By Zahra Anjum
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
For many families this year, Ramadan will coincide with summer holidays. This means mothers, especially those of young children, will have their hands full. Fasting the long and hot summer days and engaging the kids at the same time appears to be a tedious task. However, you can also take it as an opportunity to bond with children, nourish positive traits in them, and give an extra dose of tarbiyah (education).
The aura of Ramadan and the conduct of parents as they fast and hasten to do good deeds teaches children great lessons. Nonetheless, we can make our Ramadan more productive by planning and setting goals for ourselves and our children.
Below are five qualities that we can nurture in our kids during this blessed month:
Fasting can sometimes make us cranky and frustrated. But we must not unload this crankiness on our children. Teach them to be kind by being an example of kindness to them.
Spend the month of Ramadan with the motto: ‘I am kind’. On a big chart, brainstorm the importance of being kind with your children and the different ways through which they can be nice to their siblings, relatives, friends, neighbours, and strangers. For example, they can smile and greet the people the meet, help around the house or, if there is hired help, children can lighten their workload by doing a few chores, do a simple baking or cooking activity, and send the prepared food to the needy in your area. Teenage girls can also learn to sew and gift hand sewn clothes to the poor.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) was the most generous of all people, and in Ramadan, he used to become even more generous than the fast-blowing wind. (Bukhari) The simplest and most practical way to teach the art of giving charity is by making a Sadaqah Box. Children can use their creativity to decorate and design it. Discuss the benefits of spending for the sake of Allah and encourage your children to give a part of their allowance for charitable causes.
The more we realize the blessings of Allah, the more grateful we are to Him. Sometimes, when children compare themselves with others, they feel they do not have enough. In Ramadan, you can make a tangible reminder of gratefulness with them in the form a gratefulness tree or chart.
A tree can simply be made by filling an old pot with Styrofoam and sticking broken twigs in it, or by cutting it out from coloured paper and pinning it on a board. Search the web for ideas and let the children innovate! Each day of Ramadan, add one leaf to the tree, write a blessing on it, and talk about it. Older children can also write stories or essays about life without these, for example, a day without the sense of sight, or without water, etc.
With much time at hand and nothing to do, holidays can sometimes turn into a nightmare in the form of siblings who fight continuously. Arguments usually begin when nobody is ready to accept their mistake. Teach children the importance of humbleness, forgiving others, and accepting mistakes in front of Allah and other people. This is what the supplication of Laylatul Qadr teaches us; Allah loves those who forgive and those who are humble enough to ask for forgiveness, and He is the Most Forgiving.
“Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa‘fu ‘anni.
(O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).” (Tirmidhi; reliable)
Memorise this supplication as a family. Print it or write it down. Children can also make bookmarks or wall hangings with this supplication on it.
5. Mindfulness of Allah
Taqwa (fear of Allah) is the fruit of fasting. It means to be mindful of Allah, refrain from sins, and do what pleases Him. During these thirty days, focus on the names of Allah: Al Baseer (the All-Seeing) and As Samee‘ (the All-Hearing). Repeat these names in your daily conversations and remind each other of how we must refrain from sins the same way we refrain from eating and drinking out of fear of Allah. Also, the artsy type can make a craft camera and hang it in a visible place in their rooms with a reminder: Allah is watching me!
As parents, we can only instil in our children the qualities that we ourselves love and practice. It is not the activities and colours that matter, it is the faith and yearning in our heart, the time we are willing to spend with our children, and the supplications we make in the last third of the night that do. May Allah grant us from among our spouses and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous. Ameen!
Zahra Anjum is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© IIPH 2015