Here are ten reasons why you should plan for Ramadan:
Reason # 1: To be in “Ramadan mode”
By planning for Ramadan before it arrives, you put your mind in “Ramadan mode”. If you plan, you will mentally prepare for it, and it will force you to see it as the special month it is outside of your regular routine the rest of the year.
Reason # 2: To adjust your schedule
By planning in advance, you can adjust your work, sleep and meal schedules in such a way as to make time for Suhoor, Iftar, etc. That means, for instance, that if you normally go to bed at midnight, in Ramadan you would sleep earlier in order to get up early for Suhoor. Or if you usually study late, you can instead sleep earlier and start studying after Suhoor in the early morning hours. Planning in advance allows you the luxury to make time for the change in schedule that Ramadan brings.
Reason # 3: You can plan Ramadan family time
Is dinnertime usually an individual affair in your home, as opposed to a time the whole family eats together? Are Friday evenings the time every family member goes off to his/her own social activities? Planning in advance can change this at least in Ramadan. Calling a family meeting about a month in advance, explaining the importance of Ramadan, its implications for the family and the need to eat Iftar together when possible as well as to attend Tarawih prayers, for example, will allow all family members to adjust their work and school schedules accordingly. That will, Insha Allah, make Ramadan a blessing not just to every person in the family, but to the family as a whole.
Reason # 4: To make the menu
While Ramadan may mean extra Ibadah to some of the brothers, it usually means extra cooking for most of the sisters. Ramadan’s blessings are for men and women. Making a Ramadan menu for Iftar and meals, and working out when you want to invite relatives, neighbors and friends for Iftar will give sisters the opportunity to catch Tarawih and various other advantageous Ibadat instead of spending Ramadan’s 29 or 30 days stuck in the kitchen. (And by the way, brothers, helping out with cooking or cleaning was a practice of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him-maybe this is a way you can increase your Sawab [rewards] this month).
Reason # 5 : You can plan a Iftar at your home
You may have eaten fantastic Iftars at friends’ homes last year. This year, open your doors. There is blessing in feeding a fasting person other than yourself and your family. Planning in advance gives you the luxury of calling friends over the month before and setting a date, so you can “grab” them before others get an opportunity to. Muchos Sawab, Insha Allah!
Reason # 6: To make a travel schedule
Do you know a fellow Muslim in your neighborhood who wants to get to the mosque for Tarawih every night but doesn’t have a car? Or do you look at your work schedule and realize you have to work overtime near the end of Ramadan, so your family will miss out on Tarawih at the mosque the last ten nights of Ramadan? Planning in advance helps you work out your daily or weekly travel schedule to attend Tarawih prayers at the mosque, or even a trip for Iftar at a friend’s place who may life farther away. It also helps ease the burden of transportation in winter. Maybe you can start a car pool? Since you have the time before Ramadan begins, you can work this out with neighbors and friends.
Reason # 7: To do good at high Sawab times
Being generous is definitely an Islamic merit, but being generous in Ramadan is even more highly rewarded. Match Ibadat with specific times that carry more reward. Prepare to do Itifkaf, increase asking Allah for forgiveness in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Plan to give increased Sadaqa this month. Plan to visit that relative you may have not seen for months, if not years. Thinking about and arranging to do these things and finding other ways of gaining the pleasure of Allah in Ramadan will Insha Allah help you benefit more from it.
Reason # 8: You can squeeze in Eid shopping
Planning in advance helps you think about all of those things you wanted to do in time for the end of Ramadan or Eid last year but couldn’t. Maybe you wanted to go Eid shopping for gifts for family and friends in the last week of Ramadan but were too busy with the last ten nights of Ramadan. No problem. This year, you decide to go in the third week of Ramadan instead.
Reason # 9: You can plan Dawa activities during Ramadan
Some Muslims have gone to soup kitchens and made meals during Ramadan, while they were fasting. Not only will, Insha Allah, they be rewarded, but this is a great Dawa opportunity to explain what Ramadan and Islam are about. Planning in advance for such an activity gives you the time to call up a soup kitchen in your area, explain what you want to do, and get your act together. You can also plan school Dawa activities in Ramadan by planning in advance, by meeting with the principal or teacher beforehand.
• Focusing on food; to the extent that people begin to worry about eating more then actually fasting. This also goes along with spending tons of money on Iftaars even though a person does not need to eat that much food.
• Making Suhoor way before Fajr. Some people eat Suhoor a few hours after Taraweeh or Isha Salah, this is wrong. It should be eaten closer to the time of Fajr.
• People don’t make Niyyah (intentions) to fast for Ramadan. This is something in the heart and does not need to be verbal. Also it only needs to be done once, at the beginning of Ramadan and not every single day.
• If you find out late that Ramadan started, you should stop eating and fast for that day, making that day up after Ramadan/Eid ends.
• Many people don’t think you pray Taraweeh on the first night of RamadanThey believe you pray it after the first day you actually fast. They forget that the Islamic calendar runs on the moon, maghrib is the start of the new day.
• Many people believe if you eat or drink on accident this breaks your fast. This is false, if you do this on accident then you continue fasting and do not need to make up the day.
• Some people take the opinion that if they see someone eating or drinking they should not remind the person that he/she is fasting. According to Sheikh Bin Baz (ra), this is incorrect and it is an order from Allah for us to ordain the good and forbid the evil. Thus we tell the person, because we are forbidding the evil this way.
• Many sisters believe they cannot use Hennah while fasting. This is incorrect, they are allowed to use it during Ramadan.
• Some people believe when you are cooking you cannot taste the food to see if it has the right spices/flavors. This is false, and allowed in Islam as long as the person cooking is not eating the food. Rather they can taste it to see if it needs salt, or more spices.
• Many people think you cannot use a Miswak or toothbrush during Ramadan.This is false, for the Prophet(saw) used to use a miswak during Ramadan.
• Some people make the Fajr Adhan early. They do this so people will stop eating before Fajr and not invalidate their fast. This is wrong and something we should not do.
• Some people make the Maghrib Adhan late. They do this so people will start eating late, just in case Maghrib has not come in yet. This too is wrong and we should not do this.
• Many many people believe you cannot have intercourse with your spouse during the whole month of Ramadan. This is false, you cannot do this only during the times when you are fasting. Between Maghrib and Fajr it is permissible to do.
• Many women believe that if their period has just ended and they did not make ghusl, they cannot fast that day (considering their period ended at night, and they went to bed without Ghusl, waking up without having a chance to make it). This is incorrect, if a women has not made Ghusl she can still fast.
• Many men believe that if he has had intercourse with his wife and did not make ghusl (similar to the above) then he cannot fast the next morning. This is also incorrect, for he can fast even if he has not made Ghusl.
• Some people pray Dhur and Asr prayers together during Ramadan. (mainly in Arab countries) This is incorrect and should be avoided.
• Some people believe you cannot eat until the Muadthin is done calling the Maghrib Adthan. This is incorrect, as soon as he starts a person can break their fast.
• Many people don’t take advantage of making dua before they break their fast. This is one of the three times when Allah accepts a person dua.
• Many people make the mistake of spending the later part of Ramadan preparing for Eid, neglecting Ramadan. This is incorrect and these people lose the concept of what Ramadan is about.
• Many parents do not let their children fast during Ramadan (young children).This is something counter productive to a child. By allowing him to fast he will grow up to know he must do this act.
• Many people think Ramadan is just about not eating and forget about controlling their tempers and watching what they say. In actuality we are supposed to control our tempers and mouths even more during Ramadan.
• People often waste their time during Ramadan. They go to sleep during the day and get nothing done. We should be taking advantage of this blessed month by doing extra Ibaadat.
• Some people don’t go on trips or travel during Ramadan. They think they have to break their fast when traveling. This is actually optional, if you want to break your fast while traveling you can (with making it up later), and if you don’t you can continue fasting.
• Many people who are able don’t make Itikaaf at the masjid. We should take advantage of our good health and spend lots of time at the Masjid, especially the last 10 days of Ramadan.
• Some people believe they cannot cut their hair or nails during Ramadan. This is also false.
• Some people say you cannot swallow your spit during Ramadan. This too is false. However you cannot swallow mucus that has entered your mouth.
• Some people say you cannot use scented oils or perfumes during Ramadan.This too is false.
• Some people believe bleeding breaks the fast. This is not true.
• Some people believe if you throw up on accident it breaks your fast. This is not true, however if you do it intentionally it does.
• Some people think you cannot put water in your nose and mouth during wuduh in Ramadan. This too is incorrect.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an act of obedience and submission to Allah’s commands through the highest degree of commitment, sincerity and faithfulness to seek Allah’s mercy, to atone for sins, errors, and mistakes and to avoid condemnation to Hell.
It is done out of deep love for God, with a genuine virtue of devotion, honest dedication and closeness to Allah, for Fasting is for Allah and Him alone.
The fasting during Ramadan is obligatory on every adult, sane, and able Muslim.
Denial of the obligatory nature of fasting in the month of Ramadan amounts to disbelief.
One who avoids fasting without genuine reasons is a sinner and transgressor according to Islamic Shariah (Law).
Time: When to fast
Fasting in Islam involves abstinence from three primal physical needs of human beings- food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn (approximately one and a half hours before sunrise) to sunset during the entire month of Ramadan.
Who is exempted from fasting
1. Children under the age of puberty and discretion;
2. The insane people who are unaccountable for their deeds. People of these two categories are exempted from the duty of fasting and no compensation or any other substitute is enjoined on them;
3. Men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fasting and bear its hardships. Such people are exempted from this duty, but they must offer at least one needy poor Muslim an average full meal or its value per person day.
4. Sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by fasting. They may postpone the fast, as long as they are sick, to a later date and makeup for it, a day for a day;
5. People expecting hardship. Such people may break the fast temporarily during their travel only and make up for it in later days, a day for a day. But it is better for them, the Quran says, to keep the fast if they can without causing extraordinary hardships;
6. Expectant women and women nursing their children may also break the fast, if its observance is likely to endanger their own health or that of their infants. But they must make up for the fast at a delayed time, a day for a day;
7. Women in periods of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days). They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make up for it, a day for day.
Reference from Hadith and Quran:
It is not allowed for the woman who has just had a baby and is impure from that nor the woman during her monthly period to fast until they become clean from that and then they are obliged to make up the fasts they missed.
The duty of fasting is not compulsory for those who are not mature. Ibn Abbas narrated, “Whoever becomes old and is not able to fast in Ramadan should donate for every day missed one mudd (which is 544 grams) of grain.” Ibn Umar said “If I become too weak to fast I feed (someone) one mudd for every day missed.” Anas narrated that he became weak one year before he died so he gave away one mudd every day.
If someone is not able to fast because he is sick and it can lead him to more sickness from which he cannot not recover, at that time he is allowed to miss his fast because that is a hardship.
“He has chosen you and has not laid upon you in the deen any hardship.” (22:78)
When he has recovered he is obliged to make up for those days missed
“And if any of you is ill or has an ailment in his scalp (he should) in compensation either fast or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice.” (2:196)
“But if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is ransom the feeding of one that is indigent.” (2:184)
The How To’s of Fasting
Niyyah or Intention of Fast
To observe the fast, the intention of fasting is essential (Wajib). The intention should be made daily, preferably before dawn of each day of fasting (in Ramadan). There is no need to say “I intend to observe fast for today.”
Suhoor is a light, predawn meal, recommended before actually fasting. It is a blessing and hence recommended but not essential.
Any consumption of food or drink should cease at least five to ten minutes before the onset of dawn.
Iftar is an Arabic term meaning breaking the fast immediately after the sunset. Iftar is a light snack consisting of dates or desserts, along with liquids, such as water, juice or milk.
This is eaten after making the following Dua (supplication) for breaking the fast:
“Oh Allah! I fasted for your sake and I am breaking my fast from the sustenance You blessed me with, accept it from me.”
What breaks the fast
1. Intentional consumption of food, drink, medicine, or smoking during the fasting.
2. Any injection which has some nutritional value.
3. Beginning of menstruation or post natal birth bleeding (even in the last moment of sunset).
The conditions mentioned above invalidate fasting and require “Qada” (making up only the missed day or days). However, intentional intercourse during the hours of fasting invalidates fasting and not only requires “Qada” but also additional penalty (Kaffara-see the explanation of this below).
Reference from Hadiths:
• If anyone vomits deliberately then his fast is broken because it is narrated by Abu Hurairah that Muhammad (Pbuh) said, “Whoever vomits deliberately has to make up for fast. And whoever vomits naturally does not have to make it up.” The scholars understood from this hadith that whoever vomits intentionally should make up one day but whoever did so involuntarily should continue his fast so long as he did not swallow back any of the vomit.
• If anyone eats intentionally, forgetting it is a day of Ramadan, he need not make up his day nor need he pay atonement (Kaffara). (This is the opinion of the Hanbali and Shafi schools. For the Maliki and Hanafi schools, whoever eats intentionally during Ramadan should make up the fast and pay kaffara). Abu Hurairah narrated that Muhammad (Pbuh) said, “Whoever forgets and eats during the month of Ramadan, he does neither need to make up his fast nor is he required to pay kaffarah (atonement).”
• (This is the opinion of the Hanbali and Shafi’i schools.) Whoever eats intentionally during Ramadan should make up the fast and pay kaffara). Bukhari also recorded “Whoever forgets any fast and eats or drinks should continue his fast because Allah is the one who feeds him.” If a fasting man eats or did intercourse and thinks the dawn has not risen or he thinks the sunset is upon him when it was not, his fasting would not be counted and he would have to make it up.
What does not break the fast
1. Eating or drinking by mistake, unmindful of the fast.
2. Unintentional vomiting.
3. Swallowing things which are not possible to avoid, such as one’s own saliva, street dust, smoke, etc.
4. Brushing the teeth.
5. Bathing: if water is swallowed unintentionally, it does not invalidate the fast. However, while fasting gargling should be avoided.
6. Injection or I/V (Intravenous) which is solely medicinal and not nutritional.
7. In some special circumstances if the food or drink is just tasted and immediately removed out of the mouth without allowing it to enter into the throat.
During the fasting period, if one deliberately breaks his or her fast, s/he must free one slave, or fast for sixty continuous days, or feed sixty needy persons, or spend in charity an amount equal to feeding sixty persons.
If one chooses to fast sixty days and the continuity is interrupted for any reason, except menstruation, one has to start the sixty day cycle all over again.
Breaking of the fast under exceptional conditions
Muslims are permitted to break their fast of Ramadan when there is a danger to their health.
In this situation a Muslim should make up his/her fast later. The missed fast(s) can be made up at any other time of the year, either continuously or intermittently, except on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr and the day of Eid-ul-Adha
These are special Sunnah prayers in the month of Ramadan. They follow the Isha prayers. A minimum of eight and a maximum of twenty Rakat are offered in pairs of two.
Amongst the nights of Ramadan, there is one special night of Power (Qadr) which is highlighted in Surah al-Qadr (Surah 97 in the Quran).
It has the significance of being better than a thousand months (Quran 97:3).
This was the night when Quran was revealed to mankind. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) recommended Muslims search for this night of Power (Qadr) in the odd nights of the last ten nights in Ramadan.
One should spend the night in Ibadah (worship), asking forgiveness of their sins and reciting the Quran
Ask Allah to make this the most awesome, spiritually uplifting Ramadan you’ve ever had. Only He can make it happen and relying on Him completely is one step in boosting our spirits.
2. Quiet your mind
Turn off the TV, internet, radio, cell phone, pager, iPod, etc. No, not all day, but for at least 10 minutes a day. Find a quiet place, close your eyes and connect with God. At first, your mind will swirl with the useless and not-so-useless info in your head. But force it to think of three things in these few minutes:
Allah your purpose in life
Are you living your life on purpose?
Do this every day of Ramadan if you can. If that’s not possible, try it at least three times a week.
3. Learn about great Muslims
Read about or listen to the story of a Companion daily. This is a wonderful way to see how other Muslims retained their strength of faith against incredible odds. A sure-fire spirituality booster.
4. Connect to the Qur’an
The Quran is God’s way of talking to us. It’s one of the most important keys to spiritual upliftment. This Ramadan, connect to the Quran in a new way. If you already read Quran regularly, perhaps you can choose a new theme to focus on or select a Surah you haven’t read in a while. If you don’t read Quran regularly, maybe you can read just two minutes of Quran a day, reading only from the first page you encounter when you open up the Book.
In addition, try to keep a Qur’anic journal to record your reflections, questions, thoughts, etc. about what you’ve read.
5. Take care of others
Whether it’s someone who’s away from their family, a person who’s having problems with a spouse or their kids or a fellow student struggling with their grades, make an extra effort this Ramadan to help others out. The spiritual boost you get in return is well worth it.
6. Feed the hungry
While your stomach shrieks in protest, give that panhandler some change, volunteer at a soup kitchen, get involved with your local food pantry or make a couple of bag lunches to give to the hungry you meet on your way to school or work.
7. Give up one lifelong bad habit
Ask yourself what some of your defining traits are. Then decide which is the worst of them. Is it a hot temper? Apathy? Laziness? Impatience? Whatever it is, use this Ramadan to put an end to it. Practice the opposite of your bad habit every day until the end of the month. By then Insha Allah, you’ll look back and be amazed at what a change you’ve made for the better.
8. Use those Nights of Power
The last ten nights or Ramadan aren’t called the Nights of Power for nothing. Use these precious times for deep, heartfelt Dua (supplication), self-analysis, reflection and serious thought.
Here are a few ideas to help make it special this year Insha-Allah.
1. Hold a family meeting about Ramadan
A week before Ramadan, hold a family meeting to explain what Ramadan is, that the sighting of the moon indicates its beginning, what Muslims do and how the family’s schedule will change. Also ask for suggestions of what everyone would like to do during the month. For instance, would they like to take a trip somewhere, eat a specific type of food, etc.
2. Welcome the month with balloons, banners and more
Say “Ramadan Mubarak” with the standard party fare: balloons, a great banner and decorations galore. Get the kids to help decorate the place and ask for their ideas and suggestions so they feel included.
3. Tell a Ramadan story during bedtime every night
Don’t just rely on children’s books about Ramadan to share stories. Describe what Ramadan was like when you were a kid. You can also make some tales up with your child as the main character in a Ramadan adventure!
4. Let them fast even a quarter of the day and celebrate
Kids often want to fast as they see their parents and older siblings do. This year, let them fast for a couple of hours. Prepare a special “Iftar” for them when they break fast with a couple of their favorite foods.
5. Make Ramadan loot bags for their class
Get their teacher’s permission to make loot bags with Ramadan Mubarak written on them for the class. Fill it with candy, small toys and a little card explaining in two or three short sentences what Ramadan is. Have your child distribute the bags to their classmates.
6. Make a presentation about Ramadan in their class
7. Make Ramadan arts and crafts at home
Art is a great way to learn more about Ramadan. Have the kids make the different shapes of the moon and show which one indicates the beginning of the month, which one the middle and which one the end; make a collage of some of their favorite foods for Iftar; have them make special Ramadan place-mats for the dinner table.
8. Make a family trip out of sighting the moon
Once the kids are dressed in their pajamas, herd them into the car and take them to where other Muslims in the city are gathering to sight the Ramadan moon. Do the same at the end of the month. Bring a telescope or binoculars.
9. Invite their friends over for a kids-only Iftar
Let your kids come up with the guest list and menu. Also, have them make some of the food. You can pick some kid-friendly recipes or they can help with preparing the parts of Iftar that don’t require using a stove or cutting with knives.
10. Invite grandparents or elder community members over for Iftar
After everyone’s eaten, hold a storytelling session where the guests describe what Ramadan was like when they were growing up. Ask them to be descriptive. How was Iftar time announced? In some countries, they use a drum. In other places a verbal announcement on a loudspeaker is made. What kind of food did they eat? What games did they play during Ramadan?
11. Make a Ramadan 2010 scrapbook
Take plenty of photos of everyone during Suhur (now that’s entertaining!) and Iftar time, as well as while they are fasting and pieces of decorations used, interesting stickers, etc. to make a scrapbook about this Ramadan. Each child should bring three mementos he or she would like to include.
12. Remember the poor
Arrange with the kids to volunteer at a soup kitchen for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday. If possible, try to find one that has children as its clients so they see that not only adults, but kids like themselves also suffer from hunger.
13. Make and send homemade Ramadan cards
Before the month starts, have an arts and crafts session to make Ramadan Mubarak cards for siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Send the cards soon though, time’s running out!
14. Play Ramadan halaal songs/Nasheeds
When the kids are playing or involved in some leisure activity, turn off the usual fare and put on some beautiful Ramadan songs in English and your own language if available. Maybe you can ask the kids to memorize one song by the end of Ramadan or compose one of their own.
15. Take them to Tarawih prayer so they feel they’re part of a community
Nothing teaches community spirit like congregational prayer. Take the kids with you to the mosque for Tarawih prayer on Friday and Saturday nights when homework isn’t an issue. Also, ask them to bring some of their allowance to give in charity while they’re there.
The Prophet Muhammad
“No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training.” (Tirmidhi), peace and blessings of God be upon the Prophet.
The many aspects of Ramadan–fasting, prayers, moral values, charity, Quran, family, Eid– provide a valuable opportunity to train kids. Whether they are your own kids or kids you teach, education or training isn’t an automatic or easy process. Children don’t bring empty minds and fill them with what we say. Training requires effort, energy and a few techniques to take off.
Here are some training tips and techniques to transform your children’s minds and memories this Ramadan:
Let them get their Hands Dirty
“The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.”
Children learn by “doing”. On average, students retain 75 percent of a lesson when they learn through hands-on activities compared to five percent through a lecture or 10 percent through reading (Brunmer, Jerome, “The Process of Learning”).
If, for example, you want to teach your kids the concept of Zakat, get them to help you calculate your Zakat, decide where to send the money, and mail the envelopes. Action and implementation can occur while children learn, not necessarily after!
The Prophet used to take his daughter Fatima with him when he went for prayer at the Kaba in Makkah. Later, in Madinah, he would bring his grandchildren, Hassan and Hussain, to the Masjid as toddlers before they knew how to pray.
A concept becomes real and important to children when they experience it rather than simply read about it.
They’ll remember how to do it years later when you may catch them telling their friends,
“I’ve been calculating Zakat since I was a kid!”
Involve their Emotions
When children get emotionally involved in an activity, they rarely want to leave it. Video games and TV shows target children’s emotions. As parents and educators, we can use the same technique for training.
Stories, songs, skits, crafts and games grab children’s emotions. Once a child is interested and excited, she is more likely to stay attentive till the end and get the message you want to give. Just as we remember events in our lives that were emotionally significant, children remember concepts learned through activities that were “fun”, “funny”, “exciting” or “different”.
Don’t be afraid to stir some fun into your training—you don’t have to lose any content. Write a song about Eid, create a Hadith treasure box, organize a Ramadan trivia night, or read a story about Ramadan in Madinah. If they enjoy it, the kids will come back for more!
Reveal the Purpose
We often hear students complain, “Why do we have to do this?” or “This math exercise is pointless”. Unfortunately, we often hear responses like, “Because I’m telling you to,” “Because you have to”, or worse, “You’ll get a new CD player if you finish the book”.
Like us, if children don’t see the purpose or importance of an action, they won’t have the motivation to complete it. To avoid getting similar comments from your kids about prayer or fasting, make sure they understand the purpose. Before you begin any lesson, whether it’s a story about the Companions of the Prophet or an Eid craft, explain exactly why you are the doing the activity and what benefits the children will gain from it.
Remind your children that they are doing acts of worship to please Allah, not you. Explain why we need to please Allah and how every action, including washing dishes or math homework, will help us achieve that goal. If children are praying only to please you, when you leave, their motivation and prayers will disappear.
If children are motivated to fast Ramadan or complete the Quran for a material incentive (like a CD player), they may never develop a love of Allah or an intrinsic desire to perform the action. They may, instead, learn to value material rewards and when the rewards disappear, the actions may disappear with them.
Help your children understand that, for Muslims, rewards don’t necessarily come in this life. They may have to wait for the bigger and better rewards of the hereafter.
Highlight the Big Ideas
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
Ask yourself how many equations or formulas you remember from your Grade 12 Math textbook. It may be five or two or none. Let’s be honest – most of us retained very little of the details we learned.
Children will not retain all the Fiqh rulings of Zakat or Wudu or SalahÉ.and they won’t need to! Make sure the little that they retain is exactly what you want them to remember. Focus on the big ideas, such as the awareness that Allah is watching us, that we get our rulings from the Quran and the Sunnah, that prayer is a means of self-purification, etc. Repeat these ideas every day in different ways. While your children instill these principles in their minds, show them how to learn the rest on their own, when they need it.
Help your kids learn “how to learn”. Teach them where to find the Fiqh information they need or how to do research on a topic and who to ask for information. They will be better prepared if they master the basics and know how to get the specifics. Memorizing every ruling will be a waste of their time and yours.
Let them Lead!
Children often take responsibilities more seriously than adults. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, appointed young adults like Ali, Anas and Usamah ibn Zaid, young adults, for important assignments that sometimes required them to lead even older and more experienced Companions.
Give children leadership over important tasks and step out of the picture. Assign one child to wake up all his siblings for Suhur. Let someone else be in charge of updating the Iftar time every evening. Allow the children to plan, budget and buy Eid gifts for all the relatives. Let them choose which task they want to “be in charge of”.
Allow children to make mistakes and realize on their own what they should have done. Experience often trains better than instruction. Once a child goes out into the cold without a jacket, he’ll remember, before you can remind him, to put on his jacket next time.
Train kids to be responsible for their own learning. If a child asks,
“Does brushing teeth break my fast?” a simple “yes” or “no” may give her the answer, but won’t provide any long-term training.
Ask her instead, “Where can you look to find that answer? Let’s do some research.”
Begin the month of Ramadan by asking your children to do a research project on what breaks the fast and what does not. If they find the information themselves, they are likely to remember it and know exactly where to get it again next year.
“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Carl Rogers
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
W. B. Yeats
Kids catch on to your enthusiasm. Show some excitement and passion about the topic you’re teaching.
Show your kids that you “can’t wait” for Ramadan to begin.
Be cheerful at prayer times.
Decorate the house in anticipation of Eid.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, taught by example. His character and actions motivated people to love and emulate him. Be the example you want your kids to be. Make a genuine effort to love the activities you want your kids to love.
Combine Love with Learning
Abu Huraira reported that al-Aqra’ b. Habis saw the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, kissing Hasan (his grandson). He said: I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them, whereupon Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said: He who does not show mercy, no mercy would be shown to him. (Muslim)
Show children that you love them, regardless of how they perform. Allow each child to progress at his own pace. Saying, “look at your cousin Aminah—she’s already finished the fifteenth juz“, will only lower your child’s self-esteem and discourage what she’s already accomplishing.
Excessive competition and comparison can often result in helplessness and lack of motivation for children who learn in different ways or at a slower pace. Allow children to judge their own progress and compare themselves to their former level rather than that of others.
Make this Ramadan the beginning of a memorable and long-lasting training experience for you and your children!
10 great goals to set for Ramadan
1. Eat, drink and be moderate
Almost all of us do it – once Iftar time hits, we just keep plowing food and drink into our mouths till it’s hard to move afterward. And those of us who do it know this is totally contrary to the spirit of Ramadan, through which we’re supposed to learn self-control not self-indulgence. Let’s try to stick to the Prophetic rule on eating: fill our stomachs with one-third food, one-third water and one-third breathing space, even in Ramadan.
2. Give a dollar a day in charity…or five or ten
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was always generous but even more so in Ramadan. Let’s open our hearts and dig a little deeper in our wallets this year. Even less than a dollar a day adds up. Whatever you can give, it’s the intention that counts.
3. Memorize 4 new Surahs
Memorizing the Quran often seems like a daunting task. But the key is doing it in small bites. Since there are four weeks in Ramadan, try to memorize one new Surah a week. Start off with a short, easy one. Once you’ve started, you’ll build momentum and may even want to memorize a longer one the following week.
4. Go to Tarawih prayers
Post-Iftar, the first urge is to sleep after an exhausting day. But try your best to head out to the mosque for Tarawih prayers. Praying alone is wonderful, but doing it in congregation is fantastic. The community spirit is part of Ramadan’s blessings. Don’t miss it this year. If going every day is not possible, try going at least one week.
5. Attend the Tarawih prayer in which the recitation of the Quran will be finished
Call the local mosque and find out which day the Imam will be finishing the recitation of the Quran in prayer. Attend to not only hear part of the Quran’s recitation in prayer, but also participate in the heart-rending Duas that follow it.
6. Stop swearing and/or backbiting – with a special box
It’s hard not to shoot our mouths off when someone’s upset us. Whether we utter those four-letter words or backbite about someone to our family and friends, we know this isn’t the God-approved way of letting off steam. In Ramadan, when we want to build our spirituality, we’ve got to wage Jihad against our bad habits.
Try this: get a box and every time you catch yourself swearing or backbiting put some money in it. It could be a buck or less. The point is to choose an amount that makes it feel like punishment.
At the end of the month send the money to a charity or buy a gift for the person whom you’ve backbitten the most against.
7. Call/email your relatives
You’d think that given the easy access to email, competitive long-distance calling rates, phone cards, etc. these days, we’d keep in touch with family and friends more often. But the opposite seems to be the case, as we get caught up in life’s “busyness.”
Strengthening ties with family members and keeping in touch with friends is part of our way of life and an act Allah is very pleased with. This Ramadan, call family and friends or at least email them a Ramadan card and ask them how their fasting is going.
8. Go on a technology diet
Even if you work in the IT industry, you can do this. Avoid checking personal email and surfing the web during your fast. After Iftar, instead of plopping yourself in front of the screen, go to Tarawih. The same goes for the television. The point is to try to give our full attention to spiritual elevation this month.
9. Read 5 minutes of Quran a day…just five, not more, not less
Even if you feel you’ve got absolutely no time, set a timer or the alarm on your cell phone and find a relatively quiet place. You can read the first page of the Quran you open or follow a sequence. The choice is yours. The point is simply to connect with God through His revelation in the month of the Quran.
10. Forgive everyone who has hurt you
Still got a festering wound from the fight with your friend last year? Still upset about something your spouse said during a heated argument? Or are you still bitter about the way your parents sometimes treated you as a kid? Let go of the anger and pain this Ramadan and forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiving someone is not only good for the body, but it’s also great for the soul.