Many of us have heard of Diwali or perhaps Holi, but there are actually many important festivals in India. And to add to the complexity, which festivals are celebrated (and how) depends on what part of India you are in. Today I’m thrilled to introduce a lovely picture book and crafts to help kids learn about Durga Puja, a fall festival related to Navrati. Kids will love learning about this holiday, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Learn About Durga Puja
As a member of a minority religion, I can sympathize with author Shoumi Sen, who wanted to make sure that her young daughter would come to appreciate about their beliefs even without the support a large community of co-believers. Sometimes it can be hard to keep a child’s interest in your own religion when they almost totally surrounded by another. So Sen started to tell her daughter stories at night, making sure to tell them in a way that was fun and accessible.
These stories evolved into the “From the Toddler Diaries” series, designed to help Indian parents living outside India pass on their beliefs and traditions to their children. The series now includes Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! as well as Celebrate Holi With Me!. One thing I love about these books is that are very much aimed at young children, showing the joys of these Indian festivals in language that they can easily understand.
In Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! children learn about the major aspects of Durga Puja through colorful illustrations and rhyming text. I really captures the excitement and joy of the holiday as seen through the eyes of a child. Younger readers will enjoy the book as is, whereas older children can use it as a jumping off point to explore the foods, dances, and other traditions mentioned in the book.
Learning about other religions is an important of a world cultures curriculum, but one religion I did not know much about growing up was Sikhism. That is why I was so pleased to receive some beautiful books on Sikhism for kids, which prompted me to deepen my own understanding of this egalitarian, inclusive religion.
When my oldest son was very young, some friends and I had a chance to visit a local Sikh temple with our little ones. It is was an experience I’ll never forget! We were shown such kindness from everyone we met, and I was impressed with their dedication to serving others, as exemplified in the meal that was provided to everyone who attended. Since I was there with a three year old, I didn’t have a chance to really ask questions, and so was left wondering exactly what Sikhs believed and where their traditions had come from. Why do the men wear turbans, and why do they keep their hair so long? Do they believe in one god or many? Why do they all seem to have the same last names?
If you or your children have similar questions, here are great resources on Sikhism for kids that you can share.
Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
A great place to start is this overview which outlines 10 things everyone should know about Sikhism, including the fact that it is an inclusive, pluralistic religion whose members have a long history of fighting for social justice. You can also get a good overview from the Sikhism Guide online or from the BBC website.
I really love the Khalsa Kids website. (Khalsa is the word for the Sikh community). This site is geared towards Sikh kids, but has one section devoted to explaining Sikhism and another just for teachers. These even include lesson plans and aids for classroom discussions. You really get the sense that Sikhs spend a lot of their time having to answer questions about themselves!
Your kids will enjoy this brief video introduction to Sikhism from Little Sikhs (be sure to check out their other resources as well!)
And now for those beautiful books I mentioned! I am grateful to the lovely Saffron Press for sharing them with me. All three are from author Navjot Kaur but with different illustrators, all of whose paintings compliment the text of each book in wonderfully distinct ways. (Side note: the author’s last name of Kaur is the female equivalent of the last name Singh. All Sikhs have one of these two last names – Singh for males, Kaur for females – to demonstrate their belief in total equality, a revolutionary idea when it was founded in 15th century India, steeped in the hierarchical caste system. Traditionally, last names were an easy way to find out what caste a person belonged to).
As of this writing none of the books below is readily available from Amazon; however, you can find them all on the Saffron Press website.
The Garden of Peace is a lushly illustrated book about the origins of Sikhism, using the allegory of planting a garden from seeds that no one thought would sprout. Each seed represents a central tenet of the Sikh faith, such as kindness or determination. Despite the opposition of the evil emperor and his warriors, the little seeds grow into a beautiful garden of peace, tended by a growing number of faithful followers who come from all walks of life. At the back of the book are instructions to grow your own garden of peace by, for example, planting kindness and believing in yourself. I also appreciated the extended author’s note, which gives a detailed history of the origins of Sikhism and how Sikhs today carry on this tradition of peace and service to all.
The award-winning book A Lion’s Mane focuses on the most visible marker of a follower of the Sikh faith – the turban. It explores the meanings of this “lion’s mane” by traveling around the world to connect this Sikh tradition to beliefs about lions in different cultures. For example, Richard the Lionheart of England had many brave knights, and being a Sikh also means having courage. The underlying theme of the book is that although the boy in the book may look different, the turban that looks so “strange” is precisely what connects him to others around the world, and, more to the point, each of us has something that makes us special: “I have a lion’s mane and I am different, just like you!” Don’t miss the curriculum guide that the author has created to accompany this conversation-sparking book.
Dreams of Hope is a gentle bedtime story told by a father to his young daughter. “Where will our dream journey begin tonight, Little One?” His words travel with her as she flies through dreams to visit the nighttime creatures settling down to sleep in the meadow, on the mountaintop, and in the ocean. The text is sprinkled throughout with Panjabi words, explained in a glossary at the back, including the mantra Vaa hey guroo, which is used by Sikhs as “an expression of awe or wonder.” This gorgeous book is clearly meant to be a keepsake, as it contains space for you to write down your dreams and wishes for your child. It also includes a Dreams of Hope Travel Guide with drawings of peace monuments around the world.
Looking for a fun, relatively healthy dessert your whole family will enjoy? Here is a dairy-free version of a traditional Indian treat for Eid, sheer khurma. It is a unique vegan dessert that is easy to make and delicious!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Let me begin by saying that this is NOT a traditional Indian dessert. It is my own reworking of sheer khurma, a dessert that usually has a milk base, because I wanted a version I could serve to my son with a milk allergy. If you search for “vegan sheer khurma” or “dairy-free sheer khurma” online, you are unlikely to find any real results. In the original Persian, sheer khurma literally means “dates with milk,” so not a recipe you would think of making without the milk!
But when we read Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (see my review below), we became curious about this traditional dessert mentioned several times as a delicious treat for Eid. When I discovered it was made with milk, I decided I had to make a non-dairy version, a vegan dessert we could all enjoy. It may not be traditional, but it is still delicious! And it is so different from the desserts that we’re used to that it did give us a flavor of what celebrating Eid would be like in places like India.
I just love the creaminess of sheer khurma, combined with the crunch of the roasted nuts. And the cooked dates add even more body as well as natural sweetness. I must admit for my kids at first it was hard to get past the idea of having pasta in a dessert, but once they tried it, they loved it!
Sheer khurma (or sheer khorma) is a traditional dessert served for Eid, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. I adapted my recipe from this version from the Veggie Indian. The main change I made was to substitute coconut milk for regular milk and coconut oil for ghee. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 1 & 1/4 cups to 1/3 cup, since it already has a lot of natural sweetness from the dates.
4 cups of full fat coconut milk (this is slightly more than 2 cans)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vermicelli, broken into 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc) chopped fine or crushed with mortar and pestle
1/2 cup dates, seeded and chopped (about 8-10 dates)
Golden raisins, handful
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 to 1 tsp rose water
Extra nuts for garnish (I used sliced almonds)
Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a skillet, and roast the vermicelli on a low flame till golden. Set aside to drain on a paper towel. In the same skillet, heat a tbsp of the coconut oil and roast the mixed nuts for 1-2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and keep aside.
Heat coconut milk in a sauce pan and let it come to a boil. Lower the flame and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the milk thickens slightly.
Add the roasted vermicelli, and let it cook in the coconut milk for 5-7 minutes, until the pasta becomes soft.
Add the sugar, nuts, dates, and raisins and mix well. Continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the dates grow soft and the amount of coconut milk reduces by nearly half. The vermicelli should be fully cooked.
Adjust the sweetness and consistency, if needed, by adding more sugar or coconut milk. Keep in mind that the mixture will thicken even more with time.
Finally, add the cardamom powder and rosewater, stir, and remove from heat.
If desired, garnish with additional nuts and serve warm. Enjoy!
In addition to sampling a tasty vegan dessert inspired by a traditional treat, I also wanted to teach the kids more about Eid and Ramadan. A great way to introduce them to this special time is with the wonderful new book Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4). It is part of a series of books exploring Indian culture. What is surprising to most Westerners is that there is a large number of Muslims in India, though we tend to associate that country with Hinduism or Sikhism.
Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4) gives an easy to understand overview of Ramadan and Eid as it is celebrated in India, in addition to highlighting traditions from other countries. One thing I love about this book is that it shows children at different stages in their participation in Ramadan, from an older child who is practicing fasting to younger children who give up toys or sweets in lieu of fasting. This book is perfect for the classroom or home setting, as a way to help children understand why Muslims observe Ramadan and Eid and what it would be like as a child to experience them (such as by eating sheer khurma!).
I am fascinated by the Hindu celebration Holi, the one you see the amazing photographs of each year, with people showering each other with vibrantly colored powders or colored water. But to be honest, beyond the sense of it as a joyous, lively festival, I really didn’t know much about it. Well, dear reader, for you I have decided to go deeper and find out more: Here is why now I’m convinced everyone should learn about Holi!
I received a copy of Let’s Celebrate Holi for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Holi is one of the most fun celebrations I have heard of! The most famous aspect of Holi is how celebrants throw colored powder on each other and spray everyone with colored water, until everyone and everything is covered with beautiful, bright colors. Talk about fun, especially for kids who are always told to be careful not to spill or get their clothes dirty! (Find out how to make your own homemade colored powders).
2. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
No matter what your religion or philosophy, the battle of good and evil is a classic struggle where we all can support the same side! Sharing the story of Holi is a great way to teach children that when it comes down to it, all people believe in the same basic principles.
3. It is celebrated throughout India and around the world.
Holi is not only celebrated in one of the world’s most populous countries, it has also become popular in other countries as well, in part due to immigration but also because it is such a fun festival (see #1!)
5. Your kids will think you are the coolest parent ever.
Getting messy, throwing water and powder on each other, eating great food, and hearing stories that excite the imagination: no doubt about it, if you help your kids learn about Holi, they will think you are awesome!
Convinced? Then I have the perfect guide to teach you and your kids all about Holi! You may remember the series I have reviewed previously about Maya and Neel, the brother and sister who introduce children to Indian culture. They taught about Mumbai in Let’s Visit Mumbai! and the holiday Diwali in Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! (see my reviews here and here). In their latest adventure, Let’s Celebrate Holi!, Maya and Neel help children learn about Holi through traditional foods and activities. I love that the book also highlights regional variations in how Holi is celebrated, with colorful illustrations and maps.
I also appreciated reading the story behind Holi, something I had never really understood before. After all, what does throwing powder on each other have to do with the triumph of good over evil? Find out, plus discover what it has to do with the bonfires during Holi!
As with the other volumes in this series, the illustrations are beautiful and engaging, and young readers can easily relate to these siblings as they learn about Holi and Indian culture, as seen through the eyes of children. If you are looking to introduce your child to this festival or want a story to share in your classroom, I highly recommend Let’s Celebrate Holi!!
Diwali is coming, and I’m excited to share some great Diwali books with you! These are great ones to read with your kids whether they are already familiar with Diwali or not. For those who are just learning about it, it’s a wonderful way to discover this joyous time; while those who already celebrate with their families will enjoy seeing their holiday represented in books and learning the meaning behind the traditions!
I received a complimentary copy of Let’s Celebrate Diwali and Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Diwali Books for Kids
We have just discovered the wonderful story for young children, Let’s Celebrate Diwali, published by Bharat Babies. The first thing that strikes you is how colorful it is! A young girl is nervous to share about Diwali with her classmates, but she is surprised to find out several of them are also celebrating Diwali! What is even more surprising is how differently they celebrate, as she learns that Diwali is recognized not only by Hindus but also by many Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. Includes brief, kid-level explanations behind each religion’s Diwali celebrations.
I adore The Diwali Gift, and not just because the main characters are monkeys! This is a super cute book that kids will really enjoy. The story is a fun little mystery for very young kids that incorporates elements of Diwali in a very natural way. (Read my full review).
I love activity books, so My Diwali Coloring Book sounds wonderful! Recommended for ages 4-8, its illustrations range in difficulty to match different abilities. Includes a simple version of the story behind Diwali as well as conversation starters about Diwali and Indian culture.
Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! is a gorgeous book that presents the story of Diwali in a very engaging, easy to understand way. I love how the characters Maya and Neel lead children through the activities of each of the 5 days of Diwali, with a colorful overview at the back. Younger kids will love the illustrations and overall story, while older kids will also enjoy learning more details about this festival.
Where to Buy Diwali Books
Two of my favorite places to find Diwali books are the same ones where I found such wonderful books for Eid! Read on to find out why you don’t want to miss these online shops:
I love that they are so committed to getting diverse books into schools. In their Diwali giveaways, they are asking people to tag teachers and librarians, since they will be sending two books to schools and libraries to increase their diverse books as part of their Donate for Diversity campaign.
And they are running a special just for All Done Monkey readers!
Use the code ADM10 to get 10% off your order at Kitaab World this Diwali!
Ramadan is ending soon, which means that Muslim families and communities are preparing to celebrate Eid. (For more on teaching kids about Ramadan, read this Ramadan lesson plan). If you are looking for Eid books to read with your kids, they can be difficult to find! I am lucky enough to have been send several wonderful Eid books to review, which I’m happy to share with you below. They are a wonderful introduction to the holiday for Muslim and non-Muslim children alike!
Disclosure: I was sent complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.
Eid Books for Kids
Most people associate Islam with the Middle East, but a huge proportion of Muslims live in other parts of the world. Bharat Babies, which specializes in developmentally appropriate children’s books about all aspects of Indian culture – including Islamic traditions – is the creator of the first of the Eid books I’m sharing with you today. In Amal’s Eid we meet Amal, a young Indian boy preparing to celebrate Eid with his family. As the family gets ready for the holiday, readers learn about the family’s Eid traditions, such as the special foods and clothes, gifts and music that mark the celebration. Amal is a very endearing character, and I love this portrait of this loving family, where aunties slip the kids treats before the big meal and everyone hurries to tidy up before the grandparents arrive for dinner. A great introduction to Eid, plus even those familiar with the holiday will be interested to see how it is celebrated in this part of the world.
Amal’s Eid was so popular that Bharat Babies produced a sequel, Amal’s Ramadan. Amal is now 12 and fasting for the first time. It is great for talking about what fasting is like for kids – from being tempted by a friend’s cookie to feeling dizzy after running around with friends. Amal feels ashamed when he has to drink juice during the day, but loving guidance from his family shows him that the important thing is that he tried and that with time it will get easier.
I received this beautiful book from Kitaab World, which has an impressive selection of books, games, and toys from eight South Asian countries. In The Perfect Gift, Sarah is searching for just the right gift to give to her mother for Eid, but Sarah doesn’t have the money to buy a gift like her brother did or the talent to do calligraphy like her sister. Eventually she discovers a beautiful flower in the snow, which she fences off and labels “Allah’s Perfect Gift to the World.” This is a wonderful book to teach children to appreciate nature and all the perfect gifts it gives us. One of my favorite parts of the book comes when the flower eventually dies. Sarah’s mom tells her not to be sad: “The flower had lived the life that Allah had created it to live and nothing could be better than that.”
This post is part of the Eid for Kids blog hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Read all of the articles below for ideas on celebrating Eid with kids:
Ramadan is coming, and in many homes across the world families are busy preparing for this special time. Last year as part of our world cultures curriculum, I put together this Ramadan lesson plan, appropriate for early elementary school children. (Many of the activities could be simplified for preschoolers). Because I like to integrate our subject matter as much as possible, it includes science, math, and literature, as well as religion. Since it was primarily designed for children with no prior knowledge, it includes a very basic introduction to Islam.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Zachariah’s Perfect Day for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.
Ramadan Lesson Plan for Kids
The Life of Muhammad
We began by talking about the Prophet Muhammad and His life. For this I used Muhammad by Demi, one of our favorite authors. It is a beautifully done and very respectful account of the life and significance of Muhammad. It is a wonderful overview geared towards younger readers. (You can also play some vocabulary games by picking out words that your students might not know, defining them together, then asking them to either act them out or draw pictures).
I pointed out how the illustrator was careful not to paint pictures of Muhammad, following a hadith, or tradition, that forbids creating images of Muhammad. We looked at photos of the beautiful mosaics and calligraphy as examples of other types of Islamic art that have grown up over the centuries instead. We then tried our hand at this Arabic calligraphy lesson for kids.
The Islamic Calendar
We discussed the Muslim calendar and how it is a lunar calendar (that is, based on the position of the moon relative to the Earth), instead of the more familiar solar calendar we use (based on the orbit of the Earth around the sun). The Muslim calendar has 12 months, just like ours does, but because the Muslim month is based on the phases of the moon, each month is 29-30 days long. The lunar year, therefore, is shorter than the solar year by just over 10 days, meaning that the Muslim calendar seems to rotate around the solar calendar. (You can read more about calendars of the world, including the difference between solar and lunar calendars). So sometimes Ramadan is in the summer but sometimes in the winter, spring, or fall.
This is a pretty abstract concept for kids to grasp, so we did an activity to see how the dates on the solar and lunar calendars compared. We pulled out a calendar and did a “race” between the solar and lunar calendars, with the starting line t January 1. Then we counted out 29 days for month one and marked it on the calendar, then counted another 29 days for month 2, etc. until we had completed one lunar year. Now where was the first day of the new year? How far off was it from the solar new year? Who had won the race? Depending on the interest of your students, you could continue the activity for one or two more cycles and see how far off the calendars are after only a few years.
Phases of the Moon
Next we jumped more into the science behind the Islamic calendar by looking more closely at the phases of the moon, since Ramadan begins with the first sighting of the new moon. (There is a great chart of the phases of the moon in Zachariah’s Perfect Day). They each made their own chart by cutting out pieces and gluing them on black paper. We also did this really great visual activity that makes it very clear why the moon looks different throughout the month. Kids will have fun taking turns at being the Earth!
Books about Ramadan
All of which teaches us about the mechanics of the month of Ramadan, but not about what it is like to celebrate it. For this we turned to some great books about the experience of children during Ramadan:
Zachariah’s Perfect Day is a wonderful book about a boy’s first time fasting during Ramadan. I love that it gives a very easy to understand overview about what Ramadan is, woven naturally into the story. It shows what makes it such a special time and what a typical day during Ramadan looks like for a family. It even includes the call to prayer and some recipes for Zachariah’s favorite foods (even deep-fried Oreos!) The excitement and joy of Ramadan really come through, as we experience the fast through Zachariah’s eyes.
A wonderful book for young children is Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors. Through gorgeous illustrations and simple text, it introduces major symbols and traditions of Ramadan. It is easy to read and lends itself very easily to craft projects. You could also have children talk about what are the important colors of their day.
My boys have short attention spans when it comes to crafts, so we did a very simple project of gluing torn paper onto crescent shapes. (You can find tons of wonderful craft ideas on our Ramadan Pinterest board).
You can also find wonderful traditional recipes for Ramadan to prepare together. For example, Zachariah’s Perfect Day‘s includes a recipe for parathas from India. You could also keep things simple by bringing in dates for them to try!
One of the most important parts of Ramadan is focusing on spiritual growth through good deeds and charity. A great activity for this is to make these colorful good deed jars for them to use. You could also do a simple service project together. For example, we baked cookies to share with the staff at my older son’s school.
Ramadan is such a joyous time of year. It is a wonderful way to teach children about Islam and how it is practiced by families around the world and right next door! If possible, a great final step to this lesson would be to contact a local Muslim community and see what Ramadan celebrations you can visit with your students!
Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting its second annual Ramadan for Kids blog hop, where bloggers come together to share ideas for teaching kids about and honoring Ramadan. Don’t forget to check out our series from last year and follow our Ramadan board on Pinterest for even more ideas and link up your own posts below!
So this year I thought we’d take a different perspective by focusing on Iran’s contribution to the world’s spiritual heritage; specifically I was curious to learn more about Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.
Zarathustra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster. Source: http://omnionica.wikispaces.com/Zoroaster
The principal religion on ancient Persia (modern-day Iran), it was founded in more than 3000 years ago by the Prophet Zarathustra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster. (Estimates of the dates vary greatly). Zoroastrianism emphasizes the battle between good and evil in the world. Each individual is believed to have the free will to choose between these two forces. Contrary to popular belief, Zoroastrians do not worship fire; rather, it is a sacred symbol of purification.
Central fire at Zoroastrian shrine near Baku Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/apothecary/5921216114/
Though their numbers are relatively small today, Zoroastrian communities are thriving, and their influence on world history is significant. Several of the great empire builders of Persia were Zoroastrians, and it is believed that the Magi from the Christian nativity were Zoroastrians as well. Many scholars argue that Zoroastrianism had a substantial influence on the development of later monotheistic religions, namely Judaism and Christianity.
Faravahar, symbol of Zoroastrianism. Source: Walter S. Arnold, http://stonecarver.com/
Below are some of my favorite resources on Zoroastrianism for kids, including a video, websites, books, and even a comic!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.
Zoroastrianism for Kids
This video is one of the only ones on Zoroastrianism I found aimed at young kids. It is a cute, animated, and short, covering all the basics of the religion.
For a great, hands-on activity, try this simple sacred fire jar craft from Highhill Education (a really great homeschool blog with very creative activities for kids!)
The Stone: A Persian Legend of the Magi would be a particularly interesting choice for those coming from a Christian background. It is based on tales told to Marco Polo of the Persian legend of the Magi, the three wise men who paid homage to Jesus soon after His birth. Told from the perspective of the Magi, it focuses on their journey to see Jesus and the mysterious gift they receive in return.
And finally, I was so happy to discover a comic about the life of Zoroaster! Zarathushtra is based on the traditional account of the Prophet’s life, told in a way that children will find very engaging.
Our giveaway runs through the month of August, so enter below for a chance to win! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. If the winner is outside of the shipping area of one of the prizes, that prize will then be included in the next prize package. (See our full giveaway rules).
From Chicago Review Press, Kid’s Guide to Arab American History (US shipping only): Award-winning guide to the diversity of Arab American experience, with fun extension activities and biographies of famous Arab Americans
Get ready for some spring fun with the Hindu festival of colors! Today you can find me over on Multicultural Kid Blogs sharing some great Holi crafts and activities, including coloring pages, party ideas, and safety tips!
Spiritual education is a keystone of how I am raising my sons, and I am always inspired to hear how other parents are working to raise their children along a spiritual path. In the series Parenting and Faith I feature posts from bloggers discussing how their religion or philosophy influences their parenting. I am so pleased to share a post today from Anna of In The Playroom, about what Islam teaches about parenting.
Thanks to Leanna for inviting me to take part in her parenting and faith series. I’ll be sharing some of what Islam teaches about parenting and how we implement this in our day to day family life.
Hi! I’m Anna from In The Playroom where I share simple ideas for kids activities including sensory play and crafts, and Fa firroo ila-allah where I share a inspirational Islamic quotes from quran, hadith and Islamic history. First of all, let me introduce the family. We have 3 boys aged 6, 4 and 3, and then there is me and their dad. I became Muslim at 13 years old, coming from a non practising Catholic family background and their dad, my husband, is from a Sri Lankan Muslim family. We got married at 18 (me) and 19 (him) years old and had the boys a few years later.
I had always wanted to have children, and to focus my energy and time on their upbringing. Islam tells that the effort we put into caring for our families and nurturing our children is an act of worship when we do this with the intention of pleasing Allah (God). Worship is not just praying or reading Quran (although I would not diminish the importance of those acts) but worship can also be teaching our children right from wrong, cooking good food to keep our children healthy and well and letting them know to thank Allah for providing our food and giving us our bodies and our health. Worship can be found in all the little moments of motherhood for a Muslim mum.
Many places in Quran we hear of Prophets hoping and asking Allah for offspring, like the well known verses of Zakariya (peace be upon him) in Surah Maryam, or when Ibrahim (peace be upon him) called out:
رب هب لي من الصالحين
Oh my Lord, grant me a righteous son! (37:100)
The value of children is so priceless, and they are so precious. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to raise these beautiful and innocent souls.
I’ve never allowed anyone to make me feel belittled in the role of a stay at home mum. I’ve always felt that this is the right choice for our family, and although I now work from home I’m still present all the time if the children need me. My children are still young, but as they grow older there will still be challenges, and they remain in need of guidance throughout each and every stage of their childhood.
Islam has given us guidance on how to bring up children, with many hadiths (sayings of the Prophet peace be upon him) emphasising gentleness towards children. With so many confusing messages in today’s society, I feel it’s so important to give them a strong feeling of belonging within the family. Spending time with family should be fun, we need to build trust and openness with our kids so that they can come to us with their questions and problems. I never want my kids to be scared to come and ask for help and advice from me, or from their dad.
One of my favourite hadiths about gentleness is:
عَلَيْكِ بِالرِّفْقِ فَإِنَّ الرِّفْقَ لَا يَكُونُ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلَّا زَانَهُ وَلَا يُنْزَعُ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا شَانَهُ
You must be gentle. Verily, gentleness is not in anything except that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything except that it disgraces it. Source: Musnad Ahmad 24417, Grade: Sahih
This hadith is often cited as a reminder of how we should treat children, and these beautiful words have a lot of value. In fact our youngest son’s name comes from this hadith (Rafiq, which means gentle).
My ultimate aim in raising my children is to raise good, honest and kind individuals who love and respect Allah (God) and who leave a positive impact, whether big or small, on those they meet. I want them to be happy, and I want them to be good people. I’m pretty sure these aims are universal in many parents no matter what the religion or nationality. We are all striving to do the best for our kids, and I take inspiration from so many parents, both Muslim and non Muslim.
Anna is a London-based stay at home mum to three boys. Her blog In The Playroom is a parenting and lifestyle blog, about playing, learning, and life with young children, including special needs. She shares kids crafts and activities which are simple and easy for any parent to do with the supplies you probably already have in your home. Anna’s site Fa firroo ila-allah showcases inspirational Islamic quotes from quran, hadith and Islamic history.