By: Zeeshan Shah
I blame it on society, I blame it on our need to hoard and our greed to accumulate as many things as we can. Although in our deen it is considered righteous to race towards good, pre-Ramadan I stood back and looked at the bigger picture. What was I hoping to achieve this year? Walk alone towards goodness or have my kids join me as we walk hand in hand towards a better understanding of this blessed month and ultimately gain nearness to Allāh?
My choice was clear. I had a responsibility to raise good, practicing Muslim men and living in a country where they are a minority, I felt I owed it to them to make this soon to be obligation as much a pleasant experience as I could.
Here is what I would suggest to get the max out of the remainder of Ramadan:
At the outset, I prayed to Allāh to make this Ramadan the most spiritually gratifying one I had ever had. It was a real plea to Him to guide me and help me and to check my own intentions really.
One du‘ā’ that ranks at the top of my list, Ramadan or not is: “Our Lord, Give us, from our spouses and our children, comfort of eyes, and make us heads of the God-fearing.”
I see that du‘ā’ work for me every day but for my son to say on the very first night on our way to taraweeh prayers that he wants to be a “preacher” was the ultimate high.
Ramadan this year fell smack dab in the middle of the kids' summer break and it wasn't going to be just my ibadah and me. I was not going to have much time to recite the daily juz that I was aimng for, nor the other voluntary worship. I had to be organized and focused. It was going to take meticulous calculation and time management on my part to try and get the most out of our day.
Have a Goal
My main goal was to draw my nine year old closer to deen and acquaint him with fasting and hopefully have my four year old learn something in the process.
I planned my days so that I could get my own ibadah done perhaps while they were asleep or playing. I decided I would try and do as much as I could and not resent them for what I couldn't.
I looked up activities online to educate the boys as well as make it fun for them. A personal goal of mine was to familiarize myself with the names of Allāh and so I decided to make it a more child friendly experience. We made flash cards with the name in Arabic on one side and the meaning on the other. You'll be surprised how soon they picked it up – My four year old surprised us all the other day by remembering an especially tough one!
Another activity focused on my four year old was bringing his favorite book to life! A great way to teach him gratitude to the Almighty. A few questions like “who made strawberries?” and “who do we thank for making watermelon?” assured me that the desired result was being achieved.Alḥamdulillāh!
In an age of visual entertainment there was no way I could eliminate T.V time and so thanks to Youtube I found several things we could watch together and learn from. The documentary “Qurʾān by Heart” inspired my older son so much that he started taking more interest in Qurʾān lessons and perfecting his recitation.
Another great show to teach our kids about Islamic History is “Omar” the teleseries about how it was revealed to The Prophet highlighting the Caliph Omar and his reign. If you were to come to my house you would often see the two brothers reenact the war scenes. We even made a sword sheath for them to carry around.
Several of my friends and I have decided to host playdates. This really helps in giving the other moms a break to focus on their ibaadah, run errands or even catch up on some much needed sleep!
I sought help from my twenty something cousin working on his Ijaza to help my kids improve their tajweed. A no fail mentorship program, if you will. I caught my son saying to his friend the other day “how much fun he was having”.
Make it Fun
When my elder son decided to fast I thought how much fun it would be to host an iftar for just him and his friends. I remember when my brother and I kept our first fast. We were treated like royalty. We got gifts from family and friends and my grandmother even made me a new outfit to commemorate the occasion. Back in the day it was quite an event, one which has sadly lost its importance.
As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan I plan on focusing on the importance of “Laylatul Qadr” and perhaps hosting a food drive at my place to teach my kids and their friends the importance of charity and giving to those who are less privileged than they are.
This Ramadan was dedicated to teaching my kids and acquainting them with this very important pillar of our deen and I have to admit, it has been all the more enriching because of it.