In line with making gatherings meaningful in Ramadan, here’s another idea! Last Ramadan, my 11 year old daughter and I held a joint sehri!
There were 6 girls and their mums… as they came in, they were given a sheet of questions to fill out – the mother sheet was different to the daughter’s one – and they weren’t allowed to look at each others! Here is a copy of the sheets.
They also filled out a little slip of paper each – for the girls, the question was: What’s one thing you find hard to discuss with your mother? and for the mums, the question was: What’s one thing you wish your daughter would talk to you about? No names were placed on these to allow safety for both parties to put down any topic they wanted! Here is a copy of the sheet.
We then put these aside and got to the fun stuff 🙂
First up was an obstacle course where each mother-daughter pair was tied together (literally), as if in a three-legged race. Each pair then had to complete an obstacle course which was timed, and the mother-daughter pair that did it in the quickest time, won! The course included bouncing a ball each 5 times, maneuvering the ball in and out of the cushions, lifting the hula hoop over and under the pair together and then running back to the start!
Next was a game where the mums were one team against the daughters. It involved a lot of skittles on a plate, a spoon, and no hands! Mums and daughters faced each other across the plate with only a spoon in their mouths, and the task was to use the spoon to lift as many skittles off the plate and on to a bowl in 1 minute. The group that got the most skittles at the end, were the winners. I am proud to say that the mums beat the daughters for this one 😉
The final game played was a lego communications exercise. Each person received an envelope full of lego pieces – each mother-daughter pair had an identical pack. They then had to put their backs against each other so they couldn’t see each other. The daughters then had 1 min to make a lego creation with what they had, then they had a few minutes to explain their creation (using words/description only – no visuals!) so that their mums could recreate their creation. The mother-daughter pair with the closest resembling creation won! Lots of lessons on communication were extracted from this – such as how simple words can be misunderstood, how communication needs to be as clear as possible, and how shouting to make yourself understood doesn’t help!
We then moved on to the highlight – foooood 🙂 – and while we ate we opened up the small chits they anonymously filled out right at the beginning, and started discussing the issues that came up – things like puberty, friendships, school, etc. Alhamd a fruitful and varied discussion was had!
Finally, last on the agenda was using the sheets they had filled out right at the beginning to see how well mothers and daughters knew each other! The aim was just to have fun and be lighthearted while we learnt about each other, as opposed to test the pair! Each mother-daughter pair took a turn sitting on the sofa and being the centre of attention. I then looked through their sheets and asked them random questions based on it – i would ask the daughters from the mum’s sheet, e.g. what’s your mum’s worst chore to do around the house? and vice versa, e.g what’s your daughter’s favourite movie? We only did about 3 questions each before moving on to the next pair. Each mother-daughter used their time on the hot spot well, cudding close and some very sweet photos were taken during this time!
And so ended a lovely evening where mums and daughters enjoyed quality time with each other, learning more about each other, as well as getting to know the other mums and daughters in the group too!
And how about these great articles for us parents? From not ‘feeling’ Ramadhan and remembering what worship really means, to suggestions to use our time well, here is a round up of my favourite articles for US!
And this one by – Umm Anissa, Admin of Muslim Kid Genius:
For parents who spend time doing Ramadan crafts with kids and decorate the house. Good job to you for putting in the efforts to make Ramadan kid-friendly and attractive.
For parents who don’t do Ramadan crafts or decorate the house. Good job to you too for sparing time for more Quran, conversations and prayer reflections with kids, which don’t need any photo uploads at all.
For parents who bring children to masjid for teraweeh. Good job for your courage and introducing the masjid to your children.
For parents who don’t go masjid but perform teraweeh at home. Good job for showing your children that teraweeh can also be done at home at your own time, and that reflection of Allah can be done anywhere.
For parents who encourage your children to fast all day. Good job to you for educating your children about the merits of fasting.
For parents whose children can’t fast all day, but only half or quarter days. Good job to you because you know it’s not wajib at their age, and you’ve shown your patience and compassion towards the kids’ growing physical needs.
For parents who continue with their usual kids’ outings, playdates, activities in Ramadan, good job to you for this effort to show that Ramadan does not mean life stops, but carry on as usual.
For parents who slow down in kids’ activities. Good job to you as you understand kids need rest while fasting. You too need a rest.
For parents who cook special food specially for Ramadan. Good job to you as your kids will remember Ramadan as special because of yummy and nutritious iftar. Serving your family earns great rewards from Allah.
For parents who cook the usual daily menu which you normally cook outside Ramadan, good job to you too. You don’t spend too much time in the kitchen and instead, spend more time to dzikir, read Quran and du’a for the family.
For parents who can perform charity and donate to masjid and guide your children to do the same, good job to you for showing that in Ramadan, we can be extra generous to earn His Blessings.
For parents who cannot give much to charity as you’re already struggling to pay your children’s medical bills, basic needs and bills. Good job to you too because your children learn that charity begins at home, for family first and that paying for your children’s basic needs is already a charitable act with great rewards from Allah.
Every family is different, unique and have different needs. Do not compare one family’s Ramadan experiences with another. Do not feel bad if you perceive the other family is “doing more”. What you see on social media is not the same as what Allah sees. Whatever we do, do it with the right intention to please Allah. May Allah ease our affairs, accept the good from us and forgive our sins in this blessed month.
A truly beautiful post on mothers and children and God… read to the end!
“The young mother set her foot on the path of life. “Is this the long way?” she asked.
And the guide said: “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.”
But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years.
So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried, “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this.”
Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, “Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come.”
And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary.
But at all times she said to the children, “A little patience and we are there.”
So the children climbed, and when they reached the top they said, “Mother, we would not have done it without you.”
And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up at the stars and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today, I ‘ ve given them strength.”
And the next day came strange clouds, which darkened the earth, clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said, “Look up. Lift your eyes to the light.”
And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the Mother said, “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”
And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent.
But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide.
And mother said,”I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.”
And the children said, “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.”
And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said, “We cannot see her but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence…”
* Your Mother is always with you…
She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street; she’s the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks; she’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not well.
Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she’s crystallised in every teardrop.
She’s the place you came from, your first home; and she’s the map you follow with every step you take.
She’s your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space… not even death! *
Ramadan is often a time when mothers, especially those with young children, feel at a loss and unable to maximise on the month. Nazmina Dhanji talks about this spiritual vacuum and how to still connect with Allah despite the challenges.
Motherhood is a role much emphasised in Islam, be it the respect due to mothers or the responsibility that comes with it or even just the gravity of the post itself. From a child’s point of view, the mother is their first deity – before they even know their Creator, she is the one who sustains them, clothes them, and ultimately connects them to Allah. It is only fitting therefore that we give just as much importance to a mother’s spirituality, in how to fuel her for such an important job of nurturing little human beings. In order to bring up righteous children, and remain motivated for her role as a mother, it is absolutely essential for her to maintain her spirituality and connection with Allah.
For nine months she ate the best Halal, home-cooked food. She read Qur’an day and night, recited lots of du’as and tasbihs, prayed a full nine months of salaat without breaks in between, remained positive and at peace and wonderment with her Maker that He had put this life inside her. She felt sick and tired but the thought of the rewards and perks in Jannah that lay reserved for a mother kept her going. Then suddenly – a spiritual vaccum! Along with her precious gift came sleepless nights, leaving her half-dead and just about able to pray Fajr, let alone the extra du’as or tasbih. Her Qur’an is reduced to short surahs read on her baby, and her frequenting of mosque is greatly diminished. No more time for Du’a e Kumayl or Du’a e Tawassul – she barely manages the wajib.
Everything has changed and yet her job is to remain on top of it all and ooze out positive energy for the sake of her child and her milk. It is very important to maintain those positive vibes since the emotions of a mother affect the child. The great scholar Ibn Arabi saw a direct correlation between his own relationship with Allah and his relationship with his children, saying: ‘I am kindest to my children when I am closest to Allah’. But how to achieve this closeness when she has the baby blues to contend with on top of her spiritual vacuum?
Allah, has given us great clues when He has bent the rules a little for women and excused them from certain things. Apart from the Wajib, he has made everything else Mustahab and secondary to looking after her children, nor is it necessary for her to earn her livelihood, nor attend Friday or congregational prayers outside of her home. This shows us that we are to derive strength and energy from the wajib acts themselves. Even if the bare minimum is all we can manage, then we must make it count by letting it be our very best. See that wajib salaat as a time-out, take deep breaths, and make the whole experience last, pour our hearts out to Allah in Sajda and gain strength for the next part of the day. As for the extra du’as, remember that they are Mustahab, and they are there to teach us how to ask Allah so that we may articulate our wants ourselves eventually. The best du’a is that which flows from the heart and onto the tongue. That is the very best way to maintain the closeness and dialogue with Allah – to speak to Him directly and ask Him for every little thing – the strength, the energy, the colic to stop, the milk to flow, the baby to sleep, the child to be righteous, etc…
There are also other clues scattered in the various ahadeeth that tell us of a mother’s reward for waking up in the middle of the night being like one who stays awake the whole night in vigil in Jihad, or the number of thawaab accorded for every drop of milk fed, or how our slate is wiped clean when we give birth, etc… All these clues point to the very poignant fact that Allah does not expect us to get closer to Him through the same means we used to pre-motherhood. Mothers are not expected to maintain the same type of spirituality that they achieved previously – sure we can listen to lectures online and have the du’as playing in the car, and recite Qur’an as we teach our children, but more importantly, He has promoted us to the status of motherhood and a different type of spirituality that comes with the territory. He has also given us the tools necessary to maintain that spirituality – our children. They are the new means by which we get closer to Him. Our job now is NOT to seek a way to perform ritual acts or pray in spite of our children, or to side-step them in an effort to reconnect with Allah. Rather we are to involve them and seek a way to Allah through them.
We know that when done with the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah, every little act in their upbringing becomes an act of worship. However, the greatest thing a mother can do to fuel herself to bring up her children on the right path and for the growth of her own soul, is to be connected to Allah through her thoughts in the simple things in her day. Here are a few examples to illustrate this:
-When she feels that intense feeling of love for her child inside her heart, she must connect it back to Allah and think about how much He must love us since He has created us
-When she hears her child calling out for her, or crying to be fed, or looking at her longingly asking for his toy, she melts at the sweetness of his call or the look in his eyes. For her to think at that moment how much Allah in turn must love to hear our voices asking Him for something with sincerity, and for her to then ask of Him in that very moment that she fulfils her child’s need would greatly boost her connection to Allah.
-When she sees her child trying to crawl, sit up unaided, hold a spoon, try to fit a piece of a puzzle, the urge is there to do it for him and intervene in the process. But she knows she must let him do it himself or she will stunt his growth like the man who snips the cocoon to help the butterfly in its struggle, only to stunt it and lead to its destruction. Again she must let all those moments remind her of Allah’s special love and care for us when He does not intervene, allowing us our space to make mistakes and grow, and fuelling us with the patience we will need later on as we mother them in their teens.
-When she experiences the amazing feeling of being needed by a little human being, she must again reflect back to how great Allah’s bounties are on us when He is absolutely needless of us, and we are so needy of Him. That is enough to fill her heart with gratitude to Him.
– When her child disobeys her, throws tantrums, is ungrateful, does the complete opposite of everything she has so lovingly taught him, she should let it be a reminder of how awful it must be for our Creator to have us disobey Him when He has fashioned us with His own hands and loves us seventy times more than we love our own children. He is the Master of the universe and these little creatures with no knowledge whatsoever dare to challenge His authority, wisdom and better judgment. We know it feels horrible to be disobeyed – let’s not do it to our Creator and Maker.
This level of contemplation and connection to Allah is real life-changing spirituality that can come along as a by-product of motherhood. This is where a mother’s wisdom, her insight, and her status come from – only when she uses the gift of motherhood to get closer to Allah.
NOTE: This beautiful short video clip complements the article above perfectly!