The Best Book Ever!

Wow, subhaanAllah how time flies. We’re about to enter the second week of the blessed month of Ramadan already! I just feel like it started yesterday. Anyway, hopefully everyone’s momentum is still as high as it was on the first day and may Allah make it easy for us to perform our best in our ‘ibaadah and encourage our children to do the same, ameen!

The month of Ramadan is almost synonymous to the Quran. It’s the time of the year where you can see Quran reading/study circles and halaqahs everywhere, mashaAllah. As parents, we shouldn’t lose the advantage of this month to get our children to build a closer, stronger relationship with the Quran.

But why is this extra important, especially in Ramadan?

Well, let’s look at our next Quranic gem, taken from Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 185.

The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion…” (Al-Baqarah:185)

It’s definitely important to teach our kids that the Quran is a very, very special book, but it’s also important to give them a background about the revelation of the Quran. This would help them see why the Quran is really special, that it is the Word of Allah, and unlike a normal book, the Quran is not written by a human being. Since Ramadan IS the month in which the Quran was first revealed, it’s the perfect time to teach our children about its revelation.

Let’s begin with some basic information that we can explain to our children:

When was the Quran revealed?

The Quran was revealed on the 17th of Ramadan, 13 years before Rasulullah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam migrated to Madinah. So besides the fact that Muslims fast during this month, this is another reason why the month of Ramadan is very special to us.

Where was the Quran first revealed?

The first verses of the Quran was revealed when Rasululullah SAW was inside the Cave of Hira’.

How was the Quran revealed?

Allah revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammad SAW through his angel, Jibreel ‘alayhissalaam. The Quran was not sent to the Prophet all at once, instead it was sent in parts over a period of 23 years.

What were the first verses revealed to the Prophet?

The first verses are from Surah Al-‘Alaq (the 96th chapter of the Quran), verses 1 to 5 (read these verses and their translation with your children). The entire Quran consists of 114 chapters/surahs.

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Okay, now how about going over a few facts about how AWESOME the Quran is? Let’s amaze our kids. 😉

  • The Quran contains so many amazing facts and information that humans only discovered much, much later. Check out some of these facts in our previous gems!
  • Allah ‘azza wa jall says that the Quran will be protected until the Day of Judgment. This means that the message in the Quran can never be corrupted or altered.
  • The Quran will intercede for people who recite it on the Day of Judgment. (Another reason why we should read Quran more!)
  • The Quran contains many stories of the prophets as well as people who lived in the earlier times. These stories have many great lessons for us to learn from.
  • Reading each letter of the Quran rewards us with 10 hasanaat. Imagine how much hasanaat we can gain if we read Quran every single day!
  • It’s the only book/scripture that has been memorized by millions of people. There are millions of huffaadh (people who have memorized the Quran) all over the world!

Isn’t that just amazing? Now, let me share a few Quran-themed activities that you can engage your kids in.

  • Set an “Iqra’ Time” where your children can read a few verses from the Quran with you every day. Ramadan is a great time to start (if you haven’t already), but this should also be a continuous activity outside Ramadan as well.
  • Quranic Gems Jar – Write a lesson/gem from selected Quranic verses on different slips of paper and place them in a jar. Ask your children to pick out a slip each day and discuss about it together. Talk about how they can implement that particular lesson in their lives.
  • Choose a story from the Quran and make an art/craft piece based on it. For instance, if you choose the story of Prophet Nuh ‘alayhissalaam, you can ask your kids to build an ark from manila paper, kraft paper or popsicle sticks. If you choose the story of the people of the cave (Surah Al-Kahf), you can ask them to build a cave using clay or Play-Doh. As usual, be creative! 🙂
  • As part of their Ramadan goal, encourage your children to aim to memorize at least one or two surahs this Ramadan.

Hopefully our children will develop a strong bond with the Quran starting this Ramadan and may it continue in the future, inshaAllah. Stay tuned for the next Ramadan Special Quranic Gem!

Our Blessed Guest Is Here!

Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

Alhamdulillah, the month that we’ve all been waiting for is here. Subhaanallah, isn’t it amazing how the entire atmosphere feels so beautiful and different when it’s Ramadan?

My son and I had been doing a Ramadan count down since a week before Ramadan. I could see that it really helped to build the anticipation and excitement in him, Alhamdulillah.

So, for our first Ramadan Special Quranic Gem, we’ll start with the ayah in Surah Al-Baqarah that I think sums up the act of fasting:

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may become righteous.” (Al-Baqarah: 183).

This is a very well-known verse among the Muslims whenever we talk about Ramadan and fasting. For children, this verse contains a very significant point: the reason why Muslims have to fast in the first place.

If you haven’t explored the 5 Pillars of Islam with your children, this is a great time to start. It’s definitely easier when they begin to understand that fasting is one of these five pillars. Just like how a pillar is very important to support a building, fasting is also very important in Islam.

In the above verse, Allah tells us that we are asked to fast so that we can attain righteousness.

Now righteousness, or “taqwa” in Arabic, isn’t the easiest concept to explain to children. But one easy way to explain this is to tell our children that taqwa is about being aware of what Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala asks us to do, as well as forbids us to do.

One of the ways I try to teach my son about this concept is by emphasizing the fact that Allah knows and sees everything that we do all the time, no matter where we are, and even if no one else sees us. That is why as a Muslim, we should always think about doing things that please Allah, and fasting is one of them.

For the beginning of Ramadan, let’s look at a few activities that we can do to familiarize our children with this blessed month.

  1. Pillars of Islam Art. I found this wonderful idea to teach my son about the 5 Pillars of Islam a few years back. You can work on this together with your kids!
  2. Learn more about moon sighting from this very interesting video. I think it’s a great, entertaining way to introduce our children to moon sighting. (My kids love Zaky videos, by the way!)
  3. “My Ramadan Vocabulary List”. There are terms that we often associate with Ramadan that might be new to our children, such as Iftar, Suhoor, Taraweeh, Laylatul Qadr, Qiyaam and Zakaat for instance. Ask your children to make a special vocab list this Ramadan and write down the meaning of each of these terms.
  4. Ramadan Mind Map. Mind mapping is a great learning tool for all ages. Build a mind map with your children. Include things such as the time of fasting, benefits of fasting, good deeds during Ramadan, etc. Encourage them to use their creativity. Let them include pictures, stickers, or anything else to make their mind map more attractive.

Enjoy these activities, have a blessed Ramadan and don’t forget to stay tuned for our next Ramadan Special Quranic Gem!

The White Cotton Candy In the Sky

I think one of the most fascinating sights in nature is the sight of clouds. This, when coupled with a child’s creative imagination, can actually get even more interesting. Children often give “names” to the clouds – this one looks like a teddy bear, that one looks like a dinosaur and oh, that one over there looks like a car! (The one in the above picture looks like a duck, I think!)

As they continue to be amazed at the fascinating sight of that beautiful white cotton candy in the sky, ask your children this: have you ever wondered how that “teddy bear”, “dinosaur” or “car” is formed?

Well, guess what? The answer is in the Quran!

Allah tells us about the formation of cloud in Surah An-Nur, where He says:

“Do you not see that Allah drives the clouds? Then He joins them together, then He makes them into a mass, and you see the rain emerge from within it…” (An-Nur:43)

Meteorologists (scientists who study the atmosphere) have actually studied the formation of clouds and the studies have proven this fact. For example, the cumulonimbus cloud (one type of cloud that brings rain) is formed through a few steps, until it eventually produces rain:

  • The wind drives small pieces of clouds from different areas to an area where these small pieces meet.
  • When these small pieces of clouds meet, they join together and start forming a larger cloud.
  • Then, they start “stacking up” and this larger piece of cloud will grow bigger and higher. As the cloud stack up higher and higher, it will reach a cooler area in the atmosphere and this is where drops of water start to form. The cloud eventually becomes heavier and the water will fall from the cloud as rain.

(By the way, if you missed the post about rain, you can read it here.)

Subhanallah, how amazing is that!

So that teddy bear, flower, cat or ice-cream cloud doesn’t pop out in the sky just like that. 🙂

It’s actually the wind that Allah has sent that pushes small pieces of cloud together and causes them to form all those different, interesting shapes!

Okay, now let’s look at some fun activities that you and your children can work on together:

  • Read about the different types of cloud here. Make a few columns on a piece of paper (one for each type of cloud) and ask your children to list down the characteristics of each type. See if they can identify them when they see the clouds outside.
  • “Cloud Blowing” activity: This will help demonstrate how wind drives the cloud from one place to another. Put a few pieces of cotton balls at different spots on the table. These will be your small pieces of cloud. Ask your child to blow these small pieces of cotton ball (you can use drinking straws to do this) to make them join together and form a larger “cloud”.
  • Cotton Clouds on Blue Sky Art: You will need a piece of blue paper, cotton balls and glue to do this. Ask your children to put glue on the paper and group the cotton balls together to form different shapes to represent the different types of clouds that they have read in step (1). Ask them to label each type.
  • Yummy Clouds – As the final activity, enjoy yummy halal marshmallows for snack time! 🙂

“I Want to Have It, Too!”

It’s normal for children to go through a stage at some time in their lives when they become more conscious about their surroundings, especially when it concerns their peers. This often happens when they reach pre-school stage and mix with other kids their age, and when they talk to each other about different things. In most cases, this continues as they grow older.

You might have heard things like “Mom, my friend just bought this very cool video game! I want to have it too!” or “My friend came to school with a new backpack today! It would be so cool to have one like that.”  Now the challenge for us, parents, is to teach our children about the importance of being grateful for what they already have – which is not limited to material things – and avoid obsessing about those that they don’t have (although other people might have them).

Gratitude is a tricky subject to teach to our children, especially when they are still young. However, this is also a perfect time to start teaching this concept to them since kids typically have excellent memory maashaAllah and what you teach them at this age would stick in their minds until they grow up, inshaaAllah.

Let’s look at our precious gems from the Quran that we can use to teach our children about the concept of gratitude:

If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah An-Nahl: 18)

…Worship Allah and be among the thankful.” (Surah Az-Zumar: 66)

There are numerous ways to teach kids about the concept of shukr or gratitude. Start by opening the Quran and reading the two verses above along with the translation. In addition, stories from the lives of the prophets are full of lessons about gratitude that our children can learn from.

There also many kinds of activities that we can do to engage our children. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  • Teach your children the meaning of “Alhamdulillah” and the importance of saying it every day.
  • Encourage them to develop a habit of making du’a daily (before and after eating, before sleeping and upon waking up, after rainfall, etc.)
  • Teach them the importance of sadaqah. Ramadan is coming very soon, so it’s the perfect time to demonstrate this concept to them.
  • Choose one day to take your kids to pay a visit to an orphanage. Let your children observe closely how they live and play, and you can also organize activities that they can participate in. Talk about how they’re very lucky to have parents and they should be grateful to Allah because of this. Also, remind your children that Rasulullah SAW was an orphan too and teach them the importance of loving and caring for orphans.
  • Start a “Shukr (Gratitude) Tree” Project at home. Draw (or print) a picture of a tree on a large piece of paper (drawing block size or bigger). Every day, we can ask our kids to write something that they are grateful for on a piece of colored sticker/post-it note and stick it on the tree (I personally like round shaped stickers because they would look like fruits on the tree J). Watch the fruits grow more and more! Remind your children about what Allah has said about the countless blessings in the above verse (verse 18 of Surah An-Nahl).