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How does your family welcome Ramadan?
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 19 - 05 - 2017

Saudi Gazette
Ramadan is like a special guest who only comes once a year and is beloved by Muslims all over the world. It is the month which brings countless blessings, and in which we can earn the mercy and forgiveness of our Lord.
As adults, parents, teachers, and leaders in the community, we want our children to be just as happy and excited about Ramadan as we are, and more. How can we involve them in welcoming the month of Ramadan, and in becoming dedicated to observe the fast and prayers throughout the whole month?
Due to the television and Internet, our children see all the festivities and happiness that surround the non-Muslim holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, and others. They see the lit up homes, the decorations, wrapped gifts, and celebrations, but we do not partake in those holidays. That is all the reason why we need to make the coming of Ramadan and Eid a happy occasion for our children. We should bring about a lot of hype and excitement surrounding Ramadan.
Creating an uplifting ambiance in the home will give the children something to look forward to, and will make Ramadan dear to their hearts, without of course neglecting to teach them the significance of fasting and worship.
Clinical psychologist, Haleh Banani, said, "The objective is to develop a positive association with Ramadan for our kids, in order to increase their spirituality. It's about creating a certain atmosphere in the home. With a little time and effort, we can make Ramadan special for the kids."
We have compiled a number of ways and fun ideas that different families have adopted for welcoming Ramadan. Let us know, which is your favorite? We would also like to hear the special ways our readers celebrate Ramadan with their families.
1. Decorating the home is a sure way of getting the kids enthusiastic about Ramadan. You can use lights both inside and outside of the home. Hang lanterns and signs of "Ramadan Kareem" that you can find at the store, or order on-line, or your kids can make. Supply them with some art and crafts materials and you will be surprised how creative they can be.
2. Designate a small, coffee table in the corner of your living room and decorate it with special Ramadan items. Cover the table in a red table cloth with the Islamic artistic patterns on it. Adorn the table with the things that make Ramadan so special. Lay out the Holy Qur'an on a decorative wooden book-holder; also put a fancy bowl of dates, an Arabic coffee pot, crystal coffee cups, some supplication booklets, and candles.
3. Use a Ramadan calendar. Print out a calendar for each child and hang it up on the wall, so young children can mark and count all the days they were able to fast. Promise them a reward at the end of the month for fasting a certain number of days.
4. During Ramadan, start something new with your family, such as learning a Hadith a day. Each day, read a saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with a brief commentary on the lessons that can be learned from the Hadith. Some sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are really like short stories that children will love, for example the following story.
Prophet Muhammad said, "A person visited his brother in another town and Allah sent an angel to wait for him on his way. The angel said, ‘Where do you intend to go?' The man answered, ‘I intend to go to my brother in this town.' The angel said, ‘Have you done any favor to him, the repayment of which you intend to get?' He said: ‘No, I love him for the sake of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious.' Thereupon the angel said, ‘I am a messenger to you from Allah to inform you that Allah loves you as you love your brother.'" (Sunan Abu Dawud)
5. Play some Ramadan songs in the home so the kids will anticipate the approaching Ramadan. Beautiful songs to help your children get into the Ramadan spirit are: Ramadan Moon by Yusuf Islam and Ramadan by Maher Zain.
6. Another activity that you can prepare now to implement in Ramadan is the good deeds bucket. Write down on small pieces of paper one good deed on each paper, such as help mom in the kitchen, read 5 pages of the Holy Qur'an, serve food to the neighbors, pray a voluntary prayer, call my grandparents. Fold up each paper and put the bunch of papers in a pretty basket or bucket. Each day of Ramadan, the kids have to pick a random paper, like a raffle, and they must do whatever good deed they picked.
7. Involve your kids in searching for delicious recipes for soups, meals, or desserts that they would like you to make during Ramadan. And better yet, let them help you cook soups and bake sweets during Ramadan.
8. Invite your child's friends over before Ramadan and give them a brief talk on the importance of Ramadan, and how our good deeds are multiplied up to seventy times more in Ramadan. Encourage them to read Qur'an daily because it is the month that the Qur'an was first revealed. When your child is having fun around friends, he/she will be more receptive of the lesson you would like to give. Give them an activity to do, such as making Ramadan greetings cards or making paper lanterns.
9. Create iftar bags with your children. In each bag, you can put fresh fruit, a bundle of dates, juice, laban, lentils, some tea bags, and sugar. Go with your children to a poverty stricken neighborhood, and pass out the iftar bags.
10. Teach your children that Ramadan is also the month of charity. Before Ramadan starts, give each child a large bag and ask them to go to their rooms and fill their bags with toys, story books, and clothes that are in good condition to give to the poor. Make it into a competition, so the children will want to give more than their siblings. You can you're your children's donations to refugee camps overseas or give them to poor families in your town.
11. Have your children fill out a gratitude chart, in which they list all the blessings they are thankful to Allah for: family, a home, delicious food, chocolate, friends, toys, health, eyesight, the beautiful sky, and the list goes on and on. They can color it and hang it in their rooms or the living room. It helps remind them to be grateful to Allah for what they have.
12. Set Ramadan goals. Discuss with your children what they would like to accomplish in Ramadan. It could be memorizing verses of the Qur'an, reading the entire Qur'an in the month of Ramadan, praying fajr on time, and praying the nighttime voluntary prayers. Ramadan is the perfect time to stop bad habits, such as saying bad words, backbiting, hitting, or lying. Use Ramadan as the time to refine our character.
With only one week left for Ramadan, now is the time to set the tone for a month of greater happiness and closeness to Allah.

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