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!:
For children it can sometimes be difficult to find a way to explain what happened in Kerbala. Below are some resources you might find useful.
What is Muharram?
Why attend the majlis of Imam Husayn (as)?
The Journey of Imam Husayn (a) from Medina to Kerbala:
A beautifully done video narrated by a little girl, on Imam’s final embrace:
This video is on Baby Asghar:
This is on Bibi Um Al Banin:
This video is on Bibi Fatemah Sughra:
This video is on Bibi Zainab:
This video is an overview of the events, with a focus on the sermons that followed:
This one is a general simple and short cartoon:
This is a 4 part series about the life of Abbas (as) in Arabic:
This is an English series called Heroes of Kerbala telling about the companions of Imam Husain (as):
A short but powerful synopsis on the lessons of Kerbala – Ideal for the older children.
Beautiful story narrating the journey from Madina to Kerbala:
This animated cartoon of a lamiya where the father (Abather Alhalwachi) narrates to his son (Ammar Al Halwachi) the story of the children of Karbala:
An English cartoon recitation for children:
💚 Thank You O' HussainBy Basim KarbalaeiDirected by Abbas Yousefi
Posted by Ahlulbayt TV on Friday, 28 September 2018
Another great product that was given out at a majlis last year! A pencil case with ‘There is no day like your day O’Hussain’ on it…
Another great product – a drawstring bag which can be used for mosque, school, etc!
Muharram Gem 1:
Teach your children that the tears for Imam Husayn (as) have shafa – indeed, tears have been found to have different chemical content, depending on why they are being shed. Encourage them to wipe it on their faces and body, rather than wiping it away with a tissue.
From a majlis by a Zakira
Muharram Gem 2:
We need to put a love of the family of the Ahlul Bayt (as) into our children from a young age. If we do this, then it will help them when they’re older. Many teenagers have strayed, but through the love of Imam Husayn (as) have then come to the majalis of Muharram and returned to the right path – they started praying again, started fasting again, started wearing hijaab again, and so on…
Summarised from a seminar by Sheikh Abbas Jaffer
In the same vein: We need to put the love of Islam into our children BEFORE the law. When they are older, if they rebel against the law, it will be the love that will bring them back.
From a majlis by a Zakira
Muharram Gem 3:
Don’t underestimate the value of maatam and the symbol of what it stands for. Teach your children it’s importance and to take part, even if they don’t understand it yet.
In Russia, when it was difficult to openly practise Islam and commemorate, Muslims developed a softer, more secret way to do maatam rather than give it up altogether. They would slip their hand in between buttons and place it on the chest and whisper, and they taught their children to do the same.
Now, they are allowed to practise more freely and so do maatam normally again, but continue to do this secret maatam every now and then as a reminder…
Summarised from a lecture by Sheikh Abbas Jaffer
Muharram Gem 4:
We listen to lectures year in, year out – but the change in us in minimal. How can we change this so that the knowledge turns into action?
One suggestion is that we reflect on it and pull out a point of action even after the majlis. On the way home, why not start a family tradition on what each family member learned and one small thing they are going to try and change based on that?
Inshallah with little steps like that, big changes can happen 🙂
Inspired by a lecture by Sheikh Abbas Jaffer
Muharram Gem 5:
Today’s Muharram gem comes in the form of this video. In yesterday’s lecture, Sheikh Abbas Jaffer talked about wealth, and the duties that come with it.
This video is a perfect example of someone who recognised that, and in fact uses the same words: “If you have wealth, it’s a duty to help those that don’t.”
Watch this video with your children, about the inspiring billionaire who gives 99%(!) of his wealth to developing long term solutions to world issues such as water, energy and health.
I am going to veer from my usual posts with this one, but I believe it is valuable Inshallah.
Alhamdulillah, this page has Muslims of all sects, but inevitably every Muharram, those of the Sunni faith start ‘un’liking the page as the posts about Imam Husayn (as) and Kerbala begin.
But as this eloquent Khutba from last Friday by renowned Sunni scholar, Imam Khalid Latif at the Islamic Center of New York University shows, this event is not just one for Shias to commemorate. It is part of a MUSLIM history, and one with lessons for all.
Well worth a listen! We are ONE Ummah!
Excerpt: “I would encourage those of us who are not familiar with the tragedies that take place in the month of Muharram to take the time to go and understand and read our history. And that’s a Muslim history, not a Sunni or a Shia history. And to be able to relate and connect to every character that is there and to understand really, what are they made of? That they were able to move forward in the face of such atrocity, in the face of such challenge, and still say that the next world is more important than this one. That Allah is greater than all of this. That I will not compromise on my relationship with the Divine for anything of this dunya. It’s for you and I to take from, not from anybody else. It’s for you and I to reflect on, to make the individual decision. And it starts in being honest with yourself. Do you really believe that honesty drives you? Do you believe that integrity drives you?… I would encourage that you engage and take in some capacity. Push your comfort zone, and not for anybody else’s sake. Not to prove that you are somehow open-minded and you will be present in gatherings. Let this Muharram be about your heart… and yield to the idea that there is immense opportunity for gain and rejuvenation. We just have to decide whether it’s something we want to take for ourselves or not.”
As we prepare to enter the months of Muharram and Safar, here are some INVALUABLE points for parents and teachers to keep in mind. Please read and share!
Take the first point for example – SO crucial:
“Images of Violence:
It never ceases to amaze me the extent of graphic details Islamic school curriculums, teachers, and speakers provide children when discussing Karbala. Yes, it was a battle and yes it was a tragedy beyond words. However, such violent and graphic details are socially and developmentally inappropriate. Many children struggle to understand topics such as death, loss, and grief. When Islamic school teachers decide to focus on the explicit details of how Ali al-Asghar or Imam Abbas (as) were killed, it can be difficult for children to overcome. You can definitely get the message across that Yazeed and Bani Ummayah were the lowest of the low and enemies of God without describing to a child in graphic details the murder of another child.”
For the whole article, click here: http://www.aimislam.com/sharing-the-message-of-karbala-with-children/
I don’t normally refer to politics on this page, but a teacher sent me something recently that is so apt in this time of unrest in Ferguson and with the whole issue of race, and especially given that we are still in the months of commemorating Kerbala, that I thought I would share.
It is not surprising that Islam teaches us lessons through the personalities of Kerbala on every aspect of life – including race. It is also another great example of how we can introduce such topics in school settings…
Here is what she said:
“October is black history month where black personalities are remembered for their contributions in all walks – history, science, etc.
I took this opportunity to raise awareness at school and decided to hold assemblies and wrote an article for the weekly newsletter. Year 10’s have also read and discussed this in their PSHCE lessons:
“Black History Month continues to remember John and Fizza.
While everyone was enjoying their half term holidays some staff and students of QPC School were part of over 1.5 billion people globally commemorating the martyrdom of personalities such as John and Fizza.
John was a Christian Abyssinian freed slave who was the companion of Husayn. John’s life teaches us a lesson of loyalty and true friendship. He defended his companion with his life.
Fizza was an Abyssinian princess who left her riches to join the struggle of Husayn. Fizza showed that age or worldly desires should not come in the way of your belief. She happily went from riches to rags becoming the backbone of the household of Husayn which was a symbol of peace, justice and good virtue.
The selfless sacrifice made by black Abyssinian personalities such as John and Fizza at the epic of Karbala have great lessons for us to learn amidst a world of discrimination and injustice.”
P.S. The photo is of one of a great series of books on the companions of Imam Husayn (as) in Kerbala!
This is how one family spent the half-term holiday – by recreating the scene of Kerbala. What a great way to allow children to visually and spatially understand the events that occurred…
And here is the Kufa and Shaam one they made:
Tanveer Shares has a great video on making a model to help you get started:
And here is another version by a family with younger children: