Alhamdulillah, we have entered the last ten days of Ramadan. Isn’t it amazing that we are privileged to live during the most blessed nights of the entire year? We all have the opportunity. Now we have to decide what to do with it.
Some of you might be planning to play video games or watch TV for the rest of the month, thinking, “I’m just a kid” or “It’s hard enough to give up food all day; I can’t give up video games, too!” But Ramadan is more than just going without food and drink during the day and stuffing yourself during the night. It’s about remembering Allah, doing ibadah, and helping others. And even though you may be a kid, you can still take advantage of the blessings of Ramadan. And what better time to do it than during the last nights of Ramadan?
This is the month the Qur’an was revealed! If you’re not going to read Qur’an now, when will you? Even if it is hard for you to read very well or if you have a low attention span, dedicate a certain part of each day just for Qur’an reading. Set a goal for yourself and see how well you can follow through with it. It’s even more fun when you and your siblings or friends compete with each other to see who can read more Qur’an. And as you read, remember that every single letter you read earns you hundreds of good deeds because of the blessings of Ramadan. It’s also very important to read the translation so that you understand what you are reading. Yahiya Emerick has a great translation of the Qur’an designed just for kids to make it easy for you to understand what you are reciting.
Listen to Islamic Lectures
There are tons of lectures online that are beneficial and entertaining at the same time. Follow a series, watching a few minutes every day. Invite friends over before iftar you can watch the videos together. Some great series are Prophetic Dynasty and the Qur’an Weekly videos. BayyinahTV also has a great channel of videos on lots of awesome topics. But don’t make listening to the lectures a one time thing. Rather than forgetting about everything except the jokes in the video, try to follow at least one thing you learned for the remainder of Ramadan.
Make Lots of Du’a
This is one of the easiest things to do throughout the day. Remember that Allah is always listening to you, especially during Ramadan, so ask Him for whatever you want! Don’t forget to make du’a for the people suffering all around the world. It is also a good idea to memorize some of the du’as our Prophet Muhammad (S) used to say. Fortress of the Muslim is a great book for this purpose and the title is really cool because du’as really are a fortress to protect us.
Increase the Quality of Your Prayers
This Ramadan, instead of rushing through your prayers, try to make your prayers better. Say longer surahs or just try reciting them slower. Pray in a quiet area without any distractions and take a few minutes to say dhikr and make du’as after you are done praying. If you go to the masjid during Taraweeh prayers, don’t spend the whole time hanging out with the kids who are playing outside or in the back of the masjid. Try praying at least a few rak’ahs. If it’s too hard for you to pray more than two rak’ahs at a time, try taking a break after every few rak’ahs. One of the best ways to help you concentrate during the prayer is to read some of what the imam will recite during the day. The other night, I was a little tired when I was praying, but all of a sudden I heard the imam reciting the story of Ibrahim (A) when he was about to slaughter his son Ismail (A) and I started paying full attention to the prayer because I had recently heard the story in a lecture online. This is also a good way to avoid being distracted by the noisy kids running around. I don’t know what kind of distractions you have during Taraweeh, but the last time I went to Taraweeh, there was one little kid who kept running around without a shirt on and another girl who was running between the lines counting the number of people, and then stopping to poke some of us on the way. Some things that happen during Taraweeh are so weird that we could probably make a whole book called “Taraweeh Distractions”!
Ramadan is the month of giving. This is when people are encouraged to give the most charity. Okay, maybe since you’re a kid, you’re not exactly that rich. You’re probably depending on Eid as a time for you to increase your wealth. ;) But there are so many other ways to help others out. You can help out with simple things around the house or by simply being nice to those around you. Remember that the Prophet Muhammad (S) said that even a smile is charity? Everyone has heard these words, but have you ever really thought about what they mean? Could they mean smiling at your brother after he broke your favorite toy? Could it mean smiling at your sister after she wore your favorite hijab? Could it mean smiling at that really annoying kid in the masjid? Hadiths are there for you to follow when it’s harder to follow them. It’s easy to smile and laugh with your friends, but can you smile even when everyone around you isn’t? Another way to help others is to raise money for a cause you feel strongly about. You can start a team with a group of friends and work together to help others this Ramadan with a project like 99 Orphans.
Don’t Be a Grouchy Faster
When fasting, people have a tendency to have a short temper. The excuse, “But I am fasting” always drives me nuts. Okay, I understand you’re fasting, but so is everyone else! Part of fasting is controlling yourself. You’re not supposed to repeatedly get angry or scowl whenever someone tries to talk to you. If everyone just did their part to be nice, then it would be so much easier to be nice to each other, wouldn’t it? And everyone says, “I’ll be nice after my brother starts being nice.” That’s giving up without even trying. And besides, do you really want your brother to get more good deeds than you for being the stronger person, the person who is able to control himself better? Take sibling rivalry to another level. Have a competition to see who can be the best Muslim!
Start a Beneficial Hobby
Lots of kids these days spend so much time playing computer games or video games that they don’t have real hobbies. (Video games are not a hobby, in case you were wondering.) This Ramadan, start a new hobby for yourself with the intention to use your time more wisely. Try sewing, knitting or crocheting. There are tons of tutorials online that can help you get started. Don’t think sewing is solely a feminine activity. Why should girls be the only ones who can sew? Boys have the ability, too. And, if you don’t know the differences between sewing, knitting, and crocheting, now would be a good time to find out! Arts and crafts are also a great way to stay occupied and have a great time. They also have an added benefit by helping you with your Eid gifts. :) Now that there are so many tutorials online for making cool crafts and Muslim-run websites with guides on doing cool Ramadan and Eid crafts, you won’t be alone. My siblings have spent many nights this Ramadan watching craft tutorials they made over the years! If you’re into stamping, take advantage of the new Ramadan and Eid stamps that just came in. This Ramadan, my family started a Ramadan blog where we all write about things we have learned and various Ramadan ideas. It’s never too late to start something new. Your family can start a blog for the last ten days of Ramadan. Blogger makes it really easy to make your own blog even if you don’t have any experience with websites. Other great hobbies are movie-making, photography, or cooking. One of my hobbies while fasting is to look at pictures of yummy food online, get a severe craving for some type of food, and then make it for my next suhoor. Of course most people say, “The point of a hobby is to keep your mind off food, not on food!” But thinking about food makes me feel better for some reason. :) And Ramadan is the only time during the year when I actually want to make food!
Don’t Be Selfish During Iftar Time
One of the reasons I don’t enjoy eating iftar outside is that fasters can sometimes be really selfish. I would never have believed this if I didn’t actually see it with my own eyes, but I have witnessed people in front of me in a twenty-person line getting five pieces of food when there were only twenty pieces total! How is that even fair? One of the most important parts of Ramadan is to think about others. However, the way some people eat iftar is completely contrary to this idea. So remember everyone else who is fasting, too, this Ramadan.
Do Good Deeds Even if You’re Not Fasting
It’s easy to get out of the Ramadan mode when you’re not fasting, but don’t let this stop you. Ramadan is not all just about fasting. You can still take advantage of Ramadan by helping out others more and doing lots of dhikr. Try to concentrate on making the fast easier for those who are fasting. (One good way would be not to be first in line when it’s iftar time!)
Avoid Wasting Away the Night
I know that most people choose to stay up throughout the night since the nights are so short. And since the nights are the most blessed parts of Ramadan, what a great way to take advantage of all the blessings! Instead of playing games or lazily lying about doing nothing, try doing the things above to maximize your benefit from this month. It’s like using two coupons at the same time. One is the Ramadan coupon and the second is the last ten nights coupon. Instead of reducing the price, however, these coupons gain you unlimited rewards from Allah!
Enjoy the rest of your Ramadan!
(Attention, writers! Muslim Kids Matter is a regular feature at Muslim Matters. New articles for kids are posted every other Sunday. You’re welcome to send in your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.)