Our Ramadan lessons: the month of Qur’an

Ramadan mubaarak everyone! The month of Qur’an has officially begun and today is our first day of fasting. I’m not fasting this year due to being pregnant and breastfeeding, but I’m doing my best to feel the Ramadan spirit anyway. There’s definitely something in the air whenever Ramadan arrives. We went out for a walk around the block last night at sunset, and the air smelled so fresh and crisp — Ramadan had just been announced an hour earlier, but even if it hadn’t, I think I would have known it just by that beautiful feeling.

As I mentioned in my last post, my main goal for Pippin this Ramadan is that she learns exactly what Ramadan is — and it is first and foremost the month of the Qur’an. Here are a few of the things we’re doing as a family this month to emphasize the Qur’an:

Story time! The day the Qur’an was first revealed

Pippin loves stories, but one I’ve never told her is the story of how the Qur’an came to us. This month we’re going to focus on that story. I’m planning to tell her a very basic “toddlerized” version of the story, and then let her ask whatever questions come to her mind.

I’ll keep reminding her of the story throughout the month, adding new bits and pieces as we go, and asking her to teach her sister and father the story as well. She loves to tell stories and to teach her baby sister, and it’s a good way to check her understanding and strengthen her knowledge.

I am always encouraging her to form the habit that one of my first Islamic teachers taught me — that whenever you learn something new, you should share it. And that is exactly what the first revelations were about:

Read in the Name of your Lord, the one who created — created man from a clinging substance. Read! and your Lord is the Most Generous — who taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not. (Al-‘Alaq: 1-5)

Followed soon after by:

O you who covers himself (with a garment)! Arise and warn! (Al-Muddaththir: 1-2)

From the very beginning, the Prophet (saw) received revelation from Allah and then was immediately expected to convey that knowledge — why not start teaching that concept to our children from the start as well?

Listen to lots of Qur’an, more than usual

We are planning to play the recitation of the Qur’an a lot. Different reciters, different surahs, different styles of recitation… there’s something for every one! If your kids are old enough for a little screen time, you could even play a video of taraaweeh, especially if they aren’t able to attend the late night prayers at the masjid.

I usually don’t recommend having background noise while children play because I feel it’s an added distraction when they’re trying to focus fully on whatever they’re doing, but during Ramadan I make an exception. I keep the volume fairly low, and I try to keep it to about an hour to an hour and a half per day, unless the kids specifically ask for more.

Recite Qur’an yourself, more than usual

This is where being a hifdh student really comes in handy! I’m doing extra revision during Ramadan anyway, so my kids will hear me reciting every spare moment I get (I will have to in order to complete my revision goals and still have time to read my daily portion of Qur’an!). I will mention to Pippin that I’m doing this because the Prophet Muhammad (saw) used to revise the entire Qur’an during Ramadan, and that when she memorizes more, she will join me in revising.

The kids will also benefit from hearing both their parents reciting in general (i.e. not just for revision) this month, as we aim to read as much Qur’an as possible.

Attend tafseer lectures or listen online

We don’t have any tafseer lectures or Islamic programs that are at a convenient time for us (the only one I know of is after the kids’ bedtime and not designed for their ages anyway), but alhamdulillah we have the blessing of technology and there are countless programs being run online or livestreamed.

We are planning to play tafseer lectures on the computer for the whole family to hear. Although the lectures are meant for adults, I’m sure they’ll still absorb bits and pieces. Kids understand more than we give them credit for!

I’m planning on listening to a tafseer series on the seven Ha Meem surahs, and after dinner we as a family will listen to a different tafseer. The kids can either sit with us and listen, or play in their play area which is nearby, whichever they like. There is no compulsion in religion, after all!

Other tips

The goal for us is consistency and repetition. Even if the children are too young to really understand the lectures, or too young to start memorizing, if we can continue this level of attachment to the Qur’an all the way through Ramadan, they will inevitably get the point that Ramadan has something to do with the Qur’an. If they learn only one thing this entire month, I’ll be happy if they just learn to associate Ramadan with Qur’an.

You may be thinking that all of these activities are really just things that the parent is doing and the child listens (or may not listen at all), and that’s true. But I feel like spending time creating activities and crafts in order to teach Qur’an is counter-intuitive. Pippin is not at an age yet where crafts are meaningful to her, and anyway I can’t imagine what kind of craft would really convey lessons from the Qur’an to her.

So rather than spend my Ramadan chasing after a toddler who doesn’t want to do her Ramadan activity of the day and regretting all the precious time I spent not observing Ramadan myself, I choose to spend my time in my own worship in ways that she can absorb or participate. I reflect on the story of revelation in a way that includes her. I listen to and read Qur’an at times that she can listen as well. I play lectures and allow her to benefit at the same time. This way I can reap the benefits of Ramadan without sacrificing any time with my children. I can raise my children in a way that they have opportunities to observe how we worship Allah and they are welcome to join in whenever they’re ready.

If you have any other ideas on ways to bring the love of Qur’an to our children, please share them in the comments below!

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