Inside: Before you decorate and craft with your kids for Ramadan, please read this. Are we teaching our children the opposite of what our Deen is?
In the past 14 years of motherhood, I have noticed that as my children grow older, I grow as a mother too. My bestie Shazia once said :
Motherhood is like real life gaming… every stage is harder than the last.
Oh, how I agree!
In the past few years, I have shared lots of blogposts about Ramadan here on blog. I have been a writer for 18 years – much longer than I have been mother, so you can say this blog has become sort of my journey.
I have written everything from activities to do with your babies and toddlers in Ramadan to how to prepare for Ramadan stress free to training your children to fast to manage the little children’s bedtime to even training your tweens and teens for fasting like an adult.
I don’t believe in decorating for Ramadan – that is not the culture I grew up with. But since I am a blogger and at that time I was working with the Multicultural Kids Blogs and Kid Blogger Network, I felt, I should put out some craft and decoration posts on my site because, other cultures do so many things when their festivals come around, and Ramadan time, nobody knew it was coming.
The last two years, I have been creating Ramadan themed educational activities. Basically they were math and numeracy activities around the theme of dates, lanterns and Muslim symbols. The purpose was that teachers who were looking to give a Ramadan theme to their classes can find these activities useful. Many non Muslims use these activities with their families in “Ramadan season”.
We love books, and seeing how many we had collected on just Ramadan alone, I also made a recommendation list for people looking for Ramadan books.
But then soon, I started noticing the trends on social media and saw that somewhere along the lines, the meaning behind Ramadan was getting blurred.
It was all fun for us the bloggers to fill Pinterest and Instagram with cute Ramadan crafts. At one time, we hardly ever saw people doing anything for Ramadan, but now months before Ramadan, our social media starts filling up with ideas. That awareness was necessary. I am sure you feel great about it too.
But along with that, so did the pressure on mothers to try those crafts and decor.
The meaning behind Ramadan…
Ramadan means fasting, praying and living our life according to our Islamic teachings at least for one month, so we can learn how to live that life the rest of the year; and hopefully InshaAllah, the rest of our lives.
It is about reading the Quran and acting on it. It is about giving charity in the way of our Lord. It is about fighting our Nafs and temptations. It is about modest living. We fast in Ramadan because God commanded us to Fast.
To most people it looks like Muslims fast and then they feast… or as a child once asked me ‘ do we stay hungry to know what it is like to be poor..?‘ :0
Last year, my daughter’s teacher told me that children look forward to the crafts and decorating, more than the prayers, nowadays. I didn’t think much of it then, but now it is quite evident!
Umm… yeah. We may be emphasizing on the wrong things.
We don’t have to decorate for Ramadan.
I understand that it is easy for those of us who live in Muslim communities to refocus and remember what Ramadan is about. But young mothers – who are migrants or expats, living in non-Muslim countries, feel the pressure to make Ramadan look like (if not more attractive than) other religions.
Most of my readers – just like me, come from South Asian countries, and have already lived in a non-Muslim environment. They have been brought up co-existing with other cultures. We grew up Muslim without the need to be like “them”. The problem was not migrating or living away from family, that was making them want to focus more on the culture and tradition.
The real problem, lay in the fact that wherever we looked – on social media, Pinterest, google, your local mart, or your neighbor or sister-in-law on Facebook, people were beautifying things. It was becoming “important” that mothers keep themselves up-to-date and competitive.
We all want to be good mothers who can keep a good home, show that we have talents, we want to show off our crafts. We want to spend quality time with our children and give them the best Ramadan/Eid, even while being away from our home. There is nothing wrong with that.
But, these social media channels, with all that eye candy and pretty homes of people, are making mothers feel that they SHOULD do more.
‘We COULD do so much more… only if we knew!’
So mothers try harder to build new traditions for their families. We may have not grown up with banners or lanterns or advent calendars – with 30 days of activities and gifts in our childhood, but we do it now because :
- To show non-muslim neighbours that it is Ramadan.
- To give our children a joyful Ramadan
- To teach our children about Ramadan
- We do it for ourselves and our families and no one else.
I am not a perfect mom. Nor am I a perfect Muslimah. But I strive everyday to become at least 1% better than yesterday. I am sure you agree that self reflection, remembering our intentions and mindfulness is necessary. We need to remember who we really serve.
Dear Mom, I am writing this post today to tell you that our children will not learn about Ramadan through the crafting and decorating. It is not the social and cultural stuff that teaches children about their Deen.
They will watch what you’re DOING and learn. Whatever we focus on, will become the FOCUS moving forward. So, show them your fasting, praying, and Ibadah more than the “fluff”.
Our non-Muslim neighbors will not be inspired by the decoration, to learn about Islam. It is the simplicity of our religion that will be the Da’wah to Deen. You can ask any convert to Islam what made them come to Islam. 9/10 it was someone’s Islamic manners.
Dear mother, you already have so much to do to prepare for Ramadan. If those decorations and crafts don’t serve a purpose, you don’t have to do it.
Our children don’t expect us to craft for Ramadan.
I recently posted a tweet on my social media channels.
I asked my kids if they would mind me not crafting or decorating. We were just jesting around. Nothing serious.. . But their answer was what made me realize that our children may be watching us do all these things with them, but they know the Truth.
Children are born on the Fitrah of Islam so they expect us to to do the right thing. But our persistence to not focus on what matters, may eventually change their thinking. What we EMPHASIZE will become the norm.
Can you see how scary that is?
I had many mothers message me after that post. They shared their stories of how their most beautiful memories of Ramadan were about the prayers, Iftaars and reading Quran as a family. This is true for me too. The Taraweeh prayers – even just watching it on TV (because we were a big family and couldn’t go to mosques all the time), was what made me fall in love with praying Salah.
My little boy learnt to give the Iqamah watching the Salah on TV every Iftaar. I remember as a child how sitting and reading the translation of the Quran during the Taraweeh on TV, made me complete reading the whole Quran translation one Ramadan. We weren’t even in Saudi at that time.
Many mothers with older children told me, how after all these years of crafting and decorating their homes for Ramadan, their children told them it was all for THEM they did it. They preferred the Ramadan vibe of praying and feasting with their families more. The crafts were just another ‘thing’ mom made them do!
It is time to think : are we paving way for the Shaytaan to lead as away from our religion?
Years ago, when my son was 7 years old, we were studying the story of Nooh (A.S).
Nooh (A.S) was sent to warn his people against Polytheism. My son asked me a simple question that has forever become etched in my mind.
” If Adam (A.S) was a good man, why did he not teach his children to not worship idols?”
Have you ever wondered this?
We have all read the story of Nooh (A.S) – about the Ark that he built, and the animals he brought on it, about the handful of people who believed in him and the majority who laughed at him. But why do they not teach that “Mankind was one Ummah (nation) upon Tawheed, the pure worship of Allah alone. Then Shirk gradually overcame them such that Allah had to sent Prophets to warn them”. How did that Shirk enter into their lives?
Ibn Abbas said: Between Adam (AS) and Nooh (AS) were ten generations. All of them were upon the Shareeah (Law) of the truth, then they differed. So Allah sent Prophets as bringer of good news and as warners.” (At Tabaree in his Tafseer)
The truth is that, as we grow older, in the name of love, we do so many things.
But we often forget that the Shaytaan is eager to misguide mankind and to plot against them. He comes from the angle of exploiting man’s emotions and lures them in doing acts that are apparently good.
At the time of Nooh (A.S), there were five wise men in his nation that the people respected. When these men died, people placed idols of them to remind themselves to be good. Slowly, generations passed before the purpose of these idols was forgotten and people started worshipping them instead.
Shaytaan does not only observe the present generation, and seek to only deceive only them; but he also wishes to misguide and deceive future generations. When he can’t plunge the present generation in Shirk (Polytheism), he eagerly waits for the next generation’s arrival.
Shirk means ascribing a partner to Allah. It is of three types: Ascribing a partner to Allah in Lordship (Ruboobiyyah), worship (Uluuhiyyah) or in His names and attributes (Asmaa’ Wa Sifaat).
Every child is born on the Fitrah of Islam.
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said that his Lord said:
“I created all My Servants upon the true Religion (upon Tawheed, free from Shirk). Then the devils came to them and led them astray from their true Religion. They made unlawful to people that which I had made lawful for them, and they commanded them to associate in worship with Me, that for which I had sent down no authority.” (Narrated by Muslim)
And Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Every child is born upon the Fitrah (i.e., Islam), but his parents make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian. It is like the way an animal gives birth to natural offspring. Have you noticed any born mutilated before you mutilate them.”
In Surah Luqman, Luqman – the Wise says to his son:
‘O my Son! If it be (anything) equal to the weight of grain of mustard seed, and though it be in a rock or in heaven or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Verily, Allah is Subtle (in bringing out that grain), Well Aware (of it’s place).
This Ayah is followed by:
” O my Son! Aqim is Salaah (perform As Salaah), enjoin (people) for Al Ma’ruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that is good), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e., disbelief in the Oneness of Allah, polytheism of all kinds and all that is evil and bad), and bear witness with patience whatever befall you. Indeed (all) that is of matters (requiring) determination.”
(Surah Luqman (31) Ayah 13-16)
If you have heard the Khutbah on any Friday or Eid, or may be a lecture by any notable Muslim Scholar, you will hear them say the Khutbaah Hajaat. This is the exact words that our Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said whenever he began any of his lectures. I am copying the translation below:
The Khutbaat Al Hajaah
“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islaam.” (Aal Imraan 3: 102)
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Aadam), and from him (Aadam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” (An-Nisaa’ (4):1)
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger (sallaluhu alyhi wassalam) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise).” [Al-Ahzaab (33): 70-71]
“As for what follows:
Verily the most truthful speech is the Word of Allaah and the best guidance of Muhammad [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him], and the worst of affairs are the new- invented matters. Every newly – invented matter is an innovation, every innovation is a going astray and every going astray is in the Fire.”
This is the famous Khutbaat Al- Hajaah which the prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] would recite whenever he was going to deliver a sermon, make a speech. For authentication and further details see ‘Khutbaat Al -Hajaah‘ by Shaykh Muhammad Naasirdeen Al-Albaanee (Al-Maktab Al Islaamee, Damascus, 1980)
Every newly – invented matter is an innovation, every innovation is a going astray and every going astray is in the Fire.
Dear sisters, my purpose for writing this blogpost today is because I just cannot get it out of my mind: Are we unknowingly starting an innovation?
We are crafting and decorating with our children. We do it with a very pure intention. We only want our children to love Islam. We want to teach them about our culture and traditions, but are we in doing so, missing out what is more important – the real meaning of Ramadan?
Are we in crafting and decorating our homes, somehow paving the way for the Shaytaan to lead our children astray?
Our children have been entrusted to us by God. They are in our Amanah. We are to treat them right, protect them and teach them how to stay on the right part. We impart our Islamic beliefs to our children. What face you show of your religion, your children will remember that.
I am not talking about crafting in general, or teaching about Islam in a creative manner. This is SOLELY about crafting and decorating in Ramadan as a tradition.
Do we really need to impart the cultural and social traditions SO MUCH that they become equal to the spiritual ones?
At an age when your little children are giving you their full attention in learning how adults live, should we not be showing them the REAL face of religion?
Ramadan is already perfect. We don’t need to go out of our way to make it perfect. At least not for the kids.
That said, I want to also remind you that Naseeha and the act of giving advice is a part of Islam.
” Tamim Ad-Dari narrated: Allah’s Messenger (Sallalhu Alyhi Wassalam) said three times:
The religion is Naseeha (Sincere advice).
The People asked “to whom?” The prophet replied:
“To Allah and to His Book and to the Messenger and to the leaders of the Muslims and the common folk (all the Muslims).”
I am not a scholar, but I am a blogger with a good following. Every day 100s of people download my free and paid resources. I am writing this because this needs to be said. I offer so much advice on my blog, through my emails and on social media. Advice is always TOWARDS something. All my advice is for you to become a better Muslim than yesterday.
“Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked (Your) anger or of those who are astray. ” (Surah Fatiha 6-7)
[This blog post is part of a series. Please read the next post in the series: How to create Meaningful Memories with your children in Ramadan“]