December 17, 2011

Sunnah of Childcare: Welcoming the Newborn Part 1

 When a Muslim child is born, welcoming him or her into the world includes certain religious rituals. Some of these rituals are considered obligatory to perform while others are not. And for some others differences of opinion exist. Below is a list of these rituals compiled from various sources. 

1. Reciting the Athan in the Newborn’s Ear
Immediately after a child is born, within the first moments of its life, the athan should be recited into his or her ear. It’s reported in Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ahmad, that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, recited the athan into the ear of Hasan ibn Alee when Fatimah gave birth to him.

Regarding the wisdom of this, Ibn Al Qayyim said, “The secret meaning behind the athaan (in the ear), and Allah knows best, is that the first sound that should resonate in the ears of a human being are these words which consist of magnification and glorification of the Lord as well as the testimony of Faith, which is the first thing that admits one into Islam…”  

--Taken from Raising Children in Light of the Quran and Sunnah

2. Performing Tahneek
Tahneek is the practice of softening a date and rubbing a bit of it on the hard palate of the newborn’s mouth with your finger. This is a recommended sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. 

Abu Moosa Al-Asharee reported, “A boy was born to me, so I took him to the Prophet. He named him Ibraheem, performed tahneek on him using a date, and invoked blessings on him.” –Bukhari and Muslim

Ibn Hajar is reported to have said, “Priority should be given to ripe dates. If one is not able to find them, then he may use moist dates. If not, then something sweet. And the honey of a bee is better than anything else.” – Fat’h-ul-Baaree under “The Book of Aqeeqah’

The benefits of performing tahneek include: 
  • Reviving a Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah
  • Helping a newborn child to exercise his mouth muscles by moving his tongue when he tries to lick and jaw when he tries to suckle, both of which can help to initiate breastfeeding. --Tarbiyyatul-Awlaad fil-lslaam' of 'Abdullaah Naasih 'Alwaan (Vol. i, P. 71)
-- Taken from

3. Announcing the News
It is customary for the parents to announce the good news of the child’s birth. This puts ease into the hearts of anxiously waiting family members and lets them know that they can be happy for the parents, congratulate them, make dua’a for them, and make dua’a for the child. 

The announcement can also be done for the coming of the newborn, as is mentioned in the Qur’an. 

In Suratal Maryam, Allah, subhana wa ta ala, announced to Prophet Zakariyyah (alayhi salaam) that he would have a son. The translation says: “O Zakariyah, verily We give you the glad tidings of a son whose name will be Yahyaa.” –ayah 7

And in Surah As-Saaffaat, Allah, subhana wa ta ala, speaks of Prophet Ibrahim, alayhi salam, when he says (translation): “And We gave him the glad tidings of Ishaaq – a prophet from among the righteous.” –ayah 112

--Taken from Raising Children in Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah

4. Naming the Child
Giving a good name is one of the essential rights of a Muslim child. You can read more about this right in our previous post, Children’sRights: To Be Given a Good Name

It is recommended to name a child on the seventh day after their birth though it is permissible to name them at any time before or after that as well. 

In a saheeh hadith reported by Ahmed, Abu Dawood, and others, the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “Every child is held in pledge for his aqeeqah which is sacrificed for him on his seventh day, and he is named on it and his head is shaved.”

Among the praiseworthy names to give a Muslim child are:
  •  Names that indicate servitude to Allah, i.e. Abdullah or Abdurrahman
  •  Names that belonged to the Prophets, i.e. Muhammad, Adam, or Ibraheem
  •  Names of pious people, both men and women, including The Companions, the Martyrs and the Scholars, i.e. Maryam, Sumayyah, or Umar
  •  Names that have good meanings, i.e. Sarah or Hamzah
Names that are prohibited to give a Muslim child include (but are not limited to):
  • Names that indicate servitude to other than Allah, i.e. Abdur Rasool (slave of the Messenger)
  • Names that are specific to Allah, i.e. Al-Ahad
  • Names that have negative meanings, or meanings that could cause the child to feel humiliated, or meanings that could be offensive, i.e. Fitnah (temptation), Himaar (donkey), or Nuhaad (young woman with raised breasts)
-- Taken from

December 11, 2011

Reflections After A Mother's Passing

Mariam and Anis Hoda are a Muslim couple living in California, USA. Since 2010, they were living with and caring for Anis' mother who suffered from Vascular Dementia. On November 28, 2011 their mother died. This post, which was originally posted on their blog My Mother and I,  is the final post in a series of interviews with Mariam and Anis on their mother's condition (See Living with My Mother's Dementia Part 1 and Living with My Mother's Dementia Part 2). Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. From Allah we come and to Allah we shall return. 

I have decided that I will not post anymore after this last post. I have kept myself busy this week after returning to work on Monday to extremely supportive co-workers, with the hope that slowly life will be back to normal. A new normal that is: a normal without mom. It can’t ever be the same normal where I could smell her, poke my nose playfully in her face and watch her laugh. I can’t ever touch her again or hear her call me to sit with her.  
I was craving something sweet and went to raid the fridge.  I saw apple sauce and without thinking took a cup out. Just when I got the spoon, it hit me that during the last stage, we used to crush pills and give it to mom with apple sauce, a trick a hospital nurse showed us.  A couple of cups had remained. I miss her.  Small things make us miss her more, whether it’s visiting the Chinese restaurant and eating walnut shrimp or making carne asada tacos.
Mom passed away early morning on Monday, November 28th, 2011. We were all with her when she gasped for her last breath and her soul left. The breathing rate had been slowing down a lot and there was no pulse for about an hour before that. She started to have gaps in her breathing which kept on getting bigger and finally, it stopped.  Papa checked her heart with his stethoscope; she was still breathing with gaps but there was no beat. After her last breath, I checked it. There was silence, a loud silence.
Islamically, the body is to be buried as soon as possible. Since we had already planned things, we were able to do the burial the same day, later that afternoon. Mariam, my sister and few other relatives gave mom her final bath. We prayed over her body, the final prayer of burial at the local mosque before proceeding to the cemetery. I got down in the grave along with my brother and two other close relatives to lay the body down. I was the last one out.  I made her slant a bit to her right so that she would face the Kaaba in Mecca. She was buried without a coffin, wrapped in white sheets. When I was moving mud around her body, my hand touched her face and could feel her nose. That was the last time I touched my mother. Soon afterwards, she was under piles of mud, on her way to eternity. After her washing, I saw her at the mortuary and she looked as if she was smiling, a slight smile, peaceful face and at ease. It’s been a while since we saw her without pain.
The support from our friends and family was overwhelming. I can’t imagine anything better. Many of mine and Mariam’s friends dropped everything, took the day off work and came over to be by our side. They took care of kids, made arrangements for “A’zza”, the reception for people to meet family and give condolences. The numerous hugs and words of encouragement, teary eyes of these macho friends of mine, it all just over took us. One of my best friend’s dads saw me at the Masjid, gave me a hug and started crying. I had to console him! I met mothers of four of my closest friends, all of them crying. These people whom I am not related to by blood were crying for my pain. They were crying because they are related to me by faith and by humanity.  We do not know how to repay them.
And thank you all for your support and for sharing our journey.
Many of those who called from all over the world could not believe that mom was no more. They broke into tears and some just cried and hung up. They couldn’t talk. Baji was gone. Who would go around in the middle of cold nights with blankets and give them out to the people sleeping in the cold on the streets of our home town in India? Who would stop us from killing even a bee? Who is going to make sure the baby of the girl who lives near our house gets milk? Who is going to teach the neighborhood girls? The list goes on and the void gets bigger.
If I was asked to summarize mom’s legacy, it would most certainly be of charity and simplicity. She lived a simple life with minimal needs and wishes. What she had was for others; she would always be giving. To help was her nature. It would melt her heart to see someone suffer. We have gotten quite a few emails from people who have benefited from this blog. Her disease, her pain became a tool for her to help others. She lives on in our hearts and the hearts of many for reasons we would never know. She is her legacy, even in death.
So long Amma… Inshallah we will see you in Jannah.
Wassalam Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatu
(May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be on you)