We are reminded all the time that Ramadan is a month like no other… and therefore, should not be treated like a normal month. It’s hours, minutes and seconds are precious… and yet, with Ramadan traditionally comes iftar invites, sehri gatherings, sports events and the like. And with that, potentially, the usual chit chat, time-passing and other things that are often not so fruitful.
So how can we marry the two? I have put together a list of ways we can change this gatherings into ibadah, Inshallah, if we do it right! Some are the usual ones, and hopefully some may be some new ideas for you 🙂
- Clarify your niyyah
It is highly recommend to feed others during this month, and so inviting people over for Iftar is a great way to fulfil this. But whether you are inviting others, or going somewhere yourself, ensuring that your intention is to do it because it is an act that pleases Allah will hopefully bring blessings into your evening. Even if you go to play sports, clarifying your intention that you are doing it to keep your body healthy during this month, so that you can serve Allah in other ways, will allow you to transform that sport into worship.
- Don’t overdo it
Now that your intention is sorted, it is important to remember that balance is important. Moderation is the way in Islam, and this is the same. There is no need to attend every event that is going on, or accept every invite. It is OK to be choosy and attend a select few which you think will be beneficial for you
- Have a talk
Last night I attended a wonderful family gathering where we got together to celebrate the birthday of Imam Hasan (as), as well as enjoy some quality time together with cousins. The highlight of the evening was a short talk by a cousin, which was simple, practical and very effective. Adding meaning to a gathering by a short talk is a wonderful way to bless the occasion!
- Share goals for the month
One lovely thing to do – especially closer to the beginning of the Holy month – is to identify and share at least one goal for yourself for Ramadan. We did this in a friend’s group one year, and found that hearing other’s goals not only inspired us but helped us clarify our own, and motivated us to see it through! To top it all off, the hostess gifted us a little notebook for penning down these goals and other reflections during the month, and had blessed it with a personalised message for each of us!
- Share a hadith each
If you feel a talk is too formal, or perhaps no one attending can give a talk, then another great way to get everyone learning as well is to ask all coming to bring a hadith to share. When we did this at a gathering of friends recently, we found that the hadith that everyone chose to bring really inspiring and led to some great discussions!
- Share any other info – a favourite verse, a favourite line of a dua, a new Quranic dua you want to learn, one thing they have learnt so far, etc!
In the same vein, why not branch out and give guests a little fun homework! So they can bring a favourite verse that they like, or their favourite line of dua, a new Quranic dua they want to learn to recite in their Qunoots, or even one thing they have learnt so far in the Holy month.
Somebody hosted a themed iftar last year – the theme was ‘His Love is in the Air’ 🙂 All the friends were actually asked to do all four of the suggestions above! Furthermore, they were asked to present it nicely, but were not told why. When everyone had eaten, they began sharing their four things and showing what they had put together. Once each person shared what they had chosen and why it was meaningful to them (which was beautiful in itself!), they picked a name out of a hat and in line with the verse, “You will not attain piety until you spend of what you love; and whatever thing you spend, Allah knows of it.” (3:92), they then were asked to gift their presentation of their favourite verse/dua etc, to that person whom they picked.
Then in line with Allah’s promise of giving us more when we give something, they each got a little something as a gift. The gifts were little things to do with the kitchen and home, such as a cake tin, worktop saver, etc, but each item had a small dua to go with it! So for example, with a tray, the message read: “A tray can hold so many things and requires a balancing act to carry! This Ramadan, may you put all of your prayers and problems on Allah’s tray and leave the balancing to Him!” and so on…
Alhamd it was a lovely evening filled with the remembrance of Allah in the most beautiful, personal way.
P.S. Here is the poster I got! It was so cleverly done, with pictures to symbolise each of the four things, and the text behind.
- Discuss a good book
Last year we started a book club, and held our first sehri during the month of Ramadan. The book was secular, but had lots of links to Islam and as we all shared our thoughts and relevant hadith on the topic, it felt like a beautiful session with God at it’s center. Why not choose a book a month in advance, and set a date to discuss it during a gathering?
(P.S. This wasn’t the book we read for Ramadan, this came later… but you get the gist ;))
- Hold an event for a greater cause
There is a group in our community who host a beautiful iftar every Ramadan, and it’s ultimate goal is to raise money for charity. We pay tickets to the event, and there are raffles sold with lots of people donating their services as prizes; lots of money is raised, and an evening of community building and fun is had in the process!
- Top it all off with Sadaqah!
And lastly, a lovely way to top it all off is to encourage giving when people attend a gathering. For younger children, inviting them to bring in food to donate to a food bank, or new gifts to give to refugees or the sick, is a lovely way to incorporate charity into an event. For adults, having a sadaqah box present on the table alongside the food, and inviting people to donate to a cause is also a lovely idea.
Have you had any meaningful gatherings during Ramadan? Please do share!
“The relationship between parents and their children is one that cannot be compared to anything else in the world. In the Holy Quran, Allah (swt) prescribes the following: “And your Lord has decreed that you do not worship except Him, and to your parents, [show] good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age while with you, say not to them [so much as], ‘uff,‘ and do not repel them, and speak to them a noble word.” [17:23]. The Holy Quran exalts the status of parents, and hadiths do too; here are some great ones for everyone to take in, with an insight on how the child plays an important role in the relationship between them.”
It’s the birthday of Imam Ali (pbuh)!
Below is a compilation of some ideas by amazing mums from around the world, on how you can mark it with your children/classes:
- Have younger children research and present one hadith by Imam Ali (as)
- Older children can do a short skit/play on his birth/life
- Have a gameshow with questions on Imam Ali (as)
- Have a poem writing competition with the subject being Imam Ali (as)
- Make Father’s Day cards with a hadith inside
- Make bookmarks and write Ali on top and decorate them
- Try this craft: https://www.buzzideazz.com/craft-on-imam-ali-as/
- This Nahjul Balagha Mini-Book by Towards Jannah is great to do
- Read ‘The Secret Jar’ (By Kisa Kids) and then have a honey tasting session
- Read this jellybean poem on Imam Ali (as) and have the children colour it in, and then finish off with some jellybeans for them to eat as a wiladat treat! Alternatively, one mum used M&M’s instead:
- Create Imam Ali (AS) bags for the less fortunate: “We first explained how Imam Ali always helped people. We then went to the store and she picked items she thought everyone would need on a daily basis – comb, toothbrush, snacks. We came home and she packed everything into ziplock bags and asked the grandparents to come home to help write Hadith from Imam Ali (as) on the hearts which we put in the bags. Inshallah we will be distributing them to the people we came across on the street.”
- Or why not follow in his footsteps and take some food with your children to a food bank near you. Imam used to make every effort to feed those who had no food, often giving away the little he and his family had!
- This is a simple rhyme that goes to the tune of Barney’s I Love You song. These posters (Allah loves Imam Ali!_Rhyme) can be used alongside the relevant lines:
- Here are some more rhymes:
Props like laminated picture of number “1”, a small cube painted like Kaaba, a toy lion from a dollar store, a ring, and the picture of a sword or a toy sword can be used when singing the rhymes, to help visual learning.
- Mystery box: Usually used during circle time, you (or ask a child to) pull out items one by one that related to the theme or special person. As you take them out you explain the meaning or significance, and help deepen and broaden the children’s understanding of the theme or special person by attaching a visual and/tangible object to represent the different attributes of said theme/person. To make it more exciting, even with very young kids (2-5), you can put all items back in box and at the end of your session you can ask them to remember what items were in box. It’s a good way of seeing how much they picked up as well 🙂
The items mentioned above and others below can be used for the mystery box idea:
- No. 1 – to represent him being the first Imam
- A small Kaaba – to represent where he was born
- A toy lion – he was known as Asad-ullah
- A ring – for when he gave charity while in ruku
- A sword – to represent his sword of Zulfiqar
- A door – to represent Khaybar/city of knowledge
- A prayer mat, bread/rice – as he used to feed the poor at night
- A bed – as he slept in the Prophet’s bed on the night of Hijra)
- A spool of thread – to show how he used to mend his own clothes
- A pen – because he transcribed/compiled the Quran
- Scales – for his sense of justice
- A small book – to symbolise Nahjul Balagha/Dua Kumail
- A picture of his shrine in Najaf
- The letter ‘ayn’ for his name
- This short document on Imam Ali (as) might be useful:
- Read ‘Isa Climbs Mt Mushkil’ and watch the corresponding nasheed:
A craft to go with this is making a shield with Naade Ali on it:
- Here are some video resources on Imam Ali (as)
- Here are some more nasheeds reflecting his qualities:
- And here’s a movie on Imam Ali (as):