Sleep and You: The Mercy Beyond Slumber

Getting a good night’s sleep after a long and exhausting day is something that everyone looks forward to. (I’m pretty sure you know how groggy and cranky some of us can be without enough sleep!)

The cessation of movement when we sleep means that the body can rest from all the moving and going about our daily lives. Imagine having to go through our daily routines – studying, working, sports practice, performing all sorts of activities – and not having the time to rest and rejuvenate at the end of the day. What a hard and unpleasant life that would be!

This is why sleep itself is actually a huge mercy from Allah SWT.

In Surah An-Naba’, Allah SWT says:

وَجَعَلْنَا نَوْمَكُمْ سُبَاتاً

“And We have made your sleep [a means for] rest.” (An-Naba’: 9)

A lot of research has been done by experts who have tried to understand the science of sleep and how it affects us. Sleeping is more than just about letting the body rest from physical activity. Do you know that your brain goes into “spring cleaning mode” when you go to sleep? After working so hard during the day processing all sorts of information, sleep allows the removal of toxins that tend to build up during the hours we are awake. Also, there’s an interesting link between getting enough sleep and its effects on the immune system, too. Researchers found that individuals who got better quality sleep were less likely to develop cold symptoms.

Sleep deprivation can have negative effects on our mood and concentration as well. You might find that you would feel more irritable if you have insufficient sleep (which would in turn affect your interaction with the people around you!). Not only that, it’s also harder to be alert, pay attention, memorize things, and solve problems when your mind is not fully rested.

Now we know that getting enough sleep means taking care of our physical and mental health, but we shouldn’t miss another very important point: that being healthy would ultimately help us perform our ‘ibaadah with better stamina and concentration, inshaAllah.

Sleepforkids.org has two interesting resources to help children learn and understand sleep better, the Sleep Diary (helps them track how much sleep they get, how they feel during the day, etc.) and Sleep Calculator. Nice way to get started on healthy bedtime habits! 😉

Also check out this page for different hands-on activities and experiments to explore the concept of circadian rhythm.

Last but definitely not least, make sure to read the wondrous story of the People of the Cave as told in Surah Al-Kahf and discover the extraordinary facts about their sleep! 🙂

Miracle in the ripening of fruits

When was the last time you ate a ripe, juicy, delicious fruit? Maybe you’ve eaten strawberries, oranges, pomegranates, or bananas recently?

Well, they do taste good for sure!

Many of us are blessed with the ease and convenience of getting fruits that are already ripe on our tables. Why do people prefer fruits that are ripe? Ripe fruits are usually sweeter, softer, and have a nicer smell. However, as we enjoy the pleasant taste of these different fruits, we often hardly give a thought about the actual process that takes place when fruits ripen.

Do you know that Allah SWT actually mentions ripening of the fruit as one of the signs that the believers should reflect on?

Let’s first look at the verse in the Quran where Allah mentions about this miracle:

وَهُوَ الَّذِىۡۤ اَنۡزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً​ ۚ فَاَخۡرَجۡنَا بِهٖ نَبَاتَ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ فَاَخۡرَجۡنَا مِنۡهُ خَضِرًا نُّخۡرِجُ مِنۡهُ حَبًّا مُّتَرَاكِبًا​ ۚ وَمِنَ النَّخۡلِ مِنۡ طَلۡعِهَا قِنۡوَانٌ دَانِيَةٌ وَّجَنّٰتٍ مِّنۡ اَعۡنَابٍ وَّالزَّيۡتُوۡنَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُشۡتَبِهًا وَّغَيۡرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ​ ؕ اُنْظُرُوۡۤا اِلٰى ثَمَرِهٖۤ اِذَاۤ اَثۡمَرَ وَيَنۡعِهٖ ؕ اِنَّ فِىۡ ذٰ لِكُمۡ لَاٰيٰتٍ لِّقَوۡمٍ يُّؤۡمِنُوۡنَ‏ 

“And it is He who sent down water from the heavens, and thereby We have brought vegetation of every kind, and out of this We have brought forth green foliage and then from it close-packed ears of corn, and out of the palm-tree from the sheath of it – thick clustered dates, hanging down with heaviness, and gardens of vines, and the olive tree, and the pomegranate – all resembling one another and yet so different. Behold their fruit when they bear fruit and ripen! Surely, in all this there are signs for those who believe. (Al-An’am: 99)

Think about the differences between unripe vs. ripe fruits. You may notice some obvious changes that happen when fruits ripen – the color changes, they become softer, they produce a nicer smell, and last but not least, they also taste yummier!

So what’s actually happening during this period?

When a fruit starts to ripen, there’s a clever process taking place that breaks down the chlorophyll (the green pigment of the plant), and at this stage, other pigments start to develop. These other pigments give a fruit its new colour. Anthocynanin, for example, is the pigment that gives a fruit its red, blue, purple or black hue, such as in the case of blueberry and raspberry. Similarly, yellow, red, or orange colors are due to another pigment known as carotenoids. We can see this in pumpkins, carrots, and corns, for example. At the same time, there is an activity involving some enzymes that takes place in the cell walls of the fruit. This causes the cell walls to break down, and when this happens, the fruit becomes softer and more juicy.

But that’s not all!

During ripening, there is also a process that breaks down the starch content inside the fruit. While this happens, the amount of simple sugars (such as sucrose, glucose and fructose) also increases, which is what gives the fruit its yummy taste. In addition to the pleasant taste of the fruit, the plant releases some chemicals into the air, and this is why a ripe fruit smells nice.

Subhanallah, isn’t it amazing that all these clever processes can happen in even the tiniest of fruit by the will of Allah SWT?

This topic actually provides a great opportunity for children to practice their observational and experimental skills by following the different stages of fruits throughout the ripening process. They can also do their own further research on more questions related to this subject, for example:

  • What is ethylene and what role does it play in the ripening process?
  • Why do some fruits continue to ripen even after you picked them while others stop ripening after being picked? What are some examples of these?
  • What is artificial ripening and what are the harmful effects of ripening fruits artificially?

Lastly, remember that this gradual process teaches children – and human beings in general – a very important, beautiful concept, which is patience! It’s a process that takes time, but one that is definitely worth the wait. 😉

Math secrets of the bee nest

swarm of bees

Photo by mostafa eissa on Pexels.com

When we talk about great architecture, the first image that comes to mind is probably that of a beautiful man-made building or structure. But do you know that one of the most amazing structures with a very, very clever architecture can be found in the animal kingdom?

وَاَوۡحٰى رَبُّكَ اِلَى النَّحۡلِ اَنِ اتَّخِذِىۡ مِنَ الۡجِبَالِ بُيُوۡتًا وَّمِنَ الشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعۡرِشُوۡنَۙ‏

(Your Lord inspired the bee, saying, “Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees, and in that which they construct.”) – An-Nahl, 68

Allah SWT has guided the bee, with its amazing skills and faculties, to set up houses in the mountains, trees, and structures built by man. It is, therefore, no surprise that the bee nest construction is so precise. The internal structure of the nest is made up of solid hexagonal cells tightly linked together –  what we call the honeycomb, made from beeswax. These cells serve two main functions: as storage cells to store food (i.e. honey and pollen) and as brood cells to house their young.

Here’s a fun geometry fact: A scholar during the time of ancient Rome named Marcus Terentius Varro studied the intricate structure of the honeycomb. He wrote about its efficiency, because the repeated hexagonal pattern of the comb required the least amount of wax to build the walls. This later became known as “the honeycomb conjecture“, which was eventually proven in 1999 by mathematician Thomas C. Hales. 

This makes so much sense because producing wax is hard work for the bees!

To help kids appreciate this concept further, I would recommend this fun worksheet from Science Friday to let them investigate how the hexagonal shared cell walls can affect the amount of wax needed to build the honeycomb.

This is also a perfect opportunity to learn about tessellation. Tessellation is the use of repeated shapes to cover a surface, without any gaps or overlaps. In other words, it’s a pattern of shapes where they all fit perfectly next to each other. Can your children identify what shapes are able to tessellate? They can even create their very own tessellation artwork using those shapes!

Verse 68 of Surah An-Nahl shows that just like how everything in the universe takes place in accordance with Allah’s command and by His guidance, it is by no accident that the bee nest is built with such remarkable precision and engineering to serve its functions and purpose wonderfully.

Happy learning!

 

The amazing balance in the human body

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From the beautiful blue sky to the magnificent mountains, and the drops of rain to the vast ocean, it’s just impossible to not see the beauty and perfection in Allah’s creation all around us.

But actually, we don’t even have to look very far to realize this – the human anatomy itself is a perfect example of the miraculous precision, balance, and beauty in Allah’s creation! Let’s take a closer look at this concept of balance. There’s a beautiful gem in Surah Al-Infitar that tells us about this, and it would be great if we can explore this further with our children as it demonstrates the amazing perfection in the way that Allah has created us, humans.

In Surah Al-Infitar, verses 6-8, Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ

(O mankind, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous)

الَّذِي خَلَقَكَ فَسَوَّاكَ فَعَدَلَكَ

(Who created you, proportioned you, and balanced you?)

فِي أَيِّ صُورَةٍ مَّا شَاء رَكَّبَكَ

(In whatever form He willed has He assembled you.)

The human body constitutes several important systems. The interaction of these specialized systems and mechanisms is what maintains the body’s balance and stability that allows us to function properly. For instance, if we look at the endocrine system, the release of hormones helps in regulating our blood pressure and volume. Energy balance is another example. The two hormones grehlin and leptin (also known as “hunger hormones”) regulate our appetite and intake of food and nutrition, which play a major role in energy balance. Likewise, other systems interact to regulate body temperature as well as maintain blood flow and acid balance. This optimal state of the physical, internal, and chemical elements that maintain balance and equilibrium is known as homeostasis.

Isn’t it amazing that Allah SWT mentions specifically about this proportion and balance in the Quran? These are all signs for us to reflect upon, yet it’s easy for us to overlook these miracles and take our body and health for granted.

This is a great opportunity for us to connect these verses from Surah al-Infitar with biology lessons. Have a look at some of these ideas and resources that might help you:

  • Make a “Human Body Lapbook” to introduce your children to different concepts in anatomy. A lapbook is a great way for kids to record key concepts and information that they have learned. This is especially ideal for younger kids, but some older kids find them fun as well. The best way is to create it from scratch, but Rahmah Muslim Homeschool offers a Human Body lapbook that you can download as well!
  • Choose one topic (e.g. the brain, the heart) and create 3D art model at home based on this topic. Children can choose different materials to construct these models. Let them be creative! You can also check out some awesome anatomy craft ideas from The Crafty Classroom.
  • For older children who like something more interactive, Healthline.com’s Human Body Map is also a good resource where kids can visually learn about the different parts in the different layers of the human body.
  • Last but not least, encourage them to practice reading the supplication for good health as practiced by Rasulullah SAW:

    اللَّهُمَّ عَافِنِي فِي بَدَنِي اللَّهُمَّ عَافِنِي فِي سَمْعِي اللَّهُمَّ عَافِنِي فِي بَصَرِي لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ

    (O Allah, grant me health in my body. O Allah, grant me good hearing. O Allah, grant me good eyesight. There is no God but You.)

The more we learn about the human body and its systems, the better we realize the great precision and details that Allah SWT has created us with. Hope you will have fun with the above activities and resources, happy learning!

 

When Allah speaks about camels…

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Learning about animals and all the cool facts around them has never failed to fascinate children. One day just doesn’t seem enough to learn about one type of animal!

Anyway,  last night there was this TV documentary about the Mongolian nomads and one scene featured the two-humped Bactrian camels that are commonly found in that region. The kids found it pretty interesting as the camels look a bit different than the “typical” camel that they know, the dromedary kind. So this gave me the perfect idea for a Quranic gem – a Quran verse about camels! Allah talks about this amazing animal in verse 17 of Surah Al-Ghaashiyah, where He says:

أَفَلَا يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

“Do they not look at the camels, how they are created?” (Al-Ghaashiyah: 17)

The fact that Allah presents this verse to us in such a way shows that camels are indeed a special type of animal. But what makes these mammals so special?

Allah SWT has created the camel with unique characteristics that enable them to survive a harsh, severe climate. From their feet structure that helps them to have a firm grasp of the ground, to the humps that act as reservoirs for fatty tissue, to their oval-shaped red blood cells that can facilitate blood flow in a dehydrated state, every single part of the camel is created in such a specific, purposeful fashion that shows the excellence of the Almighty Creator, subhanAllah.

I can probably go on and on with so many incredible facts about this fascinating mammal, but I suppose it would be more fun for you to do a mini-research project or some activities at home with your children to explore the topic further! 😃

Here are some ideas:

  • Explore the similarities and differences between dromedary and Bactrian camels. What biological family do camels belong to?
  • There are more than 100 Arabic words for the word “camel”. It would be fun to find out what some of these words are! Are there other languages with different words for “camel”?
  • After learning about the wonderful characteristics of the camel from a scientific perspective, read the story of Prophet Saalih a.s, the people of Thamud, and the she-camel. You can never go wrong with stories.😁
  • If your kids are anything like my eldest, who absolutely loves geography, another interesting activity would be to print out a world map and let them mark a region/country on the map where different types of camels can be found. Which region/country are they native to?

Happy exploring!

 

 

Ask, and He will give!

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Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh dear readers!

I know it has been a while since this I posted a gem on this blog, for the most part due to some other commitments. But alhamdulillah, this blessed month, Allah SWT has granted me the opportunity to continue to share with you more gems from the Quran that I hope will benefit us all, inshaAllah. I sincerely pray that we parents can reap more reward during this blessed month by teaching the gems shared on this blog to our children. Ameen.

So we have just entered the second week of Ramadan (oh how time flies!), and this wonderful month, as many already know, is the month of worship. One very important essence of worship is du’a, or supplication. As we teach our children the importance of fasting, we should also not forget to instill in them the love and eagerness in making du’a to Allah SWT.

Today’s chosen gem is from Surah Al-Ghaafir, verse 60:

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ٱدْعُونِىٓ أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ

[And your Lord says: “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.”]

Let your child think about something good that they really, really want to have. Then tell them, do they know that Allah SWT can give what they ask for, and even much, much, more than that? Yes! Allah SWT tells us in the above verse that we should ask from Him, and He answers the du’a of those who ask from Him.

Allah SWT also mentions in Surah al- Baqarah, verse 186, that indeed He is near and He responds to our supplication when we call upon Him. It is important that we make children realize and be aware that although we can’t see Allah, He is always there, and He always listens. People may get annoyed when we ask them something, especially if we do it too often. Sometimes they make us sad and disappointed. But see, Allah loves us so, so, much that He even loves when we ask from Him! Subhanallah how awesome is that?

Now, here are a few things we can do to further encourage children to learn about the power of du’a and make them more aware of the importance of du’a in their lives:

  • Share some amazing stories about du’a, for instance the du’a of Prophet Yunus a.s. They will love the story of the whale! 😊
  • Make a set of du’a cards together. Choose one du’a to write on each card. Encourage your children to memorize each du’a, and read them regularly.
  • As we are now in the month of Ramadan, ask your child to start memorizing the best du’a to read in the last 10 nights: اَللَّهُمَّ اِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ ، تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي

Our days are filled with so many opportunities to make du’a. So don’t forget to use every opportunity we have to remind our children about supplicating to Allah – when it’s raining, when you’re traveling, before breaking the fast, etc. May Allah SWT accept our sincere du’a this blessed month. Ameen!

 

Sunrise and Sunset: What You Might Not Know

Image Credit: AlanC (Morguefile.com)

One of the greatest things about reading and understanding the Quran is that it contains so many less-known facts that not just children, but even grown-ups are probably not aware of. The Quranic gem that we will explore with our children today is about one of those fascinating facts.

Is everyone ready for today’s gem? Awesome! Bismillaah 🙂

Okay, so we all know that the sun rises in the east, and sets in the west, right?

When children learn about this however, they might imagine that there’s one fixed point in the east where the sun always rises, and another fixed point in the west where it always sets. But guess what? That’s actually not the case! At least, not everyday.

Allah has mentioned this wondrous fact in Surah no. 70 in the Quran, Surah Al-Ma’aarij:

So I swear by the Lord of the easts and the wests that indeed We are able.” (Surah Al-Ma’aarij: 40)

So what do these “easts” and “wests” exactly mean? How can there be more than one east and more than one west?

Now this is where it gets interesting.

Here’s how it works. There is one point in the east referred to as “due east” and another point in the west known as “due west”.  I would use the term “real east” and “real west” when explaining this to children for easy understanding.

But do you know that there are only two days in one year that the sun actually rises in the “real east” and sets in the “real west”? These days are known as the “equinox”.

On other days, the points where the sun rises and sets change slightly! This means that the sun can rise a little north or a little south to “due east” and sets a little north or a little south of “due west”. So the “easts” and “wests” that Allah talks about in the above verse of Surah Al-Ma’aarij refer to these different points that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west each day.

[Note: There are different reading materials and websites that discuss this in detail, but for younger kids, I think it’s sufficient to understand the fact that there are different points at which the sun rises and sets every day.]

In some places, this phenomenon can be seen more clearly than in other places. The people who live in these places can actually notice the different points that the sun rises/sets each day, especially in higher places. Amazing isn’t it? SubhaanAllah.

Now here’s what you can do with your kids to explore more about this interesting phenomenon:

The Astronomy Magazine has suggested one interesting activity to observe the changing position of the Sun. Click here to check it out. The phenomenon would be more clear if the period is observation is longer (several weeks or months, for instance).

Make sure to take safety measures such as not to look directly at the sun, and choose a safe place as your observation spot!

Happy learning!

Let The Stars Show You The Way!

Image Credit: kamuelaboy (Morguefile.com)

Assalaamu’alaikum dear readers!

Hope everyone had a fun, wonderful Eid with your loved ones :). I know we’re all missing Ramadan dearly, so may Allah ‘azza wa jall grant us the patience and persistence to continue doing the good deeds we did during Ramadan.

Alhamdulillah, after quite a long break, Gems for Juniors is now back with our precious (and I hope long-awaited!) Quranic gems.

Before we get into our Quranic gem, let me ask you this: do you like traveling?

I don’t know about you, but I think part of the fun when traveling is searching for directions – figuring out where we are, learning about the route we’re taking, and knowing the exact location of our destination (and, well…maybe getting lost along the way, once in a while?).

Nowadays, technology has made finding direction to your destination a breeze. Even small children know how GPS technology works. But here’s something to ponder upon the next time you and your family go on a trip: have you ever thought about how people in the past, many many centuries ago, find their direction? Or, what happened when they got lost in the dark? Not only there was no GPS, but there were no compasses or maps to guide them!

It is He Who has made the stars for you, that you may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea. We detail Our signs for people who think.” (Al-An’aam:97)

Long, long ago, travelers on land and on sea relied on stars to know where they were and where they were going, by using certain measurement techniques. That was how they avoided getting lost in the huge desert or in the middle of the ocean. This method is known as “celestial navigation”. It was mostly used by sailors.

A “constellation” is a group of stars that appear to form a certain pattern in the sky. Recognizing these patterns make it easier to spot the stars and use them for navigation. One star that is often used as a reference point is Polaris, also known as the North Star.(You will find a link below that you can refer to for further reading on this topic.)

Try to spend some time with your children to ponder and reflect on the above Quran verse. Let them realize that the amazing beauty they see in the sky is none other than Allah’s brilliant design. Allah, Al-Musawwir, is the One that gives the shape and beauty in His creation.

Activities:

  • Encourage children to develop a habit of saying “Subhaanallah” to express their awe when looking at Allah’s creation.
  • Learn about one of the beautiful Names of Allah, Al-Musawwir. Find out what it means and the lessons that we can learn from this particular name of Allah. Relate it with what your children have previously learned about stars and other objects in the sky.
  • Choose a night to do star gazing with your family.  Observe the sky and see it moving! You don’t even need expensive stargazing equipment to do this.
  • Print a sky map (available at http://www.kidsastronomy.com/astroskymap/constellations.htm) and put it up on the wall in the children’s room or the study.
  • Explore the history of navigation in detail here. The page details the background of navigation, starting from the earliest method used until the invention of the Global Positioning System (GPS). I would recommend this reading for older kids.

Even with the advanced technology that is available today, navigating using the stars sure seems fun, don’t you think? Happy star-gazing!

You Don’t Want To Miss This

As we were eating our suhoor meal today morning, I realized how fast time flies. We’re on the 22nd day of Ramadan already. Subhaanallah.

Anyway, I hope the Ramadan mood is still alive and strong in our homes and among our families, inshaAllah :).

With all the hype and excitement about the Eid celebration and preparation, it’s easy to overlook the importance of these last days of Ramadan. If you find that you and your family are caught in the “Eid hype” too, don’t worry, there is more than a week left of Ramadan for us to cherish! And in these last 10 days, there’s one very, very special night that you really don’t want to miss.

It’s the Night of Qadr, or Laylatul Qadr.

Verily, We have sent it (the Quran) down in the Night of Decree. And what will make you know what the Night of Decree is? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Ruh (Jibreel) by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees. Peace! Until the appearance of dawn.” (Al-Qadr: 1-5)

A night that is better than a thousand months (yes, that’s more than 83 years!). What does this mean? Well, imagine, if we are blessed to perform ‘ibaadah on this night, the value is as if we’ve been engaged in that ‘ibaadah for 83 years!

If last Ramadan (and the previous ones, perhaps), we focused mainly on our own good deeds and ‘ibaadah (which is awesome mashaAllah) why not make it a little different this year? Why not, in addition to increasing our ‘ibaadah and good deeds, we invite our kids to share the excitement about Laylatul Qadr too?

I have explained Laylatul Qadr to my son since the beginning of Ramadan, so that he’s aware of how special it is, and that there’s something that we all look forward to every time Ramadan comes (in fact, just knowing how special Laylatul Qadr is, I wish my 2-year-old daughter understands it too!). Just as children are often excited that Eid is coming up, wouldn’t it be even better if they’re excited about this particular night too?

Just because our children can’t stay up all night doing ‘ibaadah (and realistically, we can’t expect them to), it doesn’t mean that we can’t make them understand the significance of this night and why Laylatul Qadr is something nobody would want to miss.

They’ll be thrilled just knowing that the angels are all around!

So, how do we know when is Laylatul Qadr?

Aisha r.a narrated: “Rasulullah SAW used to practice I’tikaaf in the last ten nights and say ‘Seek out Laylatul Qadr in the (odd nights) of the last ten days of Ramadhan’.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

Tell your kids that Laylatul Qadr is a really cool mystery! But we have a little clue on when it’s going to happen, based on what Rasulullah SAW told us in the above hadith. However, the most important thing is to make sure that we increase our good deeds every night of these last ten nights.

Build up the excitement around Laylatul Qadr during these last ten nights of Ramadan with the following activities:

  • Teach our children the following du’a: “Allaahumma innaka afuwwun, tuhibbul ‘afwa, fa’fu ‘annee” (Translation: Ya Allah, You are Forgiving and You love forgiveness, so forgive me). This is the supplication that Rasulullah SAW taught us to recite on Laylatul Qadr. Therefore we should recite this du’a especially during the last ten nights of Ramadan.
  • Memorize and read the tafseer of Surah Al-Qadr
  • Du’a List – Ask your children to make their own du’a list for these last 10 nights. Also, encourage them to make du’a for others. Let them list down the people that they want to make du’a for. Remember, one of the greatest things we can do is making sincere du’a for other people in their absence, and when we do, the angel will say “Ameen, may it be for you too.” How AWESOME is that!
  • I’tikaf@Home – Put up an indoor tent for the kids to “camp” in. This is a good way to introduce the concept of i’tikaf to our children. You can let them read the Quran and also keep books, their du’a list, blankets and snacks in the tent. Make it something exciting! InshaAllah, they will remember this experience when they grow up and are old enough to perform actual i’tikaf :).

May we all find this precious night of al-Qadr, may Allah grant us the opportunity to perform ‘ibaadah to our best capacity on this special night and may He forgive all of our sins, past and present. Ameen!

Give, and Get Much, Much More

I was just having a conversation with my 6-year-old earlier today about generosity and the act of giving to others.  He knows basically what giving sadaqah (charity) means, but I thought that since it’s Ramadan, and giving sadaqah is one of the greatest ‘ibaadah (act of worship) that we’re encouraged to do in this blessed month, it was a perfect time to discuss more about it with him.

Sadaqah is probably one of the simplest ‘ibaadah that we can explain and demonstrate to our children. They would usually understand when we tell them that we help the poor because they are in need of money, food, clothing etc.

But really, sadaqah would mean so much more to our children if they know that not only would they help others and make them happy, but Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala has promised bountiful rewards to those who give to others.

The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to who He pleases. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.

(Al- Baqarah: 261)

Read the above verse and its translation with your children and do a little math together :).

1 x 7 x 100 = 700!

Yes! That’s a 700 times reward for whatever you spend in the way of Allah. Allahu Akbar!

How do we give sadaqah?

O you who believe, you shall give to charity from the good things you earn, and from what we have produced for you from the earth. Do not pick out the bad therein to give away, when you yourselves do not accept it unless your eyes are closed.You should know that Allah is Rich, Praiseworthy.

(Al-Baqarah: 267)

The above verse contains a very important lesson for children.

We shouldn’t give others things are already bad, worn out, broken, or have any defects that we wouldn’t want to have for ourselves. Our children need to be taught this as well. So if they have toys to give away, for instance, ask them to choose the ones that are still good. If they want to give away some of their books, ask them to make sure the pages aren’t dirty, smudgy or torn. The same goes with clothes, blankets and others.

Remind them that the more beloved something is to them, the better it is when they can make other people happy by giving it away.

Who give to charity during ease and hardship, and who restrain anger and pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good.

(Ali-Imran: 134)

This is what I tried to emphasize to my son – that we don’t only give to others when we “have a lot of money” (because one time he said something like, “So when we have lots and lots of money we can help people!”). What and how much we give to others is based on what we can afford. Contrary to what many people think, we don’t have to be rich and wealthy to help others. Even when we ourselves are in a hard condition, there always has to be a way to give charity, no matter what it is and how small the amount.

Also, don’t forget to highlight the fact that Allah loves people who do good, as clearly mentioned in the above verse of Surah Ali-Imran.

Okay, how do we start? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sadaqah Jar/Box: Make a sadaqah jar or box at home and decorate it to make it look extra special. You can either make one for the entire family or let your child have their own sadaqah jar or box for them to put some cash or loose change inside. For Ramadan, maybe you can ask them to put in money each day and make it a goal to give as much sadaqa as they can. Check out this post to learn how to make an easy DIY Sadaqa Jar.
  • Choose one day to be a “Sadaqah Day”. You can do this weekly, bi-weekly, or as regular as you want, but let them consider that particular day a special day. On this day, you can take your children out to give donations to poor and homeless people, orphanages or even travelers if you meet them. These are the people to whom we are encouraged to give charity to. You can distribute water, dates, food, desserts – the list is endless!
  • “A Smile is Sadaqah” poster – When we talk about Sadaqah, our children would normally think about giving money and other material things to help people. We shouldn’t forget to teach them that Rasulullaah salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam told us that smiling is considered sadaqah too! So you can ask your children to make a poster that they can put up on the wall to remind them that smiling is sadaqah. Let them use their own creativity.
  • Read this hadith together:

Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Your smile to your brother is a sadaqah (charitable act) for you. Your commanding the right and forbidding the wrong is a sadaqah.  Your guiding a man in the land of misguidance is a sadaqah for you. Your seeing (showing the way) for a man with bad eyesight is a sadaqah for you. Your removing a stone or thorn or bone from the road is a sadaqah for you. Your emptying your bucket of water into your brother’s (empty) bucket is a sadaqah for you.”  

[Tirmidhi]

This hadith helps to make it clear to our children that sadaqah is not just limited to giving money to help people, but can also be done in other ways.

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Don’t forget to make lots and lots of du’a that our children will be among those who love to help people, and inshaAllah, they will realize that a small act of kindness goes a long way. May Allah accept their sadaqah as well as ours, ameen!