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HBO Film Follows Muslim Children In Quran Memorization Contest – Huffington Post

HBO Film Follows Muslim Children In Quran Memorization Contest – Huffington Post

By Jack Jenkins
c. 2011 Religion News Service

(RNS) A new documentary follows three Muslim children as they travel to Egypt to compete in a tournament that requires young contestants to recite whole passages of the Quran, Islam’s 600-page holy book, from memory.

Each year during Ramadan — a Muslim holy month when believers fast, pray and read from the Quran — 100 students from more than 70 countries flock to Cairo for the International Holy Quran Competition.

Greg Barker, a former war correspondent and creator of films such as “Ghosts of Rwanda,” captured the contest in his new documentary “Koran by Heart,” which is set to premiere on HBO on August 1, the first night of Ramadan.

Barker’s film tells the story of three 10-year-olds — two boys and one girl — as they travel to the competition.

All three dedicated most of their early years to memorizing every word of the Quran — even though they do not speak or understand Arabic, the language in which the holy book is written.

“(The contest) is a window into the world that most non-Muslims or Westerners don’t see. It … puts a human face on the religion,” Barker said.

Quran recitations are a regular practice throughout the Muslim world, although they are especially auspicious during Ramadan. Muslims believe it to be the month when the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

Much of the film focuses on the relationships between the young contestants and their families, offering a glimpse into the daily life of the broader Muslim world.

“These kids are young, not really aware of the politics surrounding Islam, Barker said, “but we see through their families the larger issues that they’re grappling with.”

Rifdha, for example, is from the Maldives and is one of only 10 girls in the competition. Although both parents want her to be educated, Rifdha’s father insists that she grow up to be a housewife; her mother encourages her to work toward a career.

Nabiollah, from Tajikistan, receives widespread acclaim at home and abroad for his masterful recitation skills, but is virtually illiterate in his native language.

Djamil, from Senegal, is asked to represent all of Africa at the competition, but must travel to Egypt alone without any family or friends to guide him.

Click here to watch the film

Supplication of Excellence to Parents – Du`a’ Birr al-Walidayn

This is a powerful, comprehensive supplication (du`a) for one’s parents, and is one means of being good to them:

Supplication of Courtesy to Parents

The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children

 

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The Prophet’s Love and Kindness for Children

 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was very kind to children and loved them.

 

Children Hands.jpgHe would stroke their heads out of love and would pray for their good in life.

 

Whenever the children came near to him he would pick them up in his arms and fondle them with great love.

 

Sometimes he would bring out his tongue before the child and the child would become cheerful and laugh.

 

If he was lying down, he would make a child sit on the soles of his feet or on his chest.

 

If several children were there, he would make them fall in a row and would himself sit stretching out his arms and would say, “Run up to me, who touches me first, will get a prize. “The children would come running to him. Some would fall on his chest, some would fall on his belly. He would embrace them and kiss them. [Khasail-I-Nabawi]

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When the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) Passed by Children

 

Whenever the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) passed by children, he would salute them, put his hands on their heads and pick up the small ones in his arms.

 

On seeing a mother loving her baby, he would be deeply affected.

 

When discussing mother’s love he would say, “Whomsoever ALLAH favors with children and he loves them as also fulfils his obligations towards them, then he would remain safe from the hell fire.

 

If while returning from a journey, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) met children on the way, he would pick them up affectionately and get them seated before or behind himself on his mount.

 

Children also loved him much. No sooner than they saw him, they would run up to him. He would pick up each one of them, kiss him and give him something like dates or fresh fruit or some other nice thing to eat. If the baby of a woman saying prayer in his leadership started crying he would shorten the prayer in order to relieve the mother from her distraction. [Khasail-e-Nabawi]

 

Source: http://www.readislamicbooks.com/chit-chat.html

Six Steps to Instilling the Attribute of Courage in Muslim Children – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, SeekersGuidance Instructor

Six Steps to Instilling the Attribute of Courage in Muslim Children – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, SeekersGuidance Instructor

by Umm Umar (Shireen Ahmed) 

As parents, there are many attributes we want to teach our children. We want them to be kind, upright, humble, thoughtful, well mannered… the list is endless. When it comes to being courageous, there are a few concrete steps we can take to guide our children in this direction:

1. Build confidence. Teach children to keep trying, even when they initially fail. This scenario often comes up when they are playing, especially when building structures, that often can come crashing down. Helping them to increase their determination and see the fruits of their efforts on various small projects, can help them to become more confident about their own abilities.

 

As a parent, we also need to teach them to realize the full meaning of “la hawla wa la quwatta illah billah”, that they have no power

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or ability without help from Allah Most High. This helps them to achieve the balance between being confident, yet not arrogant. When one realizes they only are able to do what they can do, because Allah Most High has granted them that ability (and not through just their own efforts), they in turn become more grateful to their Creator, for His innumerable blessings upon oneself. This type of realization also helps a child to turn more towards their Creator when they need help. When they want to achieve something, it should be a habitual practice to begin with the name of Allah (basmala) and to supplicate that Allah Most High gives them success (tawfeeq) in their efforts.


Parents should also encourage their children to become more independent as they grow older. Giving them new responsibilities, with tasks they can reasonably fulfill – can teach them that their capabilities become much more vast as they age.
2. Overcome fear. Children should be taught to express their fear instead of being paralyzed by it. Help create situations for them where they can gradually “get over” any unfounded fears they have.

For example, if they don’t want to go upstairs alone one could teach them to say “la hawla wa la quwatta illah billah” or “hasbiAllah wa ni`mah wakeel” and to repeat that as often as they feel fear. My mother used to encourage me to recite Ayat al-Kursi whenever faced with fear. This type of turning to Allah Most High when in a state of need, can help them to complete tasks rather than avoiding them.

3. Face the Unknown. Encourage your children to have bravery in new situations. The most common example of this is when meeting new people, especially adults. They need to be taught to smile, speak loudly, and to shake hands when meeting new people when you are with them. They should not be hiding behind you, or whispering so softly that the person cannot hear them. This takes time, but your coaching in this area will help them in the long term.

4. Do the Right Thing. This is perhaps the most important area where we need children to demonstrate courageousness, confidence, and independence. Muslim children need to be able to stand up for their beliefs, despite any negative repercussions it may have. This means if everyone else is dating at their school, they have the confidence to say, “I’m not into that.”

They need to be able to take a stand in the face of peer disapproval, and this will take place when you are not present. This is where many of our youth fall, as they can put up one face towards their parents, and yet a completely different (and often contradictory) appearance in front of their peers. The topic of how to help children in this area is very vast, so I will just give a few brief pointers here. Children should realize that even though their parents may not see them, Allah Most High knows and their actions are being recorded. They should feel a degree of shame to be found in any sort of disobedience to their Creator, when He has blessed them with innumerable blessings in this world. Encourage them to be careful about who they choose as close friends, as this will in turn affect their own character development. One can also use the example of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم ) as a role model, how he stood up to a whole society to stand up for the truth.Indonesian Kids Laughing.jpg
Another innovative way this idea of standing up for the truth, and doing the right thing can be addressed with our youth is have them listen to some of the Native Deen songs on this subject, “My Faith, My Voice” “I Am Not Afraid to Stand Alone” and other songs.

5. Set a Good Example. Children often watch their parents as examples in how they deal with scenarios where they may feel afraid, or sick, or when they experience great loss. They should be hearing you supplicate to your Creator in times of need. Complaining or saying “if only I had done this (or that) this wouldn’t have happened” would be considered to be blameworthy. Rather accept the decree of Allah Most High, and exemplify patience and courage when you are forced to deal with misfortune. May Allah Most High protect us all from this.

Abu Hurayra said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer although there is good in each. Desire that which will bring you benefit, and seek help from Allah and do not give way to incapacity. If something happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such.’ Rather say, ‘The decree of Allah. He does what He will.’ Otherwise you will open yourself up to the action of Shaytan.” [Muslim]

Anas said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, passed by a woman who was weeping at a grave and said, ‘Fear Allah and show fortitude.’ She said, not recognizing him, ‘Leave me alone. You have not been struck by such an affliction as mine!’ She was told, ‘It is the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.’ She went to the door of the Prophet and, finding no one guarding the door, she said, ‘I did not recognize you.’ He said, ‘The time for fortitude is at the first shock.'” [Agreed upon]

Other good examples we can set before our children are examples from the Seerah. Our Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم ) demonstrated the attribute of bravery many times, and he is our ultimate role model.

Anas ibn Malik (رضي الله عنهم ) said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (صلي الله عليه و سلم ) was the best of the people, and he was the most generous of the people, and the bravest of the people. One night the people of Medinah heard a loud noise and they became overwhelmed with fear. The men went out to see what the noise was, only to find the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم ) riding his unsaddled horse, and coming from the direction of the noise with his sword wrapped around his neck. He said to them, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. I found (my horse) very swift”.

The companions also often exemplified courage, and this can be see especially in the examples of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq or Sayyidna Ali (رضي الله عنهم ).

Other beneficial examples we can set before our children is that of our parents or other older relatives who have stories of how they overcame adversity, such as moving to a new country or faced danger, yet succeeded. This in turn helps the children to have greater respect for their elders, and helps them to have more admiration for them.
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6. Avoid Foolish Bravado. Being brave does not mean we should encourage our children towards risky activities or stunts to prove courageousness. One should not take unnecessary chances or neglect safety in a futile attempt to prove bravery to others. Rather, one needs to balance physical courage with common sense.

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The strong man is not the one who throws people in wrestling. The strong man is the one who has control of himself when he is angry.” [Agreed upon]

May Allah Most High give us success in raising our children in the best way, and may we instill good character in their hearts, ameen.
About Ustadha Shireen Ahmed
“The responsibility of raising righteous children is both one of our greatest challenges and opportunities in life.”
Ustadha Shireen Ahmed (Umm Umar) inspires her students as a living example example of what is possible when one is committed to gaining sacred knowledge.  Teacher, student, activist, mother, wife — Umm Umar shows that it is possible to balance worldly responsibilities with the pursuit of knowledge.
Umm Umar was born and raised in Canada, where she graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. During her university studies, she was actively involved in MSA work at the local and national levels. After graduation, she set out to formally pursue sacred knowledge, studying Arabic at the University of Damascus and Islamic studies at Jamia Abi Nour and taking private classes in Qur’anic recitation, Prophetic traditions,, Islamic Law (Hanafi) and the Prophetic biography.
While living in Jordan, Umm Umar helped establish SunniPath’s online courses. At SeekersGuidance, she is the Course Development Manager, bringing years of and insight to facilitate meaningful Islamic learning online.  After ten years abroad she returned to Toronto, Canada, she resides in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and three children. Between continuing her studies of the sacred sciences and homeschooling her children, Ustadha Shireen is working on her first publication, a translation and commentary on a classical Islamic text on parenting, Simt al-‘Uqyan (Thread of Pure Gold).

Creating Ramadan Traditions

When I reflect on my childhood memories of celebrating the blessed month of Ramadan while growing up in Southern California in the 1980’s, different images flash through my mind…

Ammi playing the Holy Qur’an on the house intercom system at sahoor time. Scrambled eggs and shaami kabaabs frying before the sun came up. Abbu sitting in the upstairs hallway outside his bedroom, reciting from the Book of Allah before he left for office. Coming home tired from school only to be set to work cutting up apples and oranges and bananas for the evening fruit salad, then helping my mother fry egg rolls and grape leaves. The night before Eid prayers the girls excitedly laying out their glass bangles and freshly ironed clothes and trying to sleep without spoiling the drying henna on their hands. The long distance calls from relatives overseas who shouted to be heard, wishing us well and sending us prayers for health and happiness. We crowded around the phone, grabbing it from one another, grinning and yelling back in order to make sure they too heard how much we loved and missed them.

There were annual traditions that I fondly remember as well, including the potluck iftar parties and masjid-sponsored Eid festivals. Who can forget the one auntie who always hosted the Jumat-al-Wida (farewell Friday of Ramadan) iftar in her spacious home? The children could always be found congregating around the cold-coffee urns set up in her backyard, eagerly vying with one another to be the first to taste the whipped cream-filled-dates set out on silver trays. Another auntie-and-uncle couple opened their home every Eid-ul-Fitr for a lavish breakfast buffet which was highly anticipated the moment Eid prayers were completed at the local fairgrounds a few minutes away.

Now that I am living in Northern California in a community made up primarily of converts to Islam, I am rediscovering the power of having traditions which children can look forward to and depend upon year after year. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to benefit from the creativity in my new friends who are eager to create Ramadan traditions that will attract and hold their children (who they fear may be lured by the competing sparkle and brilliance of Christmas festivities they witness in their own non-Muslim family members’ homes).

What touched me most when I sat with my girlfriends in the early days of motherhood as we brainstormed ideas for creating memorable Ramadan traditions was the sincerity and desire to ensure a balance between the material and the spiritual. These thoughtful women were extremely wary of falling prey to Western commercialism where Ramadan might inadvertently become yet another consumer month about gifts and cash and parties in the kids’ eyes; the culture of “gimme gimme gimme” was one everyone avidly wanted to avoid.

With that being said, I wanted to share some of the traditions we have been practicing in our own home with our three boys for the past ten years now. I asked my sons to list some of their favorite memories and traditions surrounding Ramadan, and these are the ones they rattled off without a moment’s hesitation.

 

1.) Moon-sighting

moon_over_san_francisco1Back in the year 2000, four families gathered at a scenic vista point in the Berkeley Hills to try and search for the new moon signifying the beginning of Ramadan. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find that two other Muslim families had also come up with the same idea and were already comfortably settled on the platform with binoculars and thermoses of hot chocolate by their sides. We introduced ourselves and scanned the skies together for the elusive crescent to appear over the majestic San Francisco skyline. As the years went by and word spread over time about this great location, more and more families have joined us. Our last moon-sighting trip had over 70 people (including a news reporter and photographer) gathered together with baked goodies to share and cups of hot chai to pass around. The children run amongst the adults with flashlights and sparklers in hand before being called over to join the jama’ah for group prayer under the stars. The anticipation builds from the moment we sit in our family van, blasting Yusuf Islam’s upbeat “Ramadan Moon” on the entire trip up through the twisting and turning roads in the mountains. Whether we sight the moon that night or not, there is excitement in the air and it is contagious; there’s just something about community that gets your “battery” charged to face a month of fasting together.

2.) Ramadan Calendar

Khadija O’Connell is an extremely talented lady whom many affectionately refer to as “the Muslim Martha Stewart”. Everything she touches seems to blossom simply by her presence. She has brought elegance and sophistication to the most mundane of things, and the pride she puts in her work is obvious. Whether she’s teaching a sewing class to a group of eight-year-old boys or organizing her highly acclaimed “Creativity and the Spiritual Path Conferences”, her attention to detail and aesthetics is of the highest caliber. I happen to know that her personal motto in life is based on the words of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi,“Let the beauty you love be what you do,” and I often find myself reflecting on the hadith, “Verily, Allah is Beautiful and He loves beauty,” whenever I witness anything she has had a hand in. If readers want to see for themselves, they need only visit her website www.barakahlife.com to appreciate what I’m talking about.

Nearly ten years ago, Khadija came up with an idea for her family which other people immediately wanted to replicate in their own homes. Using rich textiles with vibrant colors, she sewed a Ramadan Calendar, very similar to a Christmas advent calendar. She created 30 pockets with an attractive star button stitched onto each one. Felt was cut out into the shape of 30 crescent moons and stored in an organza drawstring pouch. A section of velvet was left at the top of the calendar so that a family could have their children’s names or a “Ramadan Mubarak” message embroidered there for posterity. We hang this gorgeous calendar in our dining nook and at every iftar, after eating their dates, the kids reach into the organza pouch and pull out a felt moon to slip onto the star button of the day. Then they dig into the pocket and pull out their treat for the evening. The treat can be anything from chocolates to stickers to collectible toys to race cars. We also tuck in a paper with one of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)’s Names on it so that by the end of the month the kids can have learned at least a third of Allah’s Most Beautiful Names. Some families opt to put in a simple hadith every evening. The point is to use your own imagination and have fun while giving the kids a means to see how quickly the month is passing by. Many of us initially tried to sew these calendars on our own, but fortunately for everyone else who might be interested in taking on this tradition for their own young ones, Khadija now markets these special creations to great demand on her website.

3.) Decorating the House

It doesn’t matter that Ramadan will be arriving near the end of summer this year; you can be sure that our house will still be strung up with fairy lights (what some refer to as “Christmas lights”), insha’Allah. I bought some darling garden lanterns during the end-of-spring-season sales last year, so now we have those gold and maroon paper lanterns to string up around the living room as well. The boys are more than willing to help their father with the task of illuminating the Mukhtar home; it has become a family project where the mother directs and the men obey…and everyone enjoys the experience immensely.

Another friend decorates her house with “the Ramadan chain of kindness”. Everyone in her family goes out of their way to acknowledge a simple (or significant) deed of kindness they witness any family member performing by recording it on a strip of construction paper. They make a point of not including the name of the do-gooder in order to discourage pride and encourage humility for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). They then curl these strips into rings and connect them to one another. When we were invited to her home for iftar one evening, we noticed this paper chain of links winding its way around the living room; each strip had a comment written on it like “helped change a diaper”, “took out the garbage”, “washed the salad”, “brought mommy water”. They also placed a homemade sign in their public street-facing window which read “So-and-So Family wishes you all a Happy Ramadan!”

4.) Baking Cookies for the Neighbors

It started out as a neighborhood outreach plan, but over the years has become something
much bigger than we ever imagined, alhamdulillah.

Soon after the tragic events of 9/11, we baked some yummy cookies at home, packaged them in plastic boxes with a “FastBreak” candy bar (get the pun?), and delivered them to our neighbors’ mailboxes along with a note explaining Ramadan and our ummah’s wish for world peace and joy in 2001. It has now become a community event with friends gathering at each other’s houses and mosques to package star and crescent shaped cookies (sprinkled with green sugar) in gold boxes with da’awah messages typed on sparkly vellum paper and shimmering organza ribbons to tie everything together. We have managed to work with the same popular local bakery for the past five years now, and the kids get a great kick out of running around the neighborhood delivering the treats. My own sons once reflected how it was the completely opposite experience of trick-or-treating — we’re here to give you a treat, not demand one for ourselves, and no one is out to “scare” or “trick” anyone. It’s a celebration of lightness, not darkness!

5.) Ramadan Food Drive

Our county’s Food Bank has come to really appreciate the month of Ramadan. They tell us their shelves are loaded during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but they have a difficult time keeping up with the needs of the poor during the rest of the ten months of the year. Since Ramadan follows the Islamic lunar calendar, it moves throughout the year and — thanks to the generosity of local Muslims — they can now anticipate full shelves once again in the month of August, insha’Allah. Our Islamic Center has found, however, that if you ask people to donate groceries or bring in necessary items on their own, good intentions often are not followed through upon with solid actions; therefore, we have taken it upon ourselves to facilitate our members’ sincerity by making it easy for them to feed the hungry.

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Our children have a new Ramadan tradition now which requires them to gather at
the Islamic Center to bag basic pantry staples — cereal, pasta, juice, canned fruits and
vegetables — in paper sacks. It takes quite a bit of time and it is hard work, but the
children enjoy it nevertheless. These bags of groceries are then sold at Friday prayers for
$5 each. People purchase the bags in the names of their children or spouses or families
and then these sacks are placed in the Food Bank barrels which are provided by the Food
Bank with their official logo. At the end of the month, a large truck arrives from the Food Bank and the men and children from our community help load the month’s donations. There is often a news crew covering the event as well which makes for some positive media in these times when Muslims so desperately need it.

An easier way to give charity during this sacred month, however, is to have your kids decorate a glass mason jar and label it “Sadaqa Jar”. They put in their own money throughout the month and on Eid morning they donate the contents to the local masjid. I have my kids say their own special, private duas while they give charity so that they can continue to be aware of their complete reliance on Allah’s Generosity…especially when they are in a position of giving to those less fortunate. May they always have the means and the desire to help others, insha’Allah.

6.) Waking Up On Eid Morning

At some point during the night before Eid prayers, my husband and I sneak in the helium tank we rented from the local party supply store a day earlier. While the kids are sleeping, we inflate as many gold and silver balloons as we can and then attach long dangling glittery ribbons to them. We cram as many of these balloons as possible in the children’s bedroom so that, when they wake up for Fajr prayer, they are greeted with a vision of sparkle and magic. We also leave a trail of balloons leading out of their room down the stairs to the pile of gifts stacked near the dining room table. I know that after so many years the kids are on to our routine, but they humor their parents anyway by whooping it up and grabbing the balloons the moment they awaken. Believe me when I tell you that this is a tradition that gives as much to the parents as it does to the children.

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Another friend has me baby-sit for one Ramadan afternoon so that she can go shopping in secret for her children’s Eid baskets. She exerts quite a bit of effort in elaborately decorating large wicker baskets with ribbon and paper. Then she thoughtfully chooses items that she knows her two children will treasure — a set of new oil paints for her artistic son, an embroidery kit for her creative daughter, books by their favorite authors, new hijabs and kufis and socks, high quality prayer beads, delicious chocolates — everything is carefully arranged on a mound of tissue paper. The children wake up on Eid morning and find the baskets of goodies — one pink, one blue — waiting for them at the foot of their beds.

The kids’ reward for fasting the month of Ramadan is obviously with Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), but we parents want to show our pride and pleasure in them as well, and these are such easy ways to do it. The looks of pure joy and delight on the children’s faces makes
the parents’ late night effort well-worth it!

A respected scholar once told us that he knows of people who have held onto their Islam simply because they remember experiencing wonderful, memorable Eids with their families. There really is something magnetic in the pull that Ramadan has on us. We love to telephone each other late at night and excitedly announce, “Ramadan Kareem! Yes, it’s confirmed! So-and-So sighted the moon!” We enjoy discussing our preparations for the upcoming month of fasting with one another. We desire to be part of the community that is persevering through days of hunger and nights of worship together. We feel connected to Muslims everywhere — whether they are students in school, co-workers at the office, or taxi drivers who are taking us to our destinations — through these shared daily experiences of knowing what it means to deprive the body and feed the soul.

Children especially thrive off of the routine and rhythm we offer them. I became aware of this one year when I thought I had misplaced our treasured Ramadan calendar. I reassured my boys that I would look for it later but that we would just have to “make do” for the first iftar without the calendar hanging in our dining nook as in years past; I would still be sure to provide the iftar treat that would otherwise have been discovered in the calendar. They put on cheerful faces and agreeable attitudes, reassuring me that all was well, but as he was going to his room, my eldest betrayed the feelings of his brothers by sighing, “I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t feel like Ramadan for some reason this year.” Their sense of disappointment nagged at me, so I put off my procrastinating and, once they were in bed, went searching and uncovered the calendar at the bottom of my linen cabinet. When I casually called up to them, “By the way, I did find our Ramadan calendar after all!”, I was surprised by the cheers of relief that came from their bedrooms. I don’t think any of us realized how much this tradition meant to our family until we were faced with the threat of losing it.

Now that the boys are getting older, our emphasis with them is more on the spiritual benefits of Ramadan and less on the “Santa Claus is coming to Ramadan” attitude. We encourage one another to focus on our love for our Lord and our desire to be close to Him. This month is still — as always — about being good neighbors and good Muslims, but we hope our behavior isn’t anything “new” in the eyes of our Creator and that we can continue to benefit from any little that we accomplish this month throughout the rest of the year until the next blessed Ramadan arrives…if Allah allows us to live that long, insha’Allah.

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) reward all parents who work so diligently at teaching their children about their responsibilities to Allah and His Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam). May our kids all grow up with a deep and abiding love for their deen and its duties in their hearts. And may Allah bestow His Mercy and Generosity on us all this blessed Ramadan and make it the best ever so far. Aameen. Readers are sincerely requested to please keep the writer of this article in their prayers as well. JazakAllahu khayr.

COPYRIGHT HINA KHAN-MUKHTAR 2010. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Readying the Ruh for Ramadan by Hina Khan- Mukhtar

The Ramadan moon is only a few nights away from being sighted, insha’Allah, and I am in the midst of last-minute preparations. The bulk of my worldly to-do list has been completed and I am finally beginning to feel at ease.

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The children were fascinated this past month to see all of the tasks that were being
undertaken in the name of “preparing for Ramadan”. I finally got around to calling my
trusted carpet cleaning company so that they could take care of the stains that have
accumulated over the past year. A window washing company sent out four employees to
come scrub the windows inside and out, upstairs and down, so that the sunlight could
sparkle through grime-free glass. My husband and I spent an afternoon, paintbrushes and
touch-up paint in hand, inspecting the walls and floorboards for scuff marks and scratches
that magically disappeared with a flick of the wrist.

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The boys gave up a few hours of their carefree summer days to assist me in organizing closets and cupboards and cabinets. The hearts felt lighter as bags of clutter were taken out to the garage and bins for donations were set up. I am pleased to see that the flowers we planted a few weeks ago are now in full bloom outside my family room window. We are currently preparing to deliver cookies to neighbors and friends. Our next step is to assemble the family’s favorite egg rolls for the freezer in anticipation of upcoming iftars.

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When the days of fasting begin, house and garden will no longer be my focus,
insha’Allah. Aside from the necessary meals, the kitchen will take a back seat on my list
of priorities. I hope to immerse myself in prayer and remembrance. I don’t want anything
to distract me from the loftiness of the upcoming month, however, so I am trying to “set myself up for success” now. A scholar once advised that we should treat Ramadan like an “honored guest” and prepare for its arrival with proper planning so that we can benefit from its blessed presence once it is with us.

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It is my sincere wish that when my children grow up to one day run their own
households, insha’Allah, they will see Ramadan as a time not only for cleansing the body,
the soul, and the mind…but for cleansing the long-forgotten recesses of the home as well.
With the world around us in tidy order, the spirit feels better prepared to turn in complete
focus on the worship of our Lord. May He grant us all success in our endeavors to please
Him and allow us to live simple, clean lives that free up our time to do what is most
important — remember Him. Aameen.

Cookie image courtesy of ‘Barakah Life’

COPYRIGHT HINA KHAN-MUKHTAR 2010. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Resources for Seekers:

Why does Allah Bless Some with Children and Others not?
Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Making Ramadan a Time for Young Hearts to Grow
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children
Habib ‘Umar bin Hafiz’s advice on duas to read during pregnancy and labour and for infertility

Raising Children with Deen and Dunya

by Hina Khan-Mukhtar

I still vividly remember the first night I spent by myself in the hospital after delivering my eldest son Shaan. The guests were gone for the day, the hallway lights were dimmed, the nurses were speaking outside my room in muted tones.

“Knock, knock!” came a cheerful voice from the doorway. “Someone’s hungry and wants his mommy!”

The nurse wheeled in the crib that held my newborn, only a few hours old at the time. She cooed over him as I struggled to sit up, then efficiently handed him into my waiting arms, bustling out of the room after giving me a few words of encouragement.

I pulled the blanket away from his cheek and smiled in awe at this fragile, little creature who was being left alone with me for the first time ever. I felt privileged to be trusted with his care, overwhelmed with the weight of responsibility. No one was watching over my shoulder; he was all mine and I could do whatever I wanted.

I felt it was an appropriate time to take care of something that no one had thought of arranging so far — introductions.

“Assalaamu alaikum,” I whispered to the warm bundle nestled against my chest, “I’m your mommy.” I stroked his face and then asked the rhetorical question that every mother has asked since time immemorial. “Now…how am I going to raise you?”

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Muslims Having Christmas Trees

Answered by Sidi Waseem Hussain

Question: Is it permissible for muslims to have a Christmas tree in their house?

Answer: Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah,

The Christmas tree is amongst things that would be a unique distinguishing characteristic of other religions or traditions and therefore it should be avoided.

[Ibn Abidin, Nashr al-Urf; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Nahlawi, Durar al-Mubaha]

And Allah knows best
Waseem Hussain

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Giving & Recieving Christmas Gifts

Answered by Sidi Waseem Hussain

Question: Is it permissible to receive Christmas-presents from one’s non-muslim family members, neighbors co-workers and the like? What about giving them?

Answer: Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah,

There is nothing wrong with accepting such presents, as they are not religious acts in themselves, but social customs. Keeping family ties, being good to one’s neighbors, co-workers and the like is from the general sunna of Islam.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) emphasized the rights of neighbors and those one has any kind of relationship with in numerous hadiths, and these do not distinguish between Muslim and non-Muslims.

Likewise it would be permitted to give presents in December with the intention of strengthening family ties, and promoting the good of Islam.

However, one should try one’s best to do so in a distinct and dignified manner to avoid imitating non-muslim traditions.

Muslim should not import the concept of Christmas-presents when dealing with other Muslims.

[Nahlawi, Durar al-Mubaha; Ibn Nujaym, Ashbah Wa al-Nazair; Mulla khisro, Durar al-Hukkam]

And Allah knows best
Waseem Hussain

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children – Faraz Rabbani – Vimeo

Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children on Vimeo

Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children from Faraz Rabbani on Vimeo.

This is from the SeekersGuidance (www.SeekersGuidance.org) Online Course on Islamic Parenting: Raising Righteous Children.

This important course seeks to provide guidance on one of the most critical topics of the times: raising mentally and spiritually healthy children. This course provides practical advice on how to raise upright children in the spirit of the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah. Based on classical texts on Islamic parenting, the course contextualizes their wisdom in light of modern day circumstances and addresses the most pressing parenting questions, including how to raise children that are spiritual and love Allah and His Messenger, how to protect children from negative influences, how to discipline them, and how to deal with parenting issues specific to living in the West. This course is a must for all concerned Muslim parents.