The ten days of the Islamic month, Dhul Hijjah, are the best days of the year. This is the month of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to the Ka’bah. But this month is more than that, especially for those not making the pilgrimage this year. It is the season of sacrifice, banking good deeds, and building love for our father, Prophet Ibrahim (AS), our mother, Hajar (RA), and their spiritual journeys.
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” [Bukhari].
Children’s early experiences of Dhul Hijjah informs the feeling and memories they associate with this blessed month and the religious obligation of Hajj throughout their lives. Creating family traditions to get children excited about and engaged with Islam during this month will help them grasp hold of the blessings and sacredness that we as adults cherish about Hajj. Think about all the ways to involve their senses to cement positive memories for them!
So how should we approach this month and all that it can teach us?
Be creative about reliving the story of Ibrahim (PBUH).
This month is a chance for us to build love and awe of the spiritual journeys of Prophet Ibrahim, Ismaeel and Umm Hajar (Peace be Upon Them)— and to connect to their struggles in a way that makes sense for our current times. Try to think beyond just talking to your children about their experiences— channel your inner artist! Here are some ideas:
- Try STEM activities that capture each struggle Prophet Ibrahim went through. Have children engineer their own Zam-Zam well with basic household supplies. Make a diorama of the kaaba (here’s a lego version!) or masjid el-haram.
- Make a comic/sketch of the story (keeping to respectful guidelines). Act it out!
- With teens and pre-teens, make sure to have open-ended discussions about each struggle. Try questions like:
- How does this relate to something you’ve gone through in your life?
- What can we learn from what they went through?
- What would you do if you were in their shoes?
Instill a love and yearning to go for the pilgrimage.
Children should not just learn about Hajj as a pillar of Islam and then never again until they have to perform Hajj. Build their connection to it now so that they have a yearning to go!
- Play the live stream— engaging children’s auditory and visual senses will strengthen their memories and bond this month!
- Make a memoir or anthology of all the family’s Hajj experiences, and eventually include yours.
- Call/visit an elderly member of the family/community and interview them about their Hajj story/experience.
- Watch old news commentaries, documentaries, or photos of Hajj and see how it has changed over the years.
- Understand the symbolism and meaning behind each aspect of Hajj.
Center the experience of sacrifice.
Dhul hijjah is a time for sacrifice but not just the sacrifice of an animal for Eid-ul-Adha. This month can teach us about personal sacrifices people make and how to be empathetic and supportive of their struggles. We can’t learn about gratitude and privilege if we don’t have to make sacrifices others are making.
- Ask each other what you would like to sacrifice during these special days? It can be a habit that you want to get rid of or simply an extra luxury to understand how fortunate we are.
- Brainstorm how you can support others around you who may be going through various struggles.
- Increase awareness of the global Muslim community (Ummah) by fasting together and making meals representing all the different Muslim countries in the world.
- Participate in an udhiya (animal sacrifice) physically. Take the slaughtered meat as a family to other families in your community.
Be intentional about engaging in good deeds.
Many of us use this month to engage in extra good deeds. Try to diversify how you remember Allah (SWT) during these days and engage in different acts of worship such as fasting, charity, giving time and serving others, and gaining knowledge. Here are some other ideas:
- Set aside time each day for dhikr and reading Quran as a family.
- Engage in worship that connects you to others. Try this:
- Make a duaa alghayb jar (duaa for someone in their abscence: Tell your family that the duaa for a Muslim brother/sister without them knowing brings great reward. The angels will wish the same or something similar for you. Then on each card, write down the special duaa for someone else, not yourself. Read the duas on each of the ten days or at the end of the month. Discuss the duas your children made for others and their thoughts behind what they wrote.
- Make a competition with loved ones on who can do the most good deeds.
- Create a theme for each day. Watch Yaqeen’s quick video series for inspiration.
This month is an opportunity to instill core Islamic values in our children, and build positive memories associated with those beliefs. These memories will build a strong foundation for their Muslim identities as they get older inshAllah. Use the ideas mentioned in this article to find different ways to instill a love for the Prophet Ibrahim (AS), Hajj, sacrifice and gratitude, and engaging in good deeds. May Allah (SWT) bless us with the chance to increase in good deeds this month and instill a love of his religion in our children.