And just like that, another year has passed, and another Ramadan has dawned on us. Ramadan is one of my favourite times of year, the change in atmosphere is almost palpable. It galvanises Muslims everywhere, and makes us really feel like a community.
If you have young children, I'm sure you've asked yourself how you can create that “atmosphere” for them and really bring Ramadan alive. I've compiled a little checklist of things to make and do with your little Muslims.
Plan your work, and work your plan
Somehow, no matter how much energy I have in Ramadan, my “mummy brain” seems to peak. If you were to ask me at Zohr time, I probably wouldn't be able to tell you what I'd eaten for sehri. So the idea of spontaneously thinking up exciting activities for my kids is laughable. This year I plan to make an advent calendar before Ramadan. Everyday will have a good deed to achieve. If we can help our kids set easy, attainable goals for Ibaadat, it can be a way to help them see the beauty of our wonderful religion.
Some examples would be
Make Dua for someone that you love
Read Surah Ikhlaas three times, it's equivalent in sawaab to reading one Quraan
Do something kind for someone
I think this is something that we could all use. I honestly don't think it's possible to make too much zikr or give too much charity.
Today a reader, tomorrow a leader
I remember when I was little, my mum once went looking for Islamic fiction books for me. The result was 3 books that were almost pamphlets. They might have been a bit feeble, but I loved them anyway! It amazed me that the characters had names that sounded familiar, and that they did normal things that my family did, like reading salaah. It gave me a sense of validation.
I am very grateful that there are now so many books available that have Muslim characters and morals. I have a large collection of them, and I'm not really sure if they're for me or my children. There are also a great number of these books that focus on Ramadan and Eid. They have glossy pages and colourful pictures, that seem to make their tales more exciting. Gone are the days of pamphlet books!
Try to carve out 15 minutes of your day, just to read to your kids. Even those who are old enough to read on their own, can still benefit from being read to. One of our favourite Ramadan traditions is reading a new Hadith before bed every day. There are many Hadith books aimed at younger kids that explain our Prophet's (S.A.W) beautiful words in a way that can easily be understood by children.
Wish for your brother what you wish for yourself
Between Eid gifts, new Eid clothes, and laying the perfect Eid table; it's often hard to avoid getting sucked into a “consumerism vacuum”. But the truth is that, the spirit of Ramadan and Eid is not buying the best of everything to have an instaworthy day. The spirit of Ramadan is thinking about those who are less fortunate.
While children can be incredibly selfish, they can also be a surprisingly kind. As parents, we need to find those seeds of kindness and help them bloom. Thankfully, in Ramadan we have so many wonderful opportunities to help others, here are a few ideas that you can try to implement with your little one:
Prepare and pack iftaar goodies for your local masjid.
Pack hampers of groceries to distribute to the needy.
Pick out a few new or gently used pieces of clothing to donate. Some organisations now host an “Eid shop” where those who are under privileged can pick out an outfit to wear for Eid.
Choose some toys to send to your local orphanage.
Spend some time at an old age home, and take along some baked goods.
Fasting is a shield
Last but definitely not least. We need to introduce the concept of fasting. The most important thing to remember when doing so, is to discuss the virtues and rewards of fasting. Fasting can sometimes be hard, but its rewards are numerous. Encourage your little ones to keep lots of quarter, and half fasts, and maybe even a few full fasts if they are old enough. And don't forget to remind them of all the rewards they will be earning in Jannah for every sacrifice they make. Every pang of hunger, and every wave of thirst. InshaAllah none of them will be in vain.
In these special days, where Duas are so readily accepted, please remember all of us at Mums & Cubs in your Duas.
Ayesha Parak-Makada currently owns a toddler playgroup in the Musgrave area, called Mums & Cubs. Our Ramadan advent calendars will be on sale for R350. For more information please visit our instagram page @mumsandcubs.
Her book “Sticky fingers, a sensory play recipe book” is available in the Al Ansaar bookshop. For more information please contact 0837840725.