In line with making gatherings meaningful in Ramadan, here’s another idea! Last Ramadan, my 11 year old daughter and I held a joint sehri!
There were 6 girls and their mums… as they came in, they were given a sheet of questions to fill out – the mother sheet was different to the daughter’s one – and they weren’t allowed to look at each others! Here is a copy of the sheets.
They also filled out a little slip of paper each – for the girls, the question was: What’s one thing you find hard to discuss with your mother? and for the mums, the question was: What’s one thing you wish your daughter would talk to you about? No names were placed on these to allow safety for both parties to put down any topic they wanted! Here is a copy of the sheet.
We then put these aside and got to the fun stuff 🙂
First up was an obstacle course where each mother-daughter pair was tied together (literally), as if in a three-legged race. Each pair then had to complete an obstacle course which was timed, and the mother-daughter pair that did it in the quickest time, won! The course included bouncing a ball each 5 times, maneuvering the ball in and out of the cushions, lifting the hula hoop over and under the pair together and then running back to the start!
Next was a game where the mums were one team against the daughters. It involved a lot of skittles on a plate, a spoon, and no hands! Mums and daughters faced each other across the plate with only a spoon in their mouths, and the task was to use the spoon to lift as many skittles off the plate and on to a bowl in 1 minute. The group that got the most skittles at the end, were the winners. I am proud to say that the mums beat the daughters for this one 😉
The final game played was a lego communications exercise. Each person received an envelope full of lego pieces – each mother-daughter pair had an identical pack. They then had to put their backs against each other so they couldn’t see each other. The daughters then had 1 min to make a lego creation with what they had, then they had a few minutes to explain their creation (using words/description only – no visuals!) so that their mums could recreate their creation. The mother-daughter pair with the closest resembling creation won! Lots of lessons on communication were extracted from this – such as how simple words can be misunderstood, how communication needs to be as clear as possible, and how shouting to make yourself understood doesn’t help!
We then moved on to the highlight – foooood 🙂 – and while we ate we opened up the small chits they anonymously filled out right at the beginning, and started discussing the issues that came up – things like puberty, friendships, school, etc. Alhamd a fruitful and varied discussion was had!
Finally, last on the agenda was using the sheets they had filled out right at the beginning to see how well mothers and daughters knew each other! The aim was just to have fun and be lighthearted while we learnt about each other, as opposed to test the pair! Each mother-daughter pair took a turn sitting on the sofa and being the centre of attention. I then looked through their sheets and asked them random questions based on it – i would ask the daughters from the mum’s sheet, e.g. what’s your mum’s worst chore to do around the house? and vice versa, e.g what’s your daughter’s favourite movie? We only did about 3 questions each before moving on to the next pair. Each mother-daughter used their time on the hot spot well, cudding close and some very sweet photos were taken during this time!
And so ended a lovely evening where mums and daughters enjoyed quality time with each other, learning more about each other, as well as getting to know the other mums and daughters in the group too!
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!