Friday is the most important day of the week in the Islamic calendar and yet, as a Muslim living in the West, it is sadly very easy to overlook and neglect. Life carries on at a hectic pace, business continues on as normal and most people often consider themselves fortunate if they can make it to Jummah prayers. It’s the responsibility of the individual to slow down and recognise the value of the day. Particularly since having children this has played on my mind. How could I, as a mother, ensure that Jummah is properly valued by my children as the most blessed day of the week? How can I truly instill within them a sense of its importance when others around them do not share that appreciation? As with most other questions that present themselves in the educating and raising of my children, I turned to craft for the answer and our ‘Alhumdulillah it’s Jummah’ series was born!
Earlier this year Minaret Mountain Books released its wonderful first title, ‘It’s Jummah Day’ by Devina Aisha Sharma and Roger Ibn Tyrone and this was the final impetus for me to jump into a project I’d had in mind for some time. I wanted to take the Sunnahs associated with Jummah, one each Friday, and present them in a child friendly way through craft. I began by identifying the Sunnah I wanted to work with and their accompanying hadith and then wrote a list of the kinds of activities I wanted to share with my children. I managed to come up with a list of eight and over the following eight weeks, I shared a craft or activity and Sunnah each Friday.
Salman (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet PBUH said, “If a man takes a bath on Friday, cleans himself as much as he can, oils his hair, applies perfume available in his house, sets forth for the mosque, does not separate two people (to make a seat for himself), performs as many prayers as written (by Allah) for him, remains silent when the Imam speaks, his sins between this Friday and the following Friday will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
In week one, I chose to focus on the Sunnah of having a bath/shower. Our accompanying activity was to make bath bombs. Our recipe was a huge success and the children absolutely loved using the bath bombs we made.
The recipe we used was as follows:
1/2 a cup of citric acid
1 cup of baking soda
1/2 a cup of Epsom salt
3/4 of a cup of cornflour/starch
2 tablespoons of oil (suitable for use on skin)
2 teaspoons of witch hazel or water
1 teaspoon of vanilla
30-40 drops of essential oil (we used lavender and chamomile)
You can also use food colouring (which we attempted but as you can see it wasn’t diluted enough and didn’t spread throughout the mix properly- we’ll have to experiment again!) Method:
Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl.
Mixture should all hold together firmly when pressed without crumbling but not be wet.
Press mixture firmly into moulds.
Allow to dry for 48 hours and then press out of moulds.
Allah’s Messenger PBUH said, “The taking of a bath on Friday is compulsory for every male Muslim who has attained the age of puberty and also the cleaning of his teeth with siwak, and the using of perfume if it is available.”
In week two we made ‘perfume’ after learning about the Sunnah of wearing scent. My middle son had a few weeks previously, taken an almost empty water bottle from the bottom of our pram and begun filling it with petals and flowers that had fallen to the ground as we walked. It was a beautiful and calming addition to our walk and we replicated it the following week for the purpose of this exercise. Surprisingly the resulting scent was really quite beautiful!
The Prophet PBUH said “Any man who performs ghusl on Friday, perfumes himself if he has perfume, wears the best of his clothes, then goes to the mosque and offers as many prayers as he wishes while not harming anybody, then listens quietly while the Imam speaks until he offers the prayer, will have all his sins between that Friday and the next forgiven.”
Since it’s the Sunnah to wear your best, clean clothes on Fridays, I thought it would be fun to make some paper dolls with the children, designing and making their own new, best clothes. I had some multicultural paper dolls in my craft box but also foam ones which, although not ideal, I chose on balance for their durability and the fact that my children could have multiple games with these. Unfortunately the ones I had in a range of skin tones were extremely flimsy and better suited to a different project. Thick card or foam is probably the best material for the doll. Then we raided my scrap paper stash and found a rainbow! I find that children from a wide range of ages love making and dressing and redressing paper dolls. I enjoyed making them well into my mid teens as my love for historical costume and fashion design took over.
As you design and cut it’s also a wonderful time to talk (depending on the age of the children) about appropriate Islamic dress, what we need to cover in the home vs outside, the Sunnah of dressing ones self etc.
Week four was all about visiting the mosque and becoming familiar and comfortable with its features. While not a Sunnah as such, it is nonetheless important for our little ones to feel completely at ease in this environment especially on Fridays.
I wrote a book for my eldest son Ayman and his little friends about 3 years ago titled ‘My Mosque’. We went on a special visit to the mosque, well before prayer time, for the specific purpose of doing a tour. I wanted the children to have the opportunity to experience the mosque when it was empty of people and when they weren’t engaged in prayer so that they could properly see all the special features and so that the purpose of those features could be explained to them. Part of being comfortable and confident in a space involves understanding it. Each page of the book relates to a different part of the mosque- the place where we remove our shoes, make wudu, the mihrab, the minbar and so on and provides an explanation in rhyming verse.
The idea behind this book (which I gave to all the children as text alone) is that the children illustrate it themselves. Of course they could draw the places they visited which would be beautiful but Ayman and I chose to illustrate our copy with photos that I took of him in and around the mosque which made it personal to him. Older children (Ayman was only 4 at the time) who might be trusted with a camera would also no doubt using this as an opportunity to practice their photography skills. After we’d printed our photographs and cut out the accompanying text we stuck it onto cardboard and laminated it. Ayman still enjoys looking back at it now and my younger children have also enjoyed reading it.
In week 5 we visited the mosque for jummah and listened carefully to the khutbah so that we could discuss it together afterwards.
When we returned home we made this craft from cardboard showing the congregation all lined up ready to pray together or listen to the khutbah. This was the second time I had done this craft with the children and I’ve found it to be extremely popular. The children seem to really enjoy adding details to their little people and decorating them. You could easily add detail using materials other than paper which would make it even more exciting!
It was narrated by Aws ibn Aws al-Thaqafi that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “Whoever does ghusl on Friday and causes (his wife) to do ghusl, and sets out early, and comes close to the imam and listens and keeps quiet, for every step he takes he will have the reward of fasting and praying qiyaam for one year.”
In a world filled with smart phones, Google maps and GPS’s, reading and interpreting maps and giving directions is somewhat of a dying art! My two boys happen to be map obsessed and we have a collection of maps and street directories in our playroom. Rare is the car journey we take without a street directory in the back seat and without a steady stream of directions flowing from our mini back seat drivers!
I think map reading is a wonderful skill that is so important to confer upon our children. A sense of direction, the ability to navigate and to read coordinates are all excellent, practical things to have. So for week 6’s jummah activity, I felt it would be nice for my eldest to create his own map of the route from our home to jummah on foot and for the younger to trace the route using a pen on a photocopy of the relevant street directory pages. My eldest really loved this activity- especially puzzling over the necessary scale and thinking out which landmarks he wanted to include. It was a wonderful afternoon well spent.
The Messenger of Allah PBUH is reported to have said “Whoever sends salutations upon me 80 times on a Friday, will have 80 years of sins forgiven”. When the Sahabah (may Allah SWT be pleased with them) enquired how to do so, Rasulullah PBUH replied, “Say, ‘Oh Allah send salat upon Muhammed, Your Servant, Your Messenger, the Un-lettered Prophet.’
In week 7 we focused on learning different forms of salawat and on committing them to memory. Studies have demonstrated repeatedly that writing things by hand assists with retention. So we created beautiful versions of different salawat in calligraphy (or our very best handwriting) with which to decorate the playroom with. The salawat in my picture is featured on the nalain Shareef, the motif associated with the sandal imprint of the Prophet PBUH as another visual reminder of him.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet PBUH said, ‘“Whoever recites Surat Al-Kahf on Jumu’ah will have illumination from the light from one Jumu’ah to the next.”
In week 8 we did 4 crafts in order to bring to life and illustrate the 4 key stories from the Surah.
1.The story of the people of the cave (verses 9-28) is a wonderful lesson about patience and remaining in the presence of the righteous when tested in regard to your religion. The Quran states, “And patiently stick with those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, seeking His pleasure. Do not let your eyes look beyond them, desiring the luxuries of this worldly life. And do not obey those whose hearts We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who follow only their desires and whose state is total loss.’ (18:28)
To illustrate this story we made a cave using paper, an old box, some painted egg cartons and added some wooden toys from the playroom. You could make a cave from anything really- children would also have a ball using Lego or Duplo or other blocks. The children can then attempt a re-telling and re-creation of the story themselves.
2. The lesson to be taken from the story of the two gardens is of course that worldly wealth is only temporary while the pleasures of the afterlife are eternal and infinite. The story teaches us to be humble and shelve our pride in our worldly adornments and to always demonstrate gratitude towards Allah SWT. The Quran states that “Wealth and children are the adornment of this worldly life, but the everlasting good deeds are far better with your Lord in reward and in hope.” (18:46)
We made a collage from old gardening magazines to show the contrast between the wealthy man’s garden before and after its destruction, the contrast between his garden and his neighbour’s and to speculate upon what the gardens of Jannah might look like.
3. The story of Musa AS and Al-Khidr is all about humility and remaining conscious of the fact that there is always someone more knowledgeable than you, Al-Alim.
For our craft, we took the part of this story where Allah SWT tells Musa AS that he should take a fish in a large basket and that he would meet Al Khidr at the place where he loses the fish. We created a simple basket and fish from materials we had around the home.
4. The lesson from the story of Dhul-Qarnayn is that we should, when placed in positions of power, have sincerity in the manner in which we carry our our deeds. Allah SWT states in the Quran, ‘Say, O Prophet, “Shall we inform you of who will lose the most deeds? They are those whose efforts are in vain in this worldly life, while they think they are doing good!” (18: 103-104)
We took from the story of Dhul-Qarnayn, the construction of the wall to assist the people against Ya’juj and Ma’juj. We created a sponge painted wall upon which we wrote the qualities of Dhul-Qarnayn as a leader as we came across them in the story.
For excellent re-tellings of the stories from Surah Al Kahf, and explanations of the lessons therein, you may wish to visit www.backtojannah.com.
My children thoroughly enjoyed this series and I can honestly say that I did to. For me personally, the highlight was our week 8 work on Surah Al Kahf. In order to teach the stories contained within the surah and to make the messages clear to the children I had to work on really making sure I comprehended them clearly myself and in doing so, I enriched my own understanding.
I’m sure we can all do a little bit more around the home and within our families to make Fridays a special and blessed time for our little ones- by taking them to Jummah prayers, by reading Surah Al Kahf, by even sharing a special meal or even by doing one of the crafts I’ve shared here. It’s my belief that while they may not recall the exact details of these Fridays into their adulthood, our little ones will recall and keep close to their hearts the feelings of happiness they associated with these special days.
At @kitabkids we document the many ways I attempt to create an Islamic environment in our home and to plant love for our faith in the hearts of my children. This is generally done through play, reading and also through craft. Unsurprisingly, I’ve found that my children are extremely responsive to opportunities for learning in a hands on manner. Slowing down and doing a craft activity gives me an opportunity to engage with the children about the subject matter in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise manage were I to simply sit down and start speaking. While I started the account more as a personal record than anything else, it has been a joy to share our experiences and activities with others all around the world and to interact with other mums who share the same goals and ideals alhumdulillah.