This post is most suitable for children aged 10 and below.
The month of Ramadhan is a big deal for adult Muslims. We spend the days before the month planning and getting ready for all the acts of worship that we want to do in Ramadhan. Many times, we may not carry the children along in this preparation, especially when it is spiritual. The children may join us to spring-clean the house or cook food in bulk, but not join us to plan our ibaadah.
If you are planning to encourage your child to fast in Ramadhan, it’s better to prepare them spiritually so that they can understand the purpose of Ramadhan and be more eager to participate. Here are a few things you can do to help children spiritually prepare for Ramadhan.
Talk to Them About Ramadhan
The best thing you can start with when helping children engage in an act of worship is to talk to them about it. When we talk about an act before encouraging them to do it, we give them knowledge of the act and help them understand their religion better. This is a far more effective approach to teaching children about Islam.
With Ramadhan, here are a few points you can talk about as background knowledge:
- What Ramadhan is (9th month of the Islamic calendar, the month of fasting, etc.)
- Why Muslims fast in Ramadhan
- The times of fasting (dawn to dusk)
- The rewards for fasting
- The things that nullify your fast
- The things that are not permissible during Ramadhan
- How Ramadhan started in Islamic history
- Notable events that happen(ed) during Ramadhan (eg. The revelation of the Qur’aan and Laylatul Qadr)
You can talk about this with your existing knowledge as an adult, with online lectures or through storybooks. The idea is for the child to have an understanding of why we fast.
Encourage Them To Fast A Few Days in Sha’aban
To prepare them for the hours of fasting during Ramadhan, you can encourage them to fast for a few days or hours in Sha’aban. This is like training their stomachs to get familiar with not eating for a few hours, such that when Ramadhan comes, the hours of fasting is not a shock to their system. You can do this for any child, whether this is their first time fasting or not.
Encourage Them To Do Good Deeds
As part of their training for Ramadhan, encourage the child to do good deeds in the month or days before Ramadhan. This is something that adults do, right from the time of the Sahabahs. We try to pray more, give charity, or engage in the remembrance of Allah (SWT). This is something that we can encourage the children to do as we help them spiritually prepare for Ramadhan. A few good deeds that you can encourage them to do:
- Give charity (even if it’s to their siblings or friends)
- Do the morning and evening adhkar
- Remember Allah (SWT) and praise Him during the day
- Pray extra nawafil salah
- Read a few verses of the Qur’aan daily
- Help around the house
- Help a friend at school
Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother (Muslim) with a cheerful face”. (Muslim)
Encourage Them To Read The Qur’aan
Ramadhan is the month of the Qur’aan and as adults, we put special focus on reading more of the Qur’aan during this month. Help your child prepare spiritually for Ramadhan by encouraging them to read it during the days of Sha’ban. This can be reading as little as three verses every day at a specific time. You can make it more fun for them by reading the verses together, or by you reading to them while they listen.
Ibn Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.” (At- Tirmidhi)
Get Them To Sleep Early
Ramadhan alters our sleep schedule because we pray Tarawih salah after Isha’ and wake up for Sahur before the Fajr salah. To help children prepare for this change, you can adjust their sleeping schedule in the weeks before Ramadhan. You can get them into bed immediately after the Isha’ salah instead of letting them play one more game or just generally play around the house. When they sleep early, in sha’a Allah, it becomes easier to wake them early for sahur and they will not be sleep deprived.
Narrated Al-Aswad: I asked `Aisha “How is the night prayer of the Prophet?” She replied, “He used to sleep early at night, and get up in its last part to pray, and then return to his bed. When the Mu’adh-dhin pronounced the Adhan, he would get up. If he was in need of a bath he would take it; otherwise he would perform ablution and then go out (for the prayer).” (Bukhari)
Ask Them To Write A Personal Dua List
If you’ve talked to them about the essence of Ramadhan, they now know that it’s of the month of dua, of increasing our prayers to Allah (SWT). To help them prepare spiritually, ask them to write down the duas that they want to make during Ramadhan. This helps them look forward to asking Allah (SWT) for something and brings them closer to Him (SWT). It also reinforces the belief that He is the only One that we ask.
To help them write the duas, you can give them a few prompts like:
- What do you want most from Allah (SWT) right now?
- What would you like Allah (SWT) to do for you and us (the family)?
- What would you like Allah (SWT) to do for everyone that you know and everyone in the world?
- What do you want from Allah (SWT) in the future?
- What would you like to ask Him to give you in heaven?
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ٱدْعُونِىٓ أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِى سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
“Your Lord has proclaimed, “Call upon Me, I will respond to you. Surely those who are too proud to worship Me will enter Hell, fully humbled.” — Dr Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran (Qur’aan 40:60)
Make Dhikr With Them Often
Dhikr is the remembrance of Allah (SWT) and it is one of the best ways to be in a spiritual state. It keeps us conscious of Allah (SWT). As we prepare for the spiritual tasks in Ramadhan, make dhikr with the children so that they experience this consciousness too. It could be after you’ve prayed salah together and everyone stays on their mats, doing their dhikr individually.
A Beneficial Dhikr: سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ الْعَظِيمِ
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that :
the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Two words which are light on the tongue and heavy in the Balance, and beloved to the Most Merciful: Subhan-Allah wa bi hamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-‘Azim (Glory and praise is to Allah, glory is to Allah the Almighty).” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Pray In The Masjid
More people pray in congregation at the Masjid during Ramadhan, than they do at other times of the year. Before Ramadhan begins, it’s a good idea to take the kids to pray at the Masjid, especially if they weren’t going before, so that they can get used to the experience of praying in the congregation and standing for longer recitation before Ramadhan arrives.
This will also help them learn the etiquettes of praying in the Masjid, like where to keep their things, keeping quiet, forming straight rows, etc. before the Masjid becomes fuller during Ramadhan.
It was narrated from that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Prayer in congregation is twenty-five levels better than a prayer offered on one’s own.” (Sunan An-Nasa’i)
Help Them Make A List Of Ibaadah For Ramadhan
Now that they’re practising doing more acts of worship, encourage them to write down the ibaadah that they would like to din Ramadhan. Just like adults, children can’t do every act of worship possible in Ramadhan. By having a list, they can focus on the acts that they love or are easy for them to do. To help them pick their ibaadah, you can ask a question like “which ibaadah will you like to do every day of Ramadhan?”
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best of deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Ask Them To Make Dua To Witness Ramadhan
It’s part of spiritually preparing for Ramadhan to make dua that Allah (SWT) grants us life to witness the month. Encourage the children to make dua to witness Ramadhan and this will even increase their anticipation for the month, in sha’a Allah.