In this time of Corona, with our mosques being closed, many of us may have tuned into majlis online. However, the act of doing a majlis in your living room and with all your family members is so beautiful and powerful. It establishes the importance for our children, invites blessings into the home, and shows Allah (swt) that even during these times of hardship when masjids are closed down, we continue to keep the tradition of majlis alive. Many families at times hesitate to do this because they don’t know where to start or what to do. Here is a list of ideas that people have shared which you can do with your children!
The atmosphere (optional): bring in the atmosphere of a majlis by dressing in the appropriate clothes (whether black for wafat or bright for wiladat), decorating the house with balloons/lights for wiladats, spreading a white sheet, wearing ithar perfume, bringing out your alams (if you have), and keeping a small tray of fruit for nazr/niyaz. Get your kids involved in this as much as possible, e.g. have them help you in the kitchen as you cut up fruit (apples, oranges, banana etc) and tell them this is our niyaz for after the majlis in which we serve in the name of our Imam and recite surahs on it.
After everything is set up, call all family to sit down together.
Qur’an: Begin with asking your children to recite the Holy Qur’an even if it’s one of the small surahs. If one of you kids can read, have them read the translation as well.
Hadith-e-Kisa – there are different options depending on the age of your children:
Option a) Recite Hadith-e-Kisa by watching this video or sing/recite it yourself using the lyrics under the video.
Option b): There are several books on Hadith-e-Kisa book on amazon, and since it may be short notice to order, you can download the kindle version and read it by printing or on a screen. Here is one of the books.
Option c): Recite Hadith-e-Kisa in Arabic yourself or have one of the kids recite it. Or read the translation.
Mystery Box: In a small box or a bag, have items related to the topic of today. Have your kids come and take out items from the bag and have them guess what today’s topic is, or if they already know who it is, have them explain how that item is related to him. If you have a younger crowd, explain to them the significance of each item.
Books: Read stories about the holy personality/event that you are marking.
Videos: Show videos on the holy personality/event that you are marking
Hadith: Have you children research and share hadiths on the holy personality/event that you are marking, if they are old enough. Otherwise choose one or two and explain it to them.
Lecture/Speech: Older children can prepare a talk, or a parent can give a small speech. You could also listen to a majlis online.
Other methods: Maybe the children can think of how to creatively share the information they have prepared for the occasion, such as through a puppet show, or an interactive quiz.
Arts and Crafts: Do an art or craft on the holy personality/event that you are marking. It could also be based on the hadith shared above. Or it could be doing some creative writing/drawing based on the lecture just heard.
Munajaat/Nawhas – Have children and family recite a munajaat/nawha on the occasion, whether in English or any other. Or why not ask older children to write a poem/munajaat/nawha of their own and recite that.
End with Ziyarah: Recite ziyarah with children. Younger children can say “Salaam alayka ya Rasoolallah and go down the list of the 14 masoomeen.
Recite Dua Faraj together
Then sit for niyaz and tea/juice. For wiladats, why not bake and decorate a cake for this occasion, then cut it just now while singing Happy Birthday to the holy personality!
* Thank you to Masooma Hydery Kalyan for compiling the original post!
Here are some ideas in which we can mark his important day with children:
Create a Mystery Box:
Possible ideas of items:
Black cloth – we wear black to mourn during sad occasions
The # 7 – explain that he’s the 7th Imam
An Angry Face – Explain how Imam Kazim (as) was the opposite of anger, but was known to be the one who swallowed his anger and was patient/calm.
A map with Iraq circled – explain how he’s buried in Iraq.
Picture of the harem of Imam Kazim (as) – explain how we go to Kadhmayn to do his ziyarat where he’s buried.
Handcuffs/box, bicycle chain or any chain or mini cage – explain how he was put in a prison for most of his life even though he was such a good Muslim and our Imam, but the ones who made bad choices caused him to suffer.
A bridge (from legos etc) – Explain how the Imam (as) was left by the bridge.
Toy bread – Explain how he was given very little food while in prison.
Janemaz or Du’a book: Explain how despite all the difficulties he endured, he never gave up his faith in Allah and in fact thanked Him, and continued to worship Him even in the prison.
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 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