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Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

Family togetherness during Ramadan is especially important for parents of young children and adolescents. Children’s early experiences of Ramadan informs the feeling and memories they associate with this blessed month  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 inexplicable aura of blessings and sacredness that we as adults cherish about Ramadan.

So how do you go about getting your children excited about Ramadan? We’ve outlined some ideas below on how to do this. Use these ideas to start thinking creatively about how you can make this month a time of spiritual growth and togetherness for your family as a whole.

Set Spiritual Goals Together

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

A common practice for adult Muslims is setting Ramadan goals. While you’re setting your own goals for spiritual growth and character development, engage children in a conversation about what these things mean and why it’s especially important during Ramadan. This helps them develop a growth mindset, and builds their resilience.  

Brainstorm with your children about ways that they want to change. Empower them to make a change with helpful tools. You may want to help them document their success through written goals,  journals, and Ramadan charts. Or simply give them a list of ideas so that they can get good deeds in this blessed month rewards. To ensure that the ideas are age appropriate, refer to these examples:  preschool, younger elementary, older elementary and middle school, and high school.

Encourage them to keep coming back to their list the same way you might to your own. Make a family goal sheet to create a sense of togetherness even when you’re working on yourself individually. As they reach their goals, celebrate and reward them for increments of change.

Get creative! Check out Ramadan advent calendars as creative ways to provide incentives to kids for sticking to their goals. Craft a gratitude tree to encourage kids to consistently reflect on what they’re thankful for. Good deed jars are another activity to consider!

For more goal-setting ideas and resources, refer to the Personal Development section of The FYI Ramadan Readiness Toolkit.

Decorate the House Together

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

One of the best ways to kick off Ramadan as a family is to work together to get the house decorated. Listen to Ramadan anasheeds (Islamic songs) or play the Qur’an to help get everyone in the Ramadan spirit as you decorate the house. Creating a distinct, positive, sensory stimulation is important to introducing positive connections that children will associate with Ramadan for the rest of their life. There are lots of ideas available online for very simple decorations to get the house looking Ramadan-ready.

Increase the Visibility of Islamic Materials Around the Home

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

Another great way to get children to start thinking about Ramadan might be to place Islamically-relevant children’s books and magazines out on display. These can serve as a fun and effective way for younger children to learn about Ramadan and its importance. In addition, these resources can also serve as identity-enhancing experiences because they are able to see themselves and their religious community in mainstream children’s literature.

Involve Children in Preparations

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

Much of creating the “Ramadan experience” for children is simply a matter of involving them in the things you already do to practice and prepare for the month. For example, having children tag along on grocery trips and letting them help pick out healthy food options for iftar goes a long way in getting children in the spirit. Involve them in the meal planning and cooking, iftar organizing, and general house preparations for Ramadan.  

Learn Together as a Family

Spend 5 minutes learning together as a family. Watch a short Islamic video, read a verse from the Qur’an, hadith, discuss Ramadan related ayat and hadith, or simply share reflections on what each person is grateful for. Keep it short, simple, and have fun as a family. When you learn and share religious knowledge/thought as a family, you are encouraging a family tradition of learning together, exchanging ideas, and making Islam an important part of your family lives.

Make Du’a (supplication) Together

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

The moment before iftar (breaking fast) is a great time to introduce kids to the power of du’a. They can brainstorm du’as they want to make in Ramadan beforehand, read dua’s that they like or find meaning with, or simply encourage them to share the du’as they have on their mind.

Set some time aside to sit together and have them share their du’as aloud. Have children explain why they chose those du’as, and why those things are important to them. This will teach children to be conscientious about the du’as they make, allow you to gain an understanding of what’s on their mind, and spark family conversation about topics that might not have otherwise come to your attention.

For additional strategies on working on your child’s spiritual development, here are some training tips and techniques to transform your children’s minds and memories this Ramadan.

Engage in Charity Together

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

Giving charity is an important aspect of Ramadan, both as a teaching tool and as a way to bond together. Engage in acts of charity in the community, whether it’s making food for those less fortunate in the community, helping clean up the city, buying gifts for foster children, or simply helping an elderly person clean up their house! These actions help model charity in many different ways. It also empowers your children to realize they can give charity at every stage of life and in whatever financial situation they are in — because even a smile is charity!

In addition, get them in the habit of giving money intentionally. Talk to them about how much they spend on themselves verse how much they are willing to share what Allah (SWT) has gifted them. Help children create a budget for donations, research and evaluate charities’ impact and effectiveness, explain the rationale behind donations, and then let them choose where the donations go. This helps children increase their financial literacy, critical thinking skills, practice decision making, and express their opinions.

Involve Children in Strengthening Relationships

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

Make it a point to have them join you when you reach out to extended family and friends as much as possible. Whether you ask them to make phone calls to relatives, visit others with you, invite people into your own home, or simply give Ramadan gift baskets to your neighbors and co-workers — any effort made to maintain those relationships will stick with your child. Their involvement in these activities will instill the importance of maintaining relationships, teach them important social skills, and Islamic manners.  

Include Children in Night Prayer

Encouraging Family Traditions in Ramadan

Qiyams, planned as a fun family event, can also go a long way in creating positive memories for children to associate with Ramadan. Taking breaks often and having activities in intervals is key to making this fun for them. For example, you might read a few surahs together, and then play a game as a break. Maybe focus on how to pray for some time, and then have some special snacks prepared for them to munch on. Fun qiyams are a great way to encourage family bonding.

Remember, the key here is very simple: just find ways to meet your children at their level while getting them engaged in the things you already do to make the most out of Ramadan. Just the fact that you are making an effort with your children during this month means that you are doing things right–just be together! Most of all, Ramadan is the best opportunity to talk more with each other, listen more to each other, and grow together as a family – both spiritually and in character.

This article was authored by Duaa Haggag LLPC, Sameera Ahmed Ph.D., Aminah Raazi B.A., and Madiha Tahseen Ph.D.

Like what you are reading? Check out our Ramadan Readiness Toolkit!

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Blog Author:

Duaa Haggag

Duaa Haggag, LPC is a Community Educator with The Family & Youth Institute. She holds a Master’s degree in counseling, with a dual certificate in school and community counseling. She currently works in private practice as a child, adolescent, and family therapist at Silent Sunlight Counseling. Her interests include group, play, and art therapy.

Madiha Tahseen

Dr. Madiha Tahseen is the Research Director and a Community Educator at The Family and Youth Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research expertise is in positive youth development amongst Muslim-American youth, particularly focusing on the role of cultural and religious contexts in character development among minority populations.

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Sameera Ahmed

Dr. Sameera Ahmed is the Executive Director and Founder of The Family and Youth Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Dr. Ahmed is a leading expert on American Muslim youth and has produced numerous groundbreaking publications, including The State of American Muslim Youth, Uplifting Black Muslim Youth, Prevalence of Risk Behaviors of US Muslim College Students, and Alcohol Use Among US Muslim College Students.

Guest Author:

- Aminah Raazi B.A.

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).