Ramadan with Zaky & Friends…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

The latest release from One4Kids and a welcomed addition to our collection of Zaky DVDs is Zaky’s Ramadan. We’ve been listening to the Nasheeds for a few months and added the dvd to our pre-Ramadan stock-up for the kids.

As a big fan of the Zaky franchise myself, I was just as excited to check out the new release with the kids this Ramadan. So after mum had a rough night with kids last night, this morning was the perfect opportunity to take care of the kids, watch a movie and hopefully score some brownie points too.

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Zaky’s Ramadan is a good way to get kids excited about Ramadan and provides a simple, kid-friendly explanation of all things Ramadan. It’s a good introduction to the concept of Fasting, Suhoor, Iftar and the virtue of the month itself.

The Ramadan episodes cover a range of topics including:

  • Ramadan Moon Sighting
  • Doing Good Deeds
  • Suhoor & Tahajjud
  • Being Dutiful & Kind to our Parents
  • Breaking our Fast
  • Breaking our Fast
  • Cleanliness is One Half of our Faith
  • Zaky’s Advice for Ramadan
  • Helping & Feeding the Needy & Poor
  • Health & Nutrition

Zaky’s advice for Ramadan is very practical and covers more than simply when you can and can’t eat. By focussing on the concept of Good Deeds including kindness to parents, cleanliness, charity and well-being, it provides a more holistic approach to Ramadan which I think is something we need to encourage through kids education.

Too many Muslims make Ramadan about Food and Fasting only which is a great injustice to this Blessed month and gift from Allah. By facilitating a more reformist approach, we can encourage our kids to use Ramadan as an opportunity to form good habits, become better Muslims and ultimately achieve the real goal of Ramadan… the awareness and consciousness of Allah that can guide you through the rest of the year. In Sha Allah.

A $20 investment that will entertain the kids for hours and In Sha Allah encourage good habits and a love for Ramadan. Two thumbs up from me!

The DVD is available online at One4Kids as well as a number of other websites. Click here for a preview of Zaky’s Ramadan and check out my post on Zaky & Friends from last Ramadan.

Tip: Don’t just buy these movies for the kids, watch it with them, answer their questions and let Islamic knowledge be a positive experience for them. You might even learn something yourself.

I hope many more kids can benefit from these movies In Sha Allah!

Assalaamu Alaikum!

The first ‘Amaanah’…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful. 

As a young father, I recall the feeling of maturity and a sense of responsibility at the birth of our 2 kids. It’s a scary yet amazing emotion I experienced when I held my son for the first time almost 4 years ago. The emotion was even more intense and brought me to tears at the birth of our daughter earlier this year. The father-daughter relationship is probably the best understanding of the concept of ‘Amaanah’. 

I was reminded at Jumuah this week of another Amaanah… One that we often take for granted and can so easily forget. A man’s first Amaanah… He’s wife! 

As the Imam spoke out against violence against women, he emphasized the fact that when we marry our wives, they too are a trust from their parents and indeed from the Almighty. 

Marriage moves quickly from the honeymoon period into the daily grind and though children often remind you of a trust we have with the Almighty, it’s not fair to simply overlook our first Amaanah. 

It’s only when you realize the importance of the relationship with your wife can you truly appreciate the value of her as the mother of your children and the means through which Allah has entrusted you with so much more. 

Something very often neglected. A reminder to myself before anyone. Our wives were and remain entrusted to us… This is something we need to remember! 

I pray that our wives too, are the coolness of our eyes.

10 tips to get your child to pray with you… In Sha Allah!

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

As I watched my almost 4 year old son pray at Jumuah today, I found myself reminiscing over the memories of him lying helpless on the prayer mat as I prayed beside him when he was only a few weeks old. I can’t believe it was the same kid standing beside me today.

Though the requirement to perform Salaah is only incumbent on kids at a later stage, it makes me proud to see him show such enthusiasm and respect for what is such an integral part of our faith and indeed our lives.

It might be easier to put off Salaah until kids are older, but the best habits are formed early in their childhood development, why not make Salaah one of them.

After 4 years of hands-on experience and 1 amazing wife at my side, this is what I have learnt. My 10 tips to getting your kids to pray with you…

  1. Pray with them, make it a habit of praying in front of them when ever possible – I started praying with my son beside me when he was a month old.
  2. Don’t make Salaah a chore – Allow them to witness the joy and peace you experience through Salaah.
  3. Play with them before/after you pray – let the prayer room/area/rug be a place of comfort for them too.
  4. Don’t be quick to pack up the prayer mat -leave it out for the kids to explore.
  5. Pray together, pray as a family – Let Salaah also becomes an activity the whole family can participate in and benefit from.
  6. Answer their questions, talk about Salaah and feed their curiosity – they’ll be emulating your actions in no time.
  7. Let them know when it’s time to pray – make room for them beside you in case they decide to join in.
  8. Entice them with a little kids prayer mat – make it fun and interesting.
  9. Visit the mosque with them – this can sometimes be tricky but I’ll leave it for another post In Sha Allah.
  10. Lots and lots of praise – acknowledge and praise their efforts! I recall my wife constantly questioning me about whether or not I praised our son when he prayed with me. And you can’t argue with wifey wisdom!

It’s not rocket science, but we often take these things for granted. It’s a matter of priorities and lots of patience. I need to test this strategy on our daughter now!

I pray that our children are the coolness of our eyes In Sha Allah.

A perpetual Eid gift…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

A few months back I met an Arab shop owner who after asking me what my son’s name and age was, questioned whether he could recite Surah Al-Fatiha. I responded in the negative and asked that he make dua for him. I was concerned because he first asked about his age which implied that he expected a 3-year-old to have memorized the Surah already.
It got me thinking about the best way to introduce this to my son who’s only memorisation of Arabic thus far was basic Adhkar and the dua before going to bed. Surah Al-Fatiha seemed like a challenge in comparison.
I remembered how easy it was as a child, to memories the surah’s that were often repeated during Salaah so I decided to try the repetition theory. I started reciting aloud when he was in the car with me and then began reciting Al-Fatiha before reciting Quran each night when I was on bedtime duties.
I did some googling too but found most blogs and articles to be very generic and aimed at older kids. I found apps as well but I came across something on Facebook which inspired me to do it the old-fashioned way instead.
“Teach your children Surah Al-Fatiha before anyone else does. It be a part of their prayers for the rest of their lives and you will be rewarded In Sha Allah’ (via islamicrays)
One night, before doing our nightly Adhkar and bedtime story, I sat him on my lap and read from the Mus’haf using his finger to point down the page. After doing this for a few nights, he began reciting with me and we added this to our nightly routine, Alhamdulillah.
My wife continued this routine during Ramadan while I was at Taraweeh and by the Grace of Allah, while we prayed at the Musjid a few nights ago, I heard him recite the entire Surah from memory. SubhanAllah, I can not begin to describe the feeling… so I won’t.
I am proud to accept this as our Eid Gift from him this Ramadan, I pray that Allah guide him and allow us the reward from every single recitation In Sha Allah.
We’ve included Surah Ikhlas to our routine and during the last few nights of Ramadan my amazing wife also added Surah Al-Asr. I’m looking forward to revising these with him and also coming up with a few strategies that might aid other parents to do the same In Sha Allah.
Eid Mubarak!

Ramadan with my wife and kids… (Especially for my wife)

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

As much as we plan for Ramadan and despite the immense Barakah and Blessing in the month itself, our hectic lives and complicated lifestyles always make Ramadan a busy time in the household. With a toddler and a new born, this Ramadan was always going to be a challenge but as I reflect on the month passed, I think we did alright. This post is dedicated to the person who worked day and night to ensure the Ramadan Family Machine was well oiled and maintained.

From the pre Ramadan planning, meal planning and food preparations right up to the kids Ramadan activities, dealing with my hectic routine and taking care of the Eid Gifts… when you really think about it, Ramadan also serves as a reminder of the blessings we have throughout the year that we take for granted… the wives, the mothers, the facilitators of Ramadan.

This year, my wife (and fellow blogger) had the task of not only managing the entire household but also to create the ideal Ramadan environment for our children and in particular, our 3 & a half year old son. It required a valiant effort from the both of us but looking back right now, I believe it was well worth it and definitely well accomplished.

She cooked our food, made me oats for Suhoor every day, cared for the kids, I even saw her feeding both kids at the same time while I had my afternoon nap after work one day. ‘Super-Mum’ comes to mind when I think about it in retrospect. Cooking and cleaning aside, its the ‘Kids Ramadan’ that really impressed me, both as a husband and a father.

Even before Ramadan began, we had a Ramadan Advent Calendar on the wall detailing our ‘Ramadan Activities’ for each day. These included arts & craft, reciting Quran, learning Surah’s and even making binoculars for our Moon-sighting adventures. The activities may seem simple but the impact they had on our son was truly amazing.

The advent calendar gave him something to look forward to each day and the awareness of Ramadan encouraged him to help out around the house. The Ramadan consciousness instilled in him through these activities eventually gave him the courage to attempt fasting and also accompany me to Taraweeh at the Musjid.

I can not describe the joy of having a toddler insist on going to the mosque for Iftar and Taraweeh, I believe the Ramadan environment facilitated by my wife’s ingenious ideas played a big role in achieving this and for that I am grateful.

Despite not watching any tv for the entire month (Zaky Videos were the exception), the kids we entertained through-out the day and there was never a dull moment in the house, Alhamdulillah.

After reflecting  on the past month with my wife and kids, I am reminded of one of the teachings of Islam and this has given me a greater appreciation for the wisdom behind this teaching…

 The first right of the child over the father is to choose a righteous wife in order to be a righteous mother.

May Allah reward her and increase her! I pray that this Ramadan has been a fruitful month for everyone and that Allah shower his Mercy and Blessings on the Wives, Mothers and caretakers of this Ummah In Sha Allah.

For anyone who doesn’t already know, my blog is married to the the blog, Modest Munchies so check out some of my wife’s savvy tips and ideas for the kitchen and the family there.

Eid Mubarak!

Islamic Edutainment… My thoughts on ‘Zaky & Friends’

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

With Eid around the corner, I’ve noticed a number of ads for the Zaky & Friends Series of Videos and I thought I’d share my thoughts on these.

Zaky Range of Movies

I remember buying one of the ‘Zaky Movies’ for my little sister a few years ago. As a teenager (at the time), I didn’t care much about the movie itself but I thought it would be a nice gift for my baby sister. My sister was known for her endless questioning and so I was bombarded with questions about the movies which gave me some insight into how a child might absorb such stories.

Fast forward a few years and my little sis gave me these very movies for my son who was only a year old at the time but I decided to hang on to them and keep them safe for him. As he grew older and took a keener interest in the colours eminating from the tv screen, we began watching some of these movies with him and would often use them to keep him occupied while we were busy.

As first time parents we were concerned about some of the effects television and movies could have on our son and found comfort in re-running these movies from time to time as a little distraction for him. He watched the movies over and over for several months and eventually tired of them and asked us not to put any ‘Zaky Movies’ on for him. I must admit, at this point I had memorised the scripts and soundtracks of all the movies so I didn’t mind the change up.

By 2 years of age he had tasted the sweetness of television and started watching ABC for Kids. We were very mindful of his television habits and kept a close eye on the content. In my 12 weeks as a stay at home dad, I found a number of supposedly children’s television shows to be completely inappropriate for kids and with the help of my wife was able to filter through the tv guide and only allow him to watch a select few shows that we were comfortable with.

A few months passed by and though he was enjoying watching Sesame Street and one of my favourites, Fireman Sam, he began asking questions about some of the stories he had learnt in the Zaky videos. I was amazed at this since he hadn’t watched any of the movies in a while and you usually don’t expect a toddler to retain such information for such a long time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed our little conversations and to be honest, it was an amazing feeling as a parent.

His questions and curiosity got us back into the movies, I bought the entire set and for Eid that year, we got him the accessories and toys to go with the movies.

His favourite movie was Story Time 2: The story of Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) which I watched with him a few more times so I could correctly address his questions and concerns. It was only then that I realised the power of these movies and the extent of their impact on a child’s mind. The questions he was asking related to matters of Faith including the concept of God and Good vs Evil which can sometimes get tricky when you’re dealing with a toddler. By taking the time to answer hes questions, unbeknownst to us, we had given him what I believe is the best Madrassah lesson you could possibly give a 2 and a half year old kid.

While the concept of God, particularly as The Creator was something he was already familiar with, the movie gave him an understanding of God as The Care-taker, The Protector, The Loving and Powerful as evidenced in the story of Prophet Ibrahim. He grasped the idea of idol worship being contrary to God’s teachings which also gave him a foundation for the criteria of what is right and what is wrong. He was also able to understand the concept of Prophethood and related it back to God.

The incident of the Fire in the story of Prophet Ibrahim introduced him to the power of God over all things as well as the concept of miracles. He even acknowledged the existence of the Angels which was something I was slightly concerned about due to the complexities of the unseen world.

I didn’t realise that he had understood and absorbed so much of this story until a few months later when I began reading the series of kids books titled ‘Stories of the Prophets’ to him.While I had prepared myself for the questions that might have ensued, to my astonishment, he had a firm understanding of the core concepts which facilitated his understanding and appreciation of the stories of all the Prophets – This is when I truly appreciated and understood the value of these movies.

I’ve also seen kids watch some of these videos without benefitting at all from them so it’s important not to force it on to young kids and to ensure you have the time and patience to address their questions and concerns. Parents should be watching these videos with their kids so it becomes more than just entertainment. I believe this applies to all types of entertainment, if you’re comfortable exposing your kids to something, the least you can do is expose yourself to it so you know exactly what your child is being subjected to.

The Zaky and Friends brand has grown substantially over the last few years and as a Muslim Parent in Australia, I am proud of their success and grateful for their efforts. May Allah increase them, I look forward to many more videos In Sha Allah and I’m hoping my daughter also enjoys their works.

The DVD’s and merchandise are available on the One4Kids website as well as a number of other Online Stores. Click here for a preview of Story Time 2: The story of Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim)

In the words of Merril J Fernando… ‘Do Try It’ 😉 – Your kids will thank you one day!

I hope many more kids can benefit from these videos In Sha Allah!

Assalaamu Alaikum!

3 Reflections… One of my favourite Ayaat.

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

I reached one of my favourite Ayaat today which brought back many memories. These Ayaat brought tears to my eyes in my youth, made me proud in adulthood and gives me hope in parenthood.

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SubhanAllah, the same words repeated, a different message each time!

I pray to have many more reflections on these Ayaat In Sha Allah!