Over October half-term, the Children’s Islamic Library held a Najaf to Kerbala ‘walk’ for children ages 4 to 10. It was a beautiful few hours and the buzz in the hall was noticeable as children made their way from ‘Najaf’ to different mawkebs and finally arrived at ‘Kerbala’ in a moving procession. Below are the details!
Najaf: To set the children of on their journey towards Kerbala we got the children to visualise Najaf while gazing at a large poster (A1) of the golden dome of Imam Ali. We discussed who Imam was and why we would aspire to be like him. With that in mind, the children were encouraged to think about one good deed they could do regularly in honour of their walk. They left the city of Najaf in their groups taking out Sadaqa (which they were asked to bring with them) for their onward and upward journey.
Each group was assigned a ‘group leader’ (older children who were helpers for the day!), who helped guide them from mawkeb to mawkeb. The group leaders also talked to them about the walk, asking them if they were tired, and pointing out the various posters showing the distance to Kerbala, and psyching them up for their arrival to Imam… all in all, making the children feel like they were truly on the walk.
Flag Making Mawkeb: The children made flags for Imam Hussein using black card and bamboo sticks. With flourescent markers they wrote Ya Husayn on it, and decorated it with different crafty materials. They were encouraged to raise their flags high during their walk to symbolize their love and alliance with our Imam.
Taboot Making Mawkeb: Here the children learn what a taboot was, and how it was a symbol and a representation meant to be an emotional symbol it was. The children then all had a chance to actually make the taboot themselves.
Massage Mawkeb: Here, the children learnt how people beg to give zawwaar a massage to help their weary bodies.They learnt how to give of themselves unconditionally, just like the people in Iraq, who treat their guests with immense hospitality. The children had a lot of fun learning how to give themselves and others, a massage as well as the importance of resting and supporting others, in order to help themselves and others’ progress further. They were taught about pressure points and how to give a good massage, and then were encouraged to give each other a massage. Those that didn’t want to, gave themselves a massage instead!
Marsiya Mawkeb: At this mawkeb, the children took a break from all their ‘walking’ and sat down to remember Imam Husayn (as) through marsiyas. Books were on hand and the mawkeb leader helped them choose familiar marsiyas so that they could all take part.
Date Making Mawkeb: After melting blocks of pitted dates in a microwave, each child was given a small amount of dates and cornflakes to mix with their hands and roll into balls. As they did so, we talked about how dates are mentioned 20 times in the Holy Qur’an, and the different scientific benefits of dates! The children were so quick to volunteer their own thoughts and experiences about eating dates: “They make you strong” “Dates give you energy” “I love dates!” “My dada eats dates everyday” “My mummy and papa eat dates in Ramadhan”.
All the chatting, squeezing, squashing and rolling date balls worked up a good appetite and made for a brilliant sensory experience! We remembered to give thanks to Allah for the food we have and started with ‘Bismillah’. Most of the children were really keen to eat their date balls and all was quiet as they enjoyed the fruits of their hard work. Others immediately said ‘I don’t like dates’ but were brave and had a little taste anyway mashaAllah! Some of the little zawwaar took their date balls home to share with mums and dads.
Click here to download a poster on dates!
Sherbet Making Mawkeb: The zawwar were welcomed and it was explained to them that they would be making sherbet, an energising drink made from milk and rose syrup (for those allergic to milk, oat milk was provided as an alternative). We briefly touched upon the benefits of drinking milk. While the children were mixing their drinks, they were asked to recite surahs on it, and just before drinking their sherbet they were encouraged to say Bismillah and make the intention for Allah to help and give them the energy to complete their walk towards Imam Hussain.
Rest Mawkeb: Here the children were encouraged to take a break and rest their weary legs. They were told how it is an honour for people to provide a resting place for the zawwaar. We had lots of books on Kerbala, Imam Husayn (as), etc for them to peruse as they rested.
Maatam Mawkeb: At this mawkeb, the children recited maatams and remembered Imam Husayn (as) through their azadari. Children took turns to wave a flag as they all recited. Their maatam filled the hall with the remembrance of Aba Abdillah!
First Aid Mawkeb: Here, we treated all the Zawwars with contemporary medicine as well the all important Quranic Medicine. During our research we were AMAZED to find out how many common illnesses could be cured by the different Suras from the H.Quran. There are also Asmaul Husna that can be recited, but we focused on the Suras this time. Download the sheet of illnesses/cures here.
All Zawwars were given some yummy skittles as pain killers which they accepted without hesitation, except the really good ones who said they weren’t allowed by their mummies. Please find the cheat sheet we used. Please visit www.QFatima.com for lots of inspiration and resource.
Kerbala: After all the stations were completed, we gathered the children together and got them ready to raise their flags and walk together as they entered ‘Kerbala’, while listening to a maatam. As they entered, they faced a poster of Kerbala and spent a moment reflecting how it is Allah who gave them the energy and ability to witness this beauty. To Him belongs all praise and thanks and with this in mind, they all went into sajde e shukr.
Before taking their final few steps towards Aba Abdillah, they discussed how when we love someone, we want to be like them. If we love Aba Abdillah, how can we be like him? Can I be the first to say salaam, can I forgive when someone makes a mistake, can I lend a helping hand? The children took a moment to reflect and wrote their own personal pledges (examples were given to them below) to Imam on a little slip with the magic ink of their fingers.
With our pledges in one hand and our flags in the other, we recited a ziyarah and then we completed our walk towards the shrine (the poster) with chants of labbayk ya husayn! Labayk Ya Husayn!
Finally: The children then got a chance to reflect and write down one thing they loved most about doing the Najaf to Kerbala walk!
- To download all the Mawkeb signs, click here.
- To download all the Distance to Kerbala signs, click here.
Check out the video highlights here!:
Having recently come back from doing the walk, I thought it might be useful to share some resources and practical tips that will Inshallah help the trip go smooth and also have the kids benefit as much as possible!
After having recently come back from the Arbaeen walk/Ziyarat, I thought it might be helpful to put a few handy hints together for those who go in the future – both with and without kids!
Things to pack for the walk:
The bare minimum is always advised! Snacks are abound, but here are some things that came in handy:
- Tissues/Wipes – a travel pack
- A small anti bac, cream, essential meds
- V light bathroom slippers – sounds odd, but this saves a lot of hassle and dirt as you have to wear your shoes to the bathrooms at the mawkibs
- Face cloth – will come in handy if you need to have a quick shower at the mawkib
- Your own mohr/turbah – again, saves time and energy looking for some
- Hat/Sunglasses/small suncream – for women visors are great. They do sell them there but it’s probably easier to take one with you rather than spend time looking there.
- Disposable poncho for unexpected showers are handy
- Ipod/phone with downloaded lectures/Quran/Nauhas with earphones to listen to on the walk
- Tasbih counter – to do dhikr
- If you have kids who will not be able to use the Easter toilets, then disposable seat covers might be a good buy. Just pls don’t thrown them down the toilet as the flush systems are not very good and will get clogged up.
- For kids suffering from allergies/asthma, a mask is a good idea.
- High vis jackets for them to wear, or even to pin on the back of their bagpacks is a good way to keep them visible. Alternatively make them wear a bright top. Always have a pre-agreed mawkib for where you will meet in case you get separated if you have older kids.
- For older kids who might want to go ahead on their own, one family brought a walkie talkie set which was ingenious and allowed the parents not to worry too much if they were not in sight!
- A wrist link might be a good idea for younger kids.
- The group you are going with will usually give out lanyards or cards with hotel and contact no details, but it’s also a good idea to make sure they have full ID attached to them also.
- If you like tea, please do take a very light reusable cup! There is a lot of wastage of disposables and you can make a difference by filling your own cup at the mawkibs or during the walk. They will also come in VERY handy at the hotels!
- For fussy eaters, small milk carton and cereal boxes are handy for breakfast.
Things for the haram:
The best investment we made was foldable thin shoes which came in a small bag that you could store away in your purse when entering the haram, rather than having to go put your shoes in the storage.
- For women, these Roll Up Fold Pumps is a suggested buy: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/GYMNASTIC-SHOES-LEATHER-TRAMPOLINE-TRAINING-DANCING-CUSHIONED-PUMPS-IN-3-COLOURS/152503162969?hash=item2381e59859:m:mHbYLBjwMV9_ofA5wzt8JoA
- For men, similar shoes: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/GYMNASTIC-SHOES-LEATHER-TRAMPOLINE-TRAINING-DANCING-CUSHIONED-PUMPS-IN-3-COLOURS/152503162969?hash=item2381e59859:m:mHbYLBjwMV9_ofA5wzt8JoA
- For kids, this is a suggested buy:
For kids, workbooks and journals are great to keep them occupied. You might not have the time to sit and work too much at the haram, but they also come in handy for the hotel for when it’s too busy to go out. Also, if going to the haram, trying going to the higher levels which are big halls and usually have much more space than near the zarih area.
(recommended for 13 and over)
(recommended for 7 to 13)
Watch these video resources before you go:
“So, while I find myself feeling overwhelmed and disconnected during the majalis, I have found the solution to all those issues through the acts of Imam al-Husayn (as). Mothers must, whether at a very minute or grandiose level, sacrifice like our Imam did. Sacrificing our peace of mind, our physical energy, and at times, even sleep for the child’s benefit. While this sacrifice is not limited to any month or day of the year, it is felt especially strong and perhaps, even burdensome, in Muharram. Our sacrifices are not for vain, it is for our young seedlings to take root and grow. With time’s allowance, their souls will bear the fruits of our hard work. The difference is that despite us not being in the time of Karbala, we are in a time even more necessary for sacrifice: the occultation of Imam Mahdi (aj), the Husayn of our time.”
Read the full article here.
Every Muharram we take the opportunity to give ourselves resolutions for the year ahead. This year in the girls’ classes we asked them to pick 3 small things that they knew was good to do, and encouraged them to try and make it a habit by doing it over the next 40 days – from Ashura to Arbaeen.
May Allah accept our mourning for Aba Abdillah, and help us transform it into true knowledge and bettering ourselves, Inshallah.
I loved these ideas on how to continue the learning achieved in the majlis! These books were given out at the end of two majalis – can you guess what the topics were?
That’s right – Keeping Promises and Good Intentions 😉
A little something to help children retain what they have learnt and more importantly, act on it!
Alams have featured a lot these last few months in different majalises, workshops and classes!
Some were done in the classes as an art and craft project, others were made at home as giveaways for those who attended the majlis, for the children to keep at home in their room as a reminder of the noble personality that we commemorate.
Thanks to those that sent in these pics!
Another beautiful idea of something to give our children to help them remember Imam Husayn (as)…
This handkerchief was given out in a children’s majlis.