Aryan and I had an interesting conversation over lunch the other day.
‘Say Bismillah, Ary.’
‘But Mummy, everyone doesn’t say it.’ [Referring to his preschool friends].
‘That’s ok Aru, we are Muslims. We say Bismillah.’
And that’s how a tuna sandwich became a conversation about faith. As it so often does with children.
Raising a Muslim kid in the Western World has its unique challenges. Some are obvious – some not so much. The topics aren’t always as straightforward as eating a tuna sandwich!
As someone born and raised in a Muslim majority country, where I ‘picked up’ my religion as naturally as my mother tongue, I always worried about the mammoth responsibility that lay on immigrant parents’ shoulders to raise mini Muslims in foreign shores. Now that its my turn, I want to ease into this important duty with excitement and enthusiasm. I am not perfect, far from it, but I love my religion and want to pass that love on to my children.
Aryan will be 4 this June, In Sha Allah. It is the perfect age to gently set the foundations of faith in his young mind. And there’s no better time than Ramadan! Our aim is to make Ramadan a big celebration so that our children can grow up to appreciate the beauty and spiritual significance of this month. Here’s 10 ways to make it extra special!
- Talk About Ramadan
I have been talking to Aryan about Ramadan from when he was too young to understand anything about it. He is grasping the concept of fasting (Daddy, you cannot have juice, you will be fasting!), and eager to see the holy month arrive. Other topics to discuss with our young ones:
Ramadan is the 4th pillar of Islam.
It is the month that the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).
We not only fast during Ramadan. We also focus on prayers, reading the Qur’an, refraining from bad behaviour, and charitable deeds.
There are certain people exempt from praying. Who are they?
Check out this IG guide for more tips on how to talk to your kids about Ramadan.
- Decorate your home
I know there are differing opinions on this, but I am firmly Camp Decorate for Ramadan. Our childhood may have been devoid of Ramadan specific decor, but in a Muslim majority country, the need for it did not exist. The spirit of rising early for suhoor, the smells of iftar greeting us at every street corner, the sight of our kitchen tables laden with special food – all our senses were engaged in experiencing the joys of Ramadan. Here in the UK, we have to create that atmosphere as best as we can. Our home is often the primary place where the spirit of Ramadan exists so why shouldn’t we make it celebratory? Otherwise we risk our kids associating festive lights and merriment with big celebrations like Easter and Christmas, leaving Ramadan and Eid feeling rather underwhelming. We want our kids to be excited about Ramadan and if it means doing crafts, countdowns, and calendars, so be it!
- Get creative with Ramadan Crafts
I love the creativity on the internet when it comes to Ramadan Crafts. Ramadan Calendars are quite popular and it is easy to see why. It builds anticipation and excitement as children countdown to Eid. I am a DIY noob but when I see people building Moons, Masjids, Banners, Buntings, Paper Lanterns, it makes me want to get up and get involved! Check out @ramadancrafts for tons of inspiration.
- Connect with Islam through Activity Books/Sheets.
Activity books are a fantastic way to introduce, intrigue and engage kids to advance their learning through faith-filled fun. Click here to download a free Ramadan Activity Book by @islamforkidsbooks.
If you are in the market to purchase activity books, I highly recommend @mydeenmagazine. They do monthly Islamic magazines for kids aged 3-12, perfect for Ramadan and the rest of the year.
- Make Iftar fun!
I love involving Aryan in the kitchen, and I plan to engage him more and more in Iftar preparations as he grows older. He loves fruits so I am loving this idea of a festive fruit platter from @withaspin_ Who new cookie cutters could be put to SO many uses? Check out this blog post for some really clever ideas.
- Make a Good Deeds Jar
Intheplayroom.co.uk has made a fab list of Good Deeds that our children can get up to throughout the month. My favourite one – ‘Make sure to smile at everyone today! (Smiling is sadaqa)‘. Drive home the charitable aspects of Ramadan – tell your kids how Allah loves charitable actions and rewards even the smallest ones.
- Make most of screen time
We love Omar and Hana on You Tube. The Ramadan episodes are a wonderful way for kids to learn about this month. Zaky is another popular YouTube channel aimed at Muslim kids.
- Read about Ramadan
Story books will always be my favourite way of learning about everything and Ramadan is no different. ‘The Best Ramadan books for kids of all ages‘ by @muslimmummyblog recommends some fantastic books from the baby stage to teenage years.
- Build a dedicated Ramadan Basket/Hamper for your child
I haven’t exactly built a Ramadan Basket but I have seen many wonderful versions on IG and it got the child in me very excited. Items can include prayer mat, prayer clothes, Eid outfits, Ramadan books, crafts and activity sheets – anything that will make the kids eager and engaged.
- Create a Ramadan Signature Scent
Nothing makes or evokes memories like scents. Till today, the smell of attar takes me back to long nights huddling for warmth as we stayed up praying for Laylatul Qadr (back then Ramadan took place over winter), pausing to pray to snack on yummy halwas with my sisters. I am excited to try out these scents @dukhnibakhoor sent my way.
Please remember that we do not need to spend money to create the essence of Ramadan. Nor do we need to overwhelm our already busy lives as parents or distract ourselves from the main goal of this holy month i.e. getting closer to Allah. This blog post is just to share ideas, not to encourage you to splurge or make life more difficult. The best you can do is show up for your children as a spiritually fulfilled and mentally whole mother. Planning ahead certainly helps, keeping the overwhelm at bay so that you can focus on the more important task at hand.
We are still exploring Ramadan as a family and hope we can make traditions that last forever. The foundations we set now will hopefully lead the way for our children to fall in love with Islam. May Allah grant us the means to guide our children and make them the coolness of our eyes. Wishing you and your family a blessed Ramadan!