Making Gatherings Meaningful in Ramadan

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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!

Here is one of the hadith shared – very aptly 😉

  • 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!

Quran Gameshow Event

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Alhamd the Quran Gameshow event came and went with a bang!

Here are the details 

The 4 to 6 year old group:

The session started by describing the powers of the H.Quran and reading a story called ‘Q-Man and the Cat’ by A14 Publication.

The 4-6 year olds then engaged in an interactive Quran themed game show. The children were divided into four groups, they chose a name for their team and were asked to answer and perform interactive tasks (email xtjannahx@gmail.com for a copy of the questions and score sheet)

Questions included rolling Play dough on Arabic letters flashcards, matching animals mentioned in the H.Quran to their Arabic names, sequencing the Arabic letters, completing a Quran word puzzle and much more. All teams performed brilliantly well taking away lots of new interesting information about the H. Quran!

The 7 to 9 year old group:

The children were separated into groups of 5 and set about completing 6 tasks.

1.Placing the Islamic months of the year in order
2. Matching the names of Allah in English and Arabic
3. Matching foods from the Quran in English and Arabic
4. Placing the names of the imams in order
5. Answering basic questions involving numbers in the Quran
6. Matching up the prophets with the Heavenly books
They all scored very highly!

Then we had a quiz, with all 5 groups competing against each other. They received a token for every right answer. When there were no more tokens left, they could take a token from a competitors table!! At the end, all the tokens were added up and put on the scoreboard. The winning team was Red!

The children had great fun and worked really hard with their teams, it was great too see everybody having a chance to join in.

The 10+ year old group:

The children were treated to a good old fashioned game show with buzzers and all! They were split into 4 groups and each group had a chance to play each other. The top 2 then went on to the finals where they played Who Wants to be a Winner. Lots of fast fingers and fast answers won the day!

Familiarising our children with the Holy Quran - Idea 8: Share the stories of the Prophets from the Quran

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Here is what one mum said:

“My girls love prophet stories so when we sit down to eat, I tell them a prophet story as we eat (this also gets them to eat quicker too cos I’ll pause and only continue once they’ve had 3 more bites 😉). We’ve covered Prophets Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Yusuf, Musa, Suleiman, Yunus, Isa, Muhammed. Then when they read Qur’an to me and we repeatedly comeacross a prophet’s name e.g. Adam with Shaytan, Musa with “khamees”, etc, I’ll open my English Qur’an app and read the meaning with them.”

And another mum shared this also:

“We go through the stories of the Prophets and other stories from the set ‘the best Quranic stories’ then after finishing each book, we look up the verses mentioned and make a mark to remind us of the story as we recite the Quran.”

 

Thoughtful Gift Ideas 49: The Little White Envelope - the gift of giving others

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A beautiful idea I saw on facebook – looks perfect for an Eid gift!

THE LITTLE WHITE ENVELOPE: “It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes, and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.

Mike’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children – ignoring their new toys – would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.”
For the Man Who Hated Christmas

(A true Christmas Story by Nancy W. Gavin, December 2015)

Familiarising our children with the Holy Quran - Idea 7: Stick relevant verses up around the house

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Another great idea sent in was to stick relevant Ayaat/Du’a around the house e.g. when entering/exiting the washroom, when waking in the morning, before going to sleep etc 😊

DivineDuas create cards specifically for this purpose! Check out the pics/page for some ideas…

Dua Cards do different ones as well!

Familiarising our children with the Holy Quran - Idea 6: Discuss!

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Someone sent this great idea in:

“Sometimes we take the names of the Surah and talk about why this surah is named this way.. mostly surahs like Al Baqarah and Naml and Nahl.. etc.. we discuss the meanings and the story that refers to the names and read the verses regarding those stories.

We also tried watching the movie Nabi Yusuf and discussed Surah Yusuf along with the movie.. like finding which verses was the episode of the series was based on.”

Why not share something you’ve learnt about an ayah from a lecture/tafsir class at the dinner table? Or write it up on the board for reflection and discussion?

Familiarising our children with the Holy Quran - Idea 5: Interactive Ways to Learn!

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The link below is amazing! It has so many awesome ideas on how to get our children familiar with the different verses of the Quran, as well as links to learning the names of the Suras via mneumonics, a Bingo game, and more! Check out the tabs on the right.

Enjoy!

Familiarising our children with the Holy Quran - Idea 4: Lessons from the Quran Colouring Books

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These colouring books are such a wonderful resource! They pick out different akhlaqi verses from the Quran and have a colouring picture to denote that in action.

We’ve had them for a few years now and just randomly my 11 year old daughter asked me to hunt them out for her, as she was tempted to colour in them again! 

Of course, once coloured in and discussed, they can then be highlighted/journalled in the Quran!

UK folks, you can buys them here: https://www.hujjatbookshop.co.uk/lessons-from-the-quran-4-c…

Familiarising our children with the Holy Quran - Idea 3: Quranic Quiz Cards

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These Quiz cards are pretty awesome! With questions that are suitable for all ages (I was playing them with my 11 and 13 year old as well and we were stumped at some!), there is something for everyone…

It’s a fun way to check how many facts you know on the Quran and Quranic verses, and to learn more along the way!

For example:

How many surahs or chapters are named after the Prophets?

a) 6
b) 8
c) 10

Anyone willing to try?!

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