Ramadan & Our Families
The first Ramaḍān after you get married is different. You have additional responsibilities and your routine has changed. Just as you’d thought you had made enough adjustments in your life, Ramaḍān comes along.
Ramaḍān can sometimes challenge a relationship, especially if it involves rituals which are heavily cultural and, perhaps even, contrary to the spirit of the month (e.g elaborate ifṭārs and fancy ifṭār parties). Don’t make food the focus of your Ramaḍān. Make it about Allah, and you will witness immense blessings in your home and marriage.
The long days and hunger can affect your mood and make you feel ‘hangry’. This may test your patience and make you snap at your spouse. Ramadan is the month of cultivating ṣabr (patience). Be gentle and kind. Walk away when things get tense and control your tongue.
They Are a Garment for You
Within the āyāt about fasting, Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā) says,
> أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ ٱلصِّيَامِ ٱلرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَآئِكُمْ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ
“It has been made permissible for you to be intimate with your wives during the nights preceding the fast. They are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them” (2:187).
Spouses are described in this āyah as a ‘garment’, a source of comfort and peace.
Just as our clothes protect us from harm, we should protect each other from harm and ḥarām. Just as we adorn oneself with clothes, spouses adorn each other. Just as our clothes are attached to our bodies, likewise in marriage, there is a strong attachment and closeness to each other; a unique physical, emotional and spiritual bond which connects both spouses.
Our clothes cover us. Similarly, we should cover each other’s faults and protect each other’s secrets and dignity. Clothes give us comfort, and thus spouses should be a source of mutual comfort.
Sometimes our clothes may become tight for us and slightly uncomfortable. Or they may tear and need patching. Similarly, our marriages may go through rough patches. Instead of despairing, we should turn towards Allah and look inwardly as to how we could improve our conduct.
Seek the blessings of Ramaḍān and use them to strengthen your connection to each other by connecting to Allah. Support each other and encourage each other to increase in ʿibādah. Serve each other, share the knowledge that you have attained, and discuss your reflections with each other. Listen to a lecture or read a book together.
Make duʿā’ for your marriage and family. As the institution of marriage is under increasing threat, ask Allah to protect, strengthen and bless your marriage. Ask Him to make your relationship the means of attaining His pleasure.
Ramadan as Parents
Once you have children, you will probably look back wistfully at Ramaḍān pre-children. Ramaḍān post-children will be different. However, it is key to remember that ʿibādah is a comprehensive concept, and is not limited to reciting Qur’ān or performing tarāwīḥ. Looking after your children is indeed a great act of ʿibādah. You are raising the next generation of the ummah of Muḥammad ﷺ, and this is no small feat.
Ramaḍān in the state of nifās, without fasting, can be overwhelming, and can sometimes leave mums with a sense of guilt and inadequacy. Remember to try your best, and Allah will reward you for your intentions. The Prophet ﷺ said, “If a servant falls ill or travels, the likes of what he used to do when he was a resident (i.e. not travelling) and healthy will be recorded for him” (Bukhārī).
Even with fasting, Ramaḍān with young children can be challenging. Asking for help from other family members, and reciprocating in return can be helpful. For example, you may find a family member who is menstruating, willing to take care of your young children, whilst you perform tarāwīḥ in peace!
It is vital to be considerate and give your spouse their own ‘alone time with Allah’ whilst you take care of your children. Your spouse connecting with Allah will result in him/her being a better spouse and parent to your children.
Nurturing Our Children
As parents, we should be concerned about instilling moral and spiritual values in our children, and nurturing them to love Allah and His Messenger ﷺ. Some parents do not awaken their mature children for Fajr, thinking it will disrupt their sleep. Similarly, some will happily allow their mature children not to fast, under the pretext of ‘too much school work’ or ‘exams’.
On the contrary, we should nurture our children to love and perform ṣalāh and fast even before they reach puberty. Encourage them to fast when they are small, starting with one or two fasts, and build on this each year. Reward them as appropriate and make fasting exciting for them. On the day they manage to complete the fast, cook their favourite meal. When they do not manage to complete it, be gentle with them, and use it as an opportunity to teach them about tawbah (repentance) and not giving up.
Have age-appropriate discussions with them, and explain to them why this month is so special. Let them see your home transformed in this month to a home of worship and Qur’ān, so that this memory will always stay with them as they grow into adults.
Al-Rubayyiʿ b. Muʿawwidh (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhā) said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ sent a messenger to the settlements of the Anṣār surrounding Madīnah, in the morning of ʿĀshūrā’ to announce, ‘Whoever is observing the fast should complete it, and whoever has eaten something should not eat the rest of the day.’ After that, we used to fast on that day regularly and if Allah willed, we would also make our young children fast; and we would go to the Masjid. We used to make toys out of wool for them: if any one of them cried for food, we would give them the toy until it was time to open the fast” (Bukhārī).
This ḥadīth indicates that the companions (radiy Allāhu ʿanhum) used creative methods to encourage their young children to fast, even though they were not obligated to fast.
Tips on how to cultivate an atmosphere of īmān and ʿibādah in your home
• Share the stories of the Prophets, Companions and the pious people of the past.
• Recite Qur’ān together.
• Hold a daily family circle where you can have discussions and share reflections.
• Do fun and beneficial activities related to Ramaḍān. (There are lots of ideas on the internet for different crafts and activities.)
• Go for walks in nature, and remind each other about Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā). Recite Qur’ān together and do dhikr on your outings.
Remember to renew your intention whilst spending time with them, and you will be rewarded for this great act of ʿibādah (worship).
The Best House on the Block: Can the Angels Easily Identify Your House?
Make your house shine through reciting the Qur’ān. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The house in which the Qur’ān is recited appears to the inhabitants of the heaven as the stars appear to the inhabitants of the earth.” (Bayhaqī)
A Family of the Night Prayer: A Blessed Family
The Prophet ﷺ would awaken his wives in the last ten nights of Ramaḍān to perform the night prayer. Similarly, throughout the year, he would finish praying tahajjud and wake ʿĀ’ishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhā) up to pray tahajjud. His concern was not restricted to his spouses. Rather, he was actively involved in the spiritual nourishment of his adult daughter and son-in law. One night, he ﷺ knocked on the door of Fāṭimah and ʿAlī (radiy Allāhu ʿanhumā) and said, “Will you not get up (and pray)?” (Bukhārī).
Likewise, we should be eager for our spouses and children to not miss out on any good. By becoming a family of the night prayer, we will inshallah witness the blessings and tranquillity in our marriages, families and homes.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “May Allah have mercy upon a man who gets up at night, prays, and wakes his wife up. If she refuses, he sprinkles water on her face. And may Allah have mercy upon a woman who gets up at night, prays, and wakes her husband up. If he refuses, she sprinkles water on his face” (Aḥmad).
ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) used to pray for a large portion of the night, and when it would be the middle of the night, he would awaken his family for ṣalāh, saying to them, “Ṣalāh, ṣalāh!” and he would recite the verse, “Instruct your family to perform ṣalāh, and adhere to it yourself” (20:132).
Exhorting her husband to stand up for tahajjud, the wife of Abū Muḥammad Ḥabīb (raḥimahullāh) used to say to him at night, “The night has gone. Ahead of us lies a long journey, and the provisions are little. The caravans of the righteous have sped ahead of us, whilst we have remained behind.”
May Allah al-Ra’ūf (The Most Compassionate) fill our homes with love, compassion and īmān; and our hearts with hope, awe and love for Him.