By Aneerah Ali, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Asalaam u alaikum
As Ramadan approaches, I feel such a wonderful thrill that, Inshallah, I will get another opportunity to devote an entire month to ibadah. I will have the chance to implore my Lord for His mercy and His forgiveness. I will be able to make attempts to become even more closer to him. And I want to make sure that my family gets the most out of this month, because as we should all be aware that tomorrow is not promised to any of us, and this might be our last Ramadan.
I would like to take a few minutes to share with you a specific issue, which I believe is often forgotten during the hustle and bustle of Ramadan. Most of us spend our time involved in making arrangements so that our families can be as comfortable as possible during the long fasting days. Many of us busy ourselves with iftar parties. Some of us also become involved with group halaqas, taraweeh prayers, and personal â€˜ibadah. However there is something else which we need to pay attention to so that we can reap even more of the benefits Ramadan has to offer.
I would like to stress upon the importance of involving our children in the spirit of Ramadan so that they can ingrain in themselves the glory of this most important month for Muslims.
Alhamdulillah, most of us are extremely fortunate and blessed. I often ponder in amazement upon the mercy that Allah (swt) has bestowed on me. I am sure that we are among the top ten percent of the worldâ€™s population. Just one evening of the nightly news makes that clear. The majority of the worldâ€™s population is struggling, suffering, going through hardship or being victimized in one way or another. There are children who are yearning for just a bite to eat. Alhamdulillah, our children are so fortunate that they have all the facilities available to them and all the luxuries we can provide, by the grace of Allah.
We share our childrenâ€™s joy as we see them engross themselves in the various entertainment that todayâ€™s technology has to offer. We encourage them in their athletic ambitions and urge them to excel in Islamic knowledge and school academics. And Alhamdulillah that is very well and good. However how much do we emphasize on making them understand that they have a responsibility to be thankful for their good fortune and to aid those who are desolate. We need to make certain that they do not take all they have for granted and that they live with humility.
What better time to teach our children than in the glorious month of Ramadan. After all it is the spirit of Ramadan which brings us towards the realization that all we have is due to the will of Allah(swt) and that we will be questioned even more stringently because of it.
Therefore, I would like to press upon the necessity of taking advantage of this best of all months, to instill the true spirit of Ramadan into our children. There are numerous ways that you can do this. Depending upon the age of your children, first explain to them why Ramadan is so important. Emphasize on the virtues of iman and patience. Share with them the conditions of other people especially children, around the world. It would also be a good idea to show them a documentary about how many children are impoverished and destitute. Then engage them in a discussion in which they could share their thoughts on how they feel about the news or film you shared with them. You can then have them think of ways that they can help the people they learned about. Have them come up with a project that they can implement to raise money for a specific area or organization. Some examples can be:
— to organize a pop can and bottles collection, if you live in a state where you can get a refund for the pop bottles and cans;
–organize a bake sale or refreshment stand at taraweeh on the weekends;
–Buy candy bars at whole sale price and then sell them at iftar dinners or at taraweeh time;
–Create â€˜Eid greeting cards and sell them;
–Organize a non-perishable can food drive or clothing, coats, and blankets collection;
–Contact your local soup kitchen and plan for an â€˜Eid soup kitchen event.
Furthermore, if your children are over the age of ten you should also start involving them in different forms of ibadaah.
Encouraging them to fast is a good start, however you have to make sure they comprehend that Ramadan is more than just refraining from eating or drinking. Some the things that you can do are:
–Once your family arrives home from school and work, you should pray together
–Prepare iftar together and have iftar together as a family
–you can assign days to each member of the family on which they should give some type of mini-lecture on the seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (s) or explain the tafseer of a verse in the Quran.
–Another activity you can plan is to have your child invite their friends and classmates of the same gender to an iftar.
Inform the children beforehand to prepare a hadith to share with everyone at the iftar. Have some of the children give a speech on an Islamic topic. Make sure to include everyone, especially the shy ones.
–You should try your best to attend taraweeh prayer together, and encourage them to read atleast eight rakats. The best way to teach is by setting an example, so if you were not a regular prayer before, this is the best time to make a firm intention to start.
Furthermore, children really do learn from their parents, how often is that we as adults remember what our parents used to do and try to emulate them.
Ramadan and Eid are times for our children to enjoy and we should make it as festive as possible for them, especially since we live in a country where Christmas and Halloween are celebrated in such an extravagant manner, and we want them to love their own holidays.
However, we should also make sure that we are teaching them the purpose and illuminate in them the true spirit of Ramadan.