Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, is very special to Muslims as a holy period dedicated to fasting, self- purification through reflection, and trying to gain spiritual attainment. It is also the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
Growing up in a Muslim country (Saudi Arabia), Ramadan was special but also taken in stride as a part of a country’s culture and traditions. The daily activities along with timings were changed to accommodate the people fasting in Ramadan. The community building aspect of Ramadan is extremely significant and these wide display of faith signify the holy month and create an environment of festive joy. After moving to the U.S and raising my kids, I used to feel extremely homesick especially in Ramadan. I used to miss everyone getting up together for Suhoor. My Ammi making paratha and chai. My sisters and I rushing to get our favorite spot to pray in our room on our precious prayer mat. Schools and offices starting late and letting off early to allow time for prayers and worship. At Iftaar, we would be exchanging food with neighbors or throwing Iftaar parties with family & friends! The memories! So precious!
When my son turned 4 and my daughter was 2 years old, I realized that I wanted my kids to be as excited for Ramadan as I always have been! I wanted to instill in them a love for this amazing month. But when kids are this young, it’s hard to think of ways to get them excited or focused for long. Also, being a mother of two young kids, it’s even harder to find time to be super creative! I decided to do something that would involve the kids in crafting and make them feel a part of the whole project. And so our “Ramadan Mubarak” banner was made using craft paper, glitter, glue and sharpie! I bought simple white paper bags and stencils. After outlining the stencils on the bag, I asked the kids to color them in and decorate them with glitter glue. The idea here is decorating thirty bags, one for each day. I filled these bags with different things- small toys, coloring books, candies & chocolates, one dollar, a coupon to sleep with Ammi & Baba in their room, a coupon to go to their favorite playground, etc.
As the kids get older, I have started doing moon phases on the bags. I draw the different phases and my kids cut them out and stick them in an order! They love this version of the bags too! The moon is cut out from gold glitter paper and it looks so sparkly when the light shines on them! So here’s the deal- Everyday at Iftaar time, when we have had our dates and milk, the kids each have to tell us three good deeds they did that day. The night before Ramadan starts, I explain to them that good deeds can be anything from giving someone a glass of water, to not being mad at one another, to helping your classmate in school, to helping me around the house, to giving water to the plants. So, armed with this knowledge, both of them try to do “good deeds” through out the day so that they can open up a bag! It’s so nice to see them continuously scrambling to do good through out! That time is the highlight of our day! I have made videos of the kids narrating what good they have done that day and it’s seriously so cute to look at how they are growing and changing every year!
I also setup a Ramadan reading table as my kids love to read. The activity books help to keep them engaged when they are looking for something to do! Our favorite right now is “Ramadan” by Hannah Eliot & illustrated by Rashin. It’s so beautiful and wonderful to explain Ramadan to the kids. I also take this book to my kids school to explain about Ramadan and pass on treats. I will be doing a separate blog post about that.
I make a centerpiece for my dining table so that it looks festive. On a lazy Susan, I put up a lantern, some dates in a bowl, flowers in mason jar, lemons and leaves for freshness, and decorated candles. Simple but an eye-catching display!
These lights from Amazon are so pretty! I also have small prayer mats for each kid and we do our prayers together and talk about Allah and His mercy and being grateful after every prayer. It’s also important to start teaching them small surahs with meanings and Ramadan is the perfect time to begin!
Above all, it’s important to have a clean and organized home before Ramadan begins as “Cleanliness is half of our faith”. And teach our kids that too! It’s not about decorating one corner while the rest of the place looks like a tornado swept past! Minimal decorations but in a clean, sweet smelling home will give you and your family peace and tranquility.
May Allah accept all our efforts and make us the best versions of ourselves! Ameen!
Ramadan Kareem from the Ali family! ❤️