 points for a correct guess. A little help could be given from the rest of the team and then it would be scored as 1 point. Once done, they got to choose a little gift from a bag, and then create a little personal dua from it! For example, if they picked a water bottle, they might say: “I pray for Allah to keep helping us grow with His help, just like water helps things grow!”
Here is the document for those that want to try it 🙂
- Discuss a good book
Last year we started a book club, and held our first sehri during the month of Ramadan. The book was secular, but had lots of links to Islam and as we all shared our thoughts and relevant hadith on the topic, it felt like a beautiful session with God at it’s center. Why not choose a book a month in advance, and set a date to discuss it during a gathering?
(P.S. This wasn’t the book we read for Ramadan, this came later… but you get the gist ;))
- Hold an event for a greater cause
There is a group in our community who host a beautiful iftar every Ramadan, and it’s ultimate goal is to raise money for charity. We pay tickets to the event, and there are raffles sold with lots of people donating their services as prizes; lots of money is raised, and an evening of community building and fun is had in the process!
- Top it all off with Sadaqah!
And lastly, a lovely way to top it all off is to encourage giving when people attend a gathering. For younger children, inviting them to bring in food to donate to a food bank, or new gifts to give to refugees or the sick, is a lovely way to incorporate charity into an event. For adults, having a sadaqah box present on the table alongside the food, and inviting people to donate to a cause is also a lovely idea.
Have you had any meaningful gatherings during Ramadan? Please do share!
I love the way this mum explained dhikr to her children – and her ideas for making it a part of their family life are lovely!
As seen on Facebook:
This past week my boys began a new Islamic Studies class. The teacher assigned them the homework of saying “astaghferullah” 100 times a day.
Alhamdulillah, we’ve been consistent in doing it every day. Yesterday, after we finished reciting together, I asked them if they knew why we did it.
They said to remember Allah and ask forgiveness.
I said, “But you are children, Allah doesn’t hold you accountable. So why should you do it?”
They shrugged and said they didn’t know.
I replied, “Well, one day in sha Allah you’re going to grow up and then Allah will hold you accountable, right? So, it’s very good to get in the habit of these things now to prepare you for later. Does that make sense?”
They said yes.
I then said, “There’s also another reason why doing this type of dhikr and dhikr in general is very good for you. When you can focus your mind on doing something by repeating it, it’s very good for your brain. Do you know why? Well, your brain is kind of like a muscle in that it needs exercise every day. Just like people spend hours in the gym doing “reps,” which is short for repetition, of different exercises or weightlifting because they are working out their body’s muscles, we need to also exercise our brain. Dhikr is a great way to do that. We focus on something and get very good at it and our brain gets stronger. It’s also very good for our hearts because anytime we call on Allah ﷻ’s name our physical and spiritual hearts, and our whole body actually gets healthier.”
In the digital age when an unprecedented amount of teens and youth, and even small children, are either addicted to devices, video games, television, or on very serious prescription medications for anxiety, depression, ADHD, and a variety of other mental health related issues, we need to empower our small children with ways to quiet their mind.
Dhikr is the best practice to teach mindfulness and meditation to children. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend that every parent do the following:
1. Buy individual prayer beads for every member of the household based on everyone’s color/bead preferences. You can even get them involved and excited by taking them shopping to buy their own prayer beads at a nearby Islamic bookstore or online if you don’t have one in your community!
2. Keep the beads in a special container somewhere in the house that is easily accessible to everyone.
3. Have dhikr circles daily (if possible) after one of the prayers or even before bed time.
4. Teach your children that they can do dhikr by themselves whenever they are sad, upset, sick, tired, etc. Teach them from an early age to call on Allah ﷻ (not just mommy or daddy) when they are not feeling happy.
5. Give them clear objectives and goals based on THEIR preferences. Some children might like doing simple tasbih like “alhamdulillah, subhanAllah, and Allahu Akbar,” where other children might want to do salawat an-nabi or astaghferullah. Give them options of which dhikr THEY like most and let them pick that one to start. Guiding them to do what their hearts incline to instead of what you assign to them is a much better way to encourage them in sha Allah.
May Allah ﷻ guide and protect all of our children and always keep their hearts close to Him. Amīn.
Fruits in a bowl is our next Thoughtful Gift! Healthy and pretty, with a dua linked in – hopefully this gift was enjoyed a lot!
The dua reads: “And (mention) when Abraham said: My Lord, make this a secure city and provide its people with fruits – whoever of them believes in Allah and the last day.” May Allah bestow His fruits on you this Eid!
There are many duas to recite in Ramadan, and we should aim to try and explain the concept behind these duas to our children so they are aware of what they are reciting and why. There has been an amazing influx of different ways to help our children know what they are reciting in the short duas, as opposed to reciting it simply by rote. Here is a collection of them!
- These animated versions of the dua with simplified words and matching pictures are great to print out, laminate and stick up: Ya Aliyyu Ya Azeem and Allahumma Adkhil
- We’ve also made it into a game! Here is the link for that.
- Ramadhan Dua’s is another version for the three short duas by Tanveer Shares, and also includes Dua Faraj (Ilaahee ‘adhumal balaa’), Dua Hujjat and Dua Ma’rifah.
- And here is a lovely rhyme for Ya Aliyyu Ya Azeem:
- Why not get your children to act out the lines in Allahumma Adkhil? Here is a lovely example of one family who did that:
- And here is another video done by children to explain Allahumma Adkhil through art!
- Here is a video on how to teach Allahumma Adkhil through pictures:
- Here is an activity on Dua no 3 by Towards Jannah
- And here is a video for Dua no 3:
- For older children, how about these duas in English:
- Buzz Ideazz have released an Understanding My Ramadan Duas journal to help older children take a deeper look at the daily duas we recite, including Dua Iftitah.
A series of videos has also been created to go in depth into some concepts of the dua, for children 10 years plus – for more info, click here.
- Youth Dua Hub – Dua Al Iftitah made easy – this is the dua translated and simplified to help understanding, by Youth Dua Hub