By: Maria Zain*
In Ramadan, we’re abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, all for the sake of Allah.
Of course there is more to Ramadan than just that, but that’s the first impression little children get. So Muslims are celebrating the presence of the Holy Month, but not everyone as yet is joining in on the fast.
Little children are running around, little children asking for snacks, little children wanting a cuddle, little children during reading time. Many young families still have little children who won’t be fasting as yet. But just because they aren’t ready to join in on abstaining from food and drink during the day, and enjoying the celebration in that alone, there is no reason why the tiniest members of our households should be side lined from enjoying Ramadan at the same time.
Little Recipes for Little Children
The most basic notion of Ramadan, even for little children, is to abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. And one of the many benefits of fasting is the health one. For those who have yet to start fasting, Ramadan is a good time to instill healthy dietary habits.
It can be cumbersome for fasting mothers to constantly be preparing snack for their little children throughout the long days, but simple recipes that will help children appreciate healthy food will garner their interest in foods of the Qur’an.
Fruits, dates, raisins and honey are a few flavors of the Qur’an and most of them are easy to prepare. Relay the blessings in these snacks and children will become more receptive to the idea of Allah’s blessings and learn good habits during the Holy Month. Dates in particular have a calming effect on their temperament, something that any mother would wholesomely appreciate.
Getting children to help prepare meals for iftar is also a good idea if the meals are simple. At the very least, they’d be able to appreciate the hard work as a run-up to iftar.
Create a Blessings Tree
More on blessings: create a Blessings Tree. Use poster card to create a tree trunk and cut out colorful leaves for your little ones. Ask them about the blessings that they feel they have received and have them draw or write them out on the leaves. Paste them unto the tree and watch tree grow throughout Ramadan.
After a month’s worth of recording blessings and adding them to an otherwise barren tree trunk, let them marvel at how many blessings they receive throughout the month.
Remember to relay Allah’s Mercy and Love upon them. Also, as the days of Ramadan reel by, talk to them about how they can “repay” Allah for all of His Kindness through du’as, through charity and even through good behavior.
Children can come up the most ingenious ideas and it would be nice to keep track of them too. Perhaps this could be a new project all together.
Story Time at the Masjid
If it’s possible, try to get together with other families with similarly-aged children for story time.
This can be done at the Masjid or at different homes on rotation. Take turns to tell stories about Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). There is no time like Ramadan to relay the seerah in awe of Allah’s Messenger’s commitment to Allah and His perfected religion, Islam.
Other stories that would work awesomely for the month would be stories from the Qur’an. The more children hear and know about the Qur’an, even if they are too little to learn how to read, the stronger the roots of Islam are planted in their hearts. It’s always a good idea to start at the youngest age possible and sow the seeds of Iman(faith) when they are still little and pure.
Getting in on Community Work
Bringing the kids to the Masjid frequently and joining in on all possible activities is also a great way to imbue the love of Ramadan in them.
Having them set up prayer rugs, tidy up the compound or set up mats for iftar are some little ways that can be fun and educational for little children.
These activities also make Ramadan “tangible,” those that they can relate to as they grow older.
Listen to the Qur’an
Reading the Qur’an daily is a must, especially for Ramadan, but in addition to that, getting children to listen to the Qur’an helps encourage their love for Allah through planting the Messages of Allah in their sub-conscious.
Play the Qur’an throughout the quiet moments of their day and as they doze off for the night. This will allow them to carry the messages through to the next day. The earlier we build habits of reading and listening to the Qur’an, the longer the effects of the Qur’an will last and they will carry them through to their older years.
The Little Ramadan Giveaway
Ramadan is a good time to giveaway. Go through belongings with your children and decide what can be given away to the poor, especially orphans who may appreciate outgrown clothes and toys.
Letting them pick and choose toys and clothes that they may want to giveaway is a good way to teach charitable acts. While counting all those blessings, we can also relate the blessings of charity as well. The more children are encouraged (not forced) to give, the less inclined they would be to cultivate materialistic values in the future.
Encourage your children to pack up their goods and make a trip to the Masjid or closest orphanage together. Allowing children to participate in the giveaway together, the more they will be appreciative of their clothes and toys they still have.
Start a Sadaqah Jar
Besides the charity giveaway, start a sadaqah jar for the family. Allocate and decorate a jar to keep loose change lying around the house. Encourage your children to put them in the jar and watch the jar accumulate over the weeks. The jar can be donated to the Masjid as and when Ramadan is over and / or when the jar fills to the brim.
A Du’a a Day
Hearing their names in their parents’ du’a would encourage children to du’a for themselves, even if the Ramadan month has passed, as well as for their parents.
Draw-up an `Eid Countdown Chart
Besides Ramadan, get the children excited about `Eid. Start a countdown chart to `Eid and paste it up on a common wall in the house. Tick off every day that passes by so the children can see how Ramadan is progressing. This is a good way to learn the days of the week and learn how to manipulate numbers.
For an added twist, add a date (or a date each) to each day just for the fun of it The children will be able to enjoy a date at the end of each day.
Little children may not be fasting, but they can surely be encouraged to appreciate Ramadan wholesomely. By keeping Ramadan fun and tangible and by teaching them Allah’s Mercy, children will grow up to appreciate the Holy Month as one that is special and exciting, also one that is blessed with the presence of their parents, making Ramadan feel like a very Holy Month, even if they are snacking the whole day. (T/Imt/R04)
This article published at onislam.net
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)