I love this activity that one mum did with her kids to celebrate the Prophets birthday!
Inspired by the Hadith by Imam Kadhim (as): ‘Whoever memorises 40 Hadith, in the Day of Judgement Allah will raise them as a learned scholar’, and by the verse in the Quran calling the Prophet the ‘Best of Examples’ (Ahzab:21), they put together a feltboard of 40 Hadith by the Prophet.
They used this board to keep track of every time they practised one of the Hadith like smiling or brushing, by sticking small stickers on the laminated Hadith.
They played memory games with the board by looking at it for 2 mins and then trying to remember what the different Hadith were about.
And they’ve also used it as a Pictionary game!
What a great way to learn about and emulate the ways of the Prophet 🙂
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!
Here is one of the hadith shared – very aptly 😉
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.
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!
“The relationship between parents and their children is one that cannot be compared to anything else in the world. In the Holy Quran, Allah (swt) prescribes the following: “And your Lord has decreed that you do not worship except Him, and to your parents, [show] good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age while with you, say not to them [so much as], ‘uff,‘ and do not repel them, and speak to them a noble word.” [17:23]. The Holy Quran exalts the status of parents, and hadiths do too; here are some great ones for everyone to take in, with an insight on how the child plays an important role in the relationship between them.”
One mum make Ali cookies with her little one! ‘We have a play dough set with Arabic alphabet cutters, my little one used them to cut the cookie dough and I just stuck the letters together, put toothpicks inside and baked. Then she helped me make the cupcakes too 😊 and we dropped them to all her friends. Then at home we stuck a candle inside and sung happy birthday to Imam Ali (AS) and she got to blow the candle out.’
One family read how Imam was a lamp in the darkness, and then made a lava lamp!
Mystery box: Usually used during circle time, you (or ask a child to) pull out items one by one that related to the theme or special person. As you take them out you explain the meaning or significance, and help deepen and broaden the children’s understanding of the theme or special person by attaching a visual and/tangible object to represent the different attributes of said theme/person. To make it more exciting, even with very young kids (2-5), you can put all items back in box and at the end of your session you can ask them to remember what items were in box. It’s a good way of seeing how much they picked up as well 🙂
The items mentioned below can be used for the mystery box idea:
No. 1 – to represent him being the first Imam
A small Kaaba – to represent where he was born
A toy lion – he was known as Asad-ullah
A ring – for when he gave charity while in ruku
A sword – to represent his sword of Zulfiqar
A door – to represent Khaybar/city of knowledge
A prayer mat, bread/rice – as he used to feed the poor at night
A bed – as he slept in the Prophet’s bed on the night of Hijra)
A spool of thread – to show how he used to mend his own clothes
A pen – because he transcribed/compiled the Quran
Scales – for his sense of justice
A small book – to symbolise Nahjul Balagha/Dua Kumail
A picture of his shrine in Najaf
The letter ‘ayn’ for his name
Read this jellybean poem on Imam Ali (as) and have the children colour it in, and then finish off with some jellybeans for them to eat as a wiladat treat! Alternatively, one mum used M&M’s instead:
Have a drawing competition on the theme, e.g. everyone draws a lion like one family did
Create Imam Ali (AS) bags for the less fortunate: “We first explained how Imam Ali always helped people. We then went to the store and she picked items she thought everyone would need on a daily basis – comb, toothbrush, snacks. We came home and she packed everything into ziplock bags and asked the grandparents to come home to help write Hadith from Imam Ali (as) on the hearts which we put in the bags. Inshallah we will be distributing them to the people we came across on the street.”
Or why not follow in his footsteps and take some food with your children to a food bank near you. Imam used to make every effort to feed those who had no food, often giving away the little he and his family had!
One family went on a walk and wrote down all the street names in their area they came across. Then they went home and tried to see how many words related to Imam Ali (as) they could find using just those letters.
Make Father’s Day cards with a hadith inside
Make bookmarks and write Ali on top and decorate them
Here’s a nice craft on the titles of Imam Ali by Teaching Young Muslims
Decorate your home with home-made decor like one mum did
Or decorate with balloons like one mum did!
Decorate cakes with Ali – this is what one community did!
One mum baked donuts! ‘I started off talking to them about the story of when Imam Ali (as) gave his ring to a needy person while he was in ruku. As an activity, we had fun making mini donuts and decorating them! Then, we put a donut on our finger and demonstrated how Imam Ali (as) may have given the ring. We made extra donuts so packed and distributed them to relatives as a Khushali treat!
Another thing we did in preparation for Khushali was make these lion decorations using a gold paper plate and coloured paper. I started off taking to them about Imam Ali’s (as) title of Asadullah and how he was very brave and strong. I explained how when we need help in being brave or strong we should say Ya Ali! I then had them cut around the paper plate to make it look like a lions mane the plate was a bit thick, so it make it slightly difficult to cut, so every time they would cut, they would say Ya Ali! Not only was the process effective, but the final product turned out quite nice for us to hang for Khushali!’
This is a craft one mum and daughter worked on. This is what mum said:
“FZ and I made a luminarium (paper lantern) using waxed paper that we normally use for baking, crayon shavings, oil pastels and sharpies, to celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Believers, Imam Ali as! We used a candle in a glass holder on the inside to ‘light’ it up, and the overall effect was pretty awesome. Luminarium tutorial here.
Over the past week, we had discussed various aspects of Imam Ali’s life and teachings through stories and activities…his miraculous birth, devotion to Rasulullah and Islam, steadfastness in belief, compassion and charity towards those less fortunate, love of children, and his bravery, strength and courage. To culminate our activities, we talked about Sermon 187 from Nahjul Balagha, where Imam Ali as says: ‘Amongst you, I am like a lamp in the darkness. Make your way through Life by my Light…’ (paraphrased)
FZ used sharpies and oil pastels to draw her designs onto the front and back of the luminarium. She wrote ‘Ya Ali’ on the front and the drawing on the back is ‘a beautiful palace in Jannah for the Shia of Ali as’. Insha’Allah we shall be lighting up our luminarium often as a visual reminder to always hold on to the Rope of Allah swt (Qur’an 3:103) through His Chosen Ones.
One mum said: ‘We usually try and create some artwork for Khushali. This time we used metallic spray and glitter to create a sparkle, as per the sermon in Nahjul Balagha.’
One mum made was figurines: ‘The figurines are made out of Stockmar beeswax. We use beeswax for a number of reasons, firstly because of the sensory experience it provides. Beeswax has to be warmed by the hands to make it soft enough to be shaped. The process of warming the beeswax also brings out the lovely smell of the wax, which children and adults alike really enjoy. Finally, the wax comes in a wonderful array of colours making the wax visually pleasing for all. Working with beeswax has many benefits from a child development perspective. It requires commitment and perseverance as beeswax doesn’t easily mold in to the desired form. Modelling with beeswax also develops the fine motor skills and is used in Waldorf style education to prepare the child’s fingers for holding and writing with a pencil. We also mixes colours together which was a great learning experience of secondary colours too.’
This links to a story on Imam Ali’s birth in the Kaaba (slides)
This is a great website filled with info on the Imam
This short document on Imam Ali (as) might be useful
This is a simple rhyme that goes to the tune of Barney’s I Love You song. These posters (Allah loves Imam Ali!_Rhyme) can be used alongside the relevant lines:
Here are some more rhymes:
Props like laminated picture of number “1”, a small cube painted like Kaaba, a toy lion from a dollar store, a ring, and the picture of a sword or a toy sword can be used when singing the rhymes, to help visual learning.
Read ‘Isa Climbs Mt Mushkil’ and watch the corresponding nasheed:
Here’s a reading of it:
A craft to go with this is making a shield with Naade Ali on it:
Here is a link to a YouTube playlist on Imam Ali (as) with Nasheeds in English:
And here’s a movie on Imam Ali (as):
Books on Imam Ali (as)
The Secret Jar – from the Great Prophets and Ahl-al Kisa series (Kisa Kids)
Why was he Named Ali? from the Blessed Names Series (Kisa Kids)
The Name Chronicle (Has a chapter on Imam Ali which includes a timeline of his life. Kisa Kids)
Isa Climbs Mount Mushkil by Twelver Kids
Meet The Masumeen: With Class 786 (Chapter book)
Let’s Get To Know Imam Ali
The Champion of Islam
Imam Ali (as) – Illustrated Short Stories for Little Readers