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!

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Ramadan Prep… Clear up the clutter for 2015

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

Ramadan 2015 is fast approaching and with a only a few weeks to go, it’s time to re-visit a few Lifestyle Optimisation Strategies of old. Clear up the clutter now so you can take advantage of every opportunity during the month of Ramadan.

Here are a few tips I’ve used over the years to prepare for the blessed month:

  • Make up previous year’s missed fasts / Pay Fidyah, etc. depending on your circumstances
  • Take advantage of fasting during the month of Sha’ban
  • Recite Quran – if possible, complete your current recitation and begin a new one in the month of Ramadan
  • Get a good sleep cycle going so you can handle waking up for Suhoor
  • Cut down on socialising and social media so you can avoid unnecessary talk/chat, etc
  • Talk to the kids and prepare them for the change in routine ahead – Get them excited too!
  • Limit the amount of Entertainment/Television/Movies/Gaming, etc
  • Plan your meals early – Ramadan is not just about food but since we need to eat and drink, plan your menu in advance and make all necessary preparations so you don’t waste time in the kitchen. My wife’s in charge of this department and I’m sure she’ll be sharing some of her Ramadan recipes on Modest Munchies.
  • Shop now – get your shopping done early, stock up on groceries and your Eid clothes too so you’re not frequenting the shops when you can be benefiting from  the virtue of this auspicious month.

It’s been a year since the last Ramadan, take this opportunity to get back into the zone so you don’t waste valuable time trying to find your feet. Prepare early, prepare well and get ready for the month of Mercy.

For the sisters, if you need support or motivation to help with any fasts you may need to make up, check out the Making Up Missed Fasts post by Modest Munchies. Brothers, if you’re not accustomed to fasting outside of Ramadan, give it a go and you’ll have a greater appreciation for the women in your lives who have to make up these fasts.

Ramadan with 2 kids driving us crazy should be fun and interesting this year In Sha Allah. Circumstances may change but the yearning for Allah’s mercy remains and continues to grow. This is also of the blessings of Ramadan.

May Allah extend our lives so we may witness the month of Ramadan In Sha Allah.

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.

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!

Date thy neighbour…

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

My wife and I have been planning to share some Sunnah inspired treats with the neighbours since we moved into our new neighbourhood a few months ago. Between unpacking and having a baby, we didn’t get down to doing it. Perhaps it was better to wait…

Caring for, sharing with and doing good unto neighbours is a big part of our tradition and also a great social obligation in Islam. There could be no better an opportunity to revive this Sunnah than the month of Ramadan… the month of sharing.

Some of the benefits of Dating your neighbours:

  • Most importantly it is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a form of charity – “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498
  • Emphasises the significance of both sharing and neighbourliness in Islam
  • Encourages kids to be generous and teaches good etiquette towards neighbours
  • Increased awareness of Islam and Ramadan in particular
  • It is a great form of Da’wah and propagation of our beautiful faith
  • A good ice-breaker for new neighbours or people new to your area
  • It can be a good Ramadan Activity if you get the kids involved
  • Facilitates better relations with neighbours

A simple act that could have lasting effects, not to mention the satisfaction and fulfilment from doing something good for the sake of Allah.

Sharing with Muslim neighbours is as easy as delivering a plate of goodies but with non-Muslim neighbours it’s important to share as much information as possible. Here is the note we sent out with our treats:

“Ramadan is a special month of the year for over 1.8 Billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner reflection, contemplation, discipline and devotion to God. As we fast and sacrifice food and drink during the daylight hours, we are reminded of those who are less fortunate than us and we are encouraged to be charitable. Ramadan is a month of giving and sharing… Dates are a big part of Ramadan and the Islamic tradition, we’d like to share this delicious and nutritious fruit with you today”.

My wife put together these Cream Cheese filled Date treats and a Free Printable Template which is available here. For more Ramadan treats, kids activities and your very own Ramadan Meal planner, check out Modest Munchies.

May the Blessings of Ramadan be with you.

Ramadan Prep… Clearing up the clutter once again!

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

Ramadan 2014 is fast approaching and with only a few weeks to go, it’s time to re-visit a few Lifestyle Optimisation Strategies. Clear up the clutter now so you can take advantage of every opportunity during the month of Ramadan.

  • Make up previous year’s missed fasts / Pay Fidyah, etc. depending on your circumstances
  • Take advantage of fasting during the month of Sha’ban
  • Recite Quran – if possible, complete your current recitation and begin a new one in the month of Ramadan
  • Get a good sleep cycle going so you can handle waking up for Suhoor/Sehri
  • Go easy on socialising and social media so you can avoid unnecessary talk/chat, etc – something I need to work on this In Sha Allah.
  • Limit the amount of Entertainment/Television/Gaming, etc
  • Plan your meals early – Ramadan is not just about food but since we need to eat and drink, plan your menu in advance and make all necessary preparations so you don’t waste time in the kitchen. My wife’s in charge of this department and I’m sure she’ll be sharing some of her Ramadan recipes on ModestMunchies.com
  • Shop now – get your shopping done early, stock up on groceries and your Eid clothes too so you’re not frequenting the shops when you can be benefiting from  the virtue of this auspicious month.
It’s been a year since the last Ramadan, take this opportunity to get back into the zone so you don’t waste valuable time trying to find your feet. Prepare early, prepare well and get ready for the month of Mercy.

Over the years I’ve observed how Ramadan preparation changes with our circumstances. Ramadan as a child with my family, then as a teenager, as a husband with my wife, as a new father, last year with a toddler, this year with my 4 month old daughter…Alhamdulillah.

Circumstances often change but the yearning for Allah’s mercy remains and continues to grow. This is also from the blessings of Ramadan.

May Allah extend our lives so we may witness the month of Ramadan In Sha Allah.