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)
Video resources to watch before you go:
This movie gives a glimpse into the journey that Bibi Zainab, the 4th Imam and others faced in the aftermath of Kerbala: https://www.shiatv.net/video/d968459b6342c01498b8
Bedtime can be a great time to help children remember the names of the Ahlul Bayt. If done informally, it will Inshallah not be so stressful on the child to try and memorise them and can be learnt in fun ways!
I just tell my daughter that it’s time to go to Ziyarat, and we can do all 14 ziyarats by simply saying Salaam to each one. Sometimes, we hush and try and listen out for their ‘Alaikum Salaams’.
Another thing we did was write out the names on small pieces of card and stick them all with blue tack on one of the slates of the bunk bed on top of her. This way when we said Salaam, she also had the visual cue in front of her. Sometimes we would mix them up and she would then put them back in order!
Rhymes are also great. There is one in Gujrati (pratham ali bija Hassan…) as recommended by a mum, but here is a link to an English one! It’s the second rhyme – do also check out the others!
Idea 15: Make a ‘gift’ pack from Ziyarat together
Last but not least, one of the customs for zawwaar is to buy things from this holy trip for family and friends back home who were not lucky enough to be there!
Why not include your children in this process of choosing the right things for the right person, including their friends. Then once home, make it extra-special by encouraging/helping them to write a little note to go with it, explaining why they are giving those things and the significance behind the items.
Inshallah, it will give it that personal touch, as well as making it very meaningful for both, giver and recipient.
It may also reinforce the importance of giving gifts in Islam, for the Prophet (saw) has said: “A gift brings about affection, reinforces brotherhood, and removes grudges. Give gifts to each other and you will love each other.” (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 77, p. 166, no. 2)
* That concludes this series for now! Would love to know of any other ideas that anyone going to ziyarat this year had, once you get back Inshallah…
* And on the off-chance that anyone is reading this while there, Iltemase Dua!
Idea 13: Equip Them with Child-Friendly Dua Cards!
The duas and ziyarats etc that one recites on this amazing trip are an essential part. Dua Cards especially altered to be accessible for children are made by:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dua-Cards/188622421152012
She’s headed off for ziyarat herself, but save this one for the future Inshallah!
Idea 14: Make a Dua List
One thing that EVERYONE asks a zawwaar is to pray for them, and often many zawwaar make a list of people they want to pray for, or people that have asked them to pray for them, etc.
Why not have your child make their own list? They might surprise you with who they put down! It could be part of their diary/journal, or a separate thing altogether…
Making a will is also something adults do before they go, in case anything happens during the trip. This is something that is highly encouraged in Islam at all times anyway, as death can befall us at any time and any age – something which the recent tragic events in Dar-es-Salaam have reminded us of again starkly 🙁
Perhaps the trip to ziyarat is a good time to introduce the concept of preparing for our inevitable end…
Maybe sit down with the children and make a will with them; again adjust according to their capabilities, from deciding who gets their toys and clothes, to any prayers/fasts that may be pending.
For younger children, maybe make it a fun activity, with the whole rolling up of the will, tying with a ribbon, sealing with candle and all that…as long as the concept of preparation is introduced, it doesn’t need to be morbid!
It may bring on a serious discussion on death however, which is a whole other series in itself i think. Would love to hear from parents who have approached the issue with their children and any tips on how to do this?
Idea 11: Encourage them to make amends
Tying up loose ends, paying any debts, asking for forgiveness and basically trying to clean the slate are things all zawwaar do before they embark on this trip, to try and make the trip as spirituallybeneficial as possible…
What if we encouraged our children to do the same, according to their capabilities? They can say sorry for anything they may have done to their siblings, cousins, friends, etc (perhaps after sitting and reflecting and making a list), return any books or toys or money they may have borrowed, and ensure that any pending things they need to do are completed!
As they grow older, the understanding and level at which they do this will change, but inshallah even at a young age, they can have an awareness of these concepts among others…
– accountability for their actions
– the importance of making amends
– how actions affect how close they can get to Allah
– the importance of returning amanat
– the importance of fulfilling any tasks they have
And finally, it may even hopefully make saying sorry in general that wee bit easier!
Idea 10: Take the Lyrics for their Favourite Marthiyas and Nawhas
As one mum said, she makes sure she packs these in for her children to express themselves in the harams of these Noble Personalities.
Check out http://www.qfatima.com/docs/YaHusayn_Marthiyas.pdffor a whole range. Audio: http://www.qfatima.com/index.cfm?Content=527 –
Voice of Passion have also been very inspirational for the slightly older generation – check their Marthiyas and Nawhas out athttp://englishnawha.com/
Idea 9: Encourage them to eat less meat beforehand and/or fast
Cutting down on meat and fasting for the last 3 days (http://www.myziyarat.ca/Books/ZIYARAT-IRAQ.pdf (page 7)) before the trip is also highly recommended.
If your children are too young, encouraging them to eat less, and perhaps less of the junky food, may be a good way to emphaises this aspect. It will also stress the importance of how what we eat affects our spiritual state – a good reminder for us parents as well!
Idea 8: The Bag of Sweets!
Don’t lose hope with the bag of sweets though! I’m sure many people in the group you’re travelling with will love a pick-me-up 🙂
Also, if your intention is to give it out as Fateha…it’s a great opportunity to explain/reinforce the concept of Fateha being a gift to the Marhumeen with your children!