As I watched my brother and sister-in-law get my two nieces ready for RIS in the morning my heart ached a little. I had no plans of bringing my 4 little ones to the Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention (RIS) this year on my own. I knew that it would be a really challenging and tiring day for all. But at the very last moment I decided to go! We had two double strollers, and two kids walking, plus three adults. Alhumdulillah, I am pleased to report that we survived the day!
It’s really hard to get the full experience of RIS, of properly listening to lectures and of looking around at the bazaar, while at the same time caring for little kids. However, I can confidently say, by the end of the day, the Islamic spirit was revived for all of us. It just is an experience like no other: being around such a large gathering of Muslims, being inspired by the wise words of many men and women, entering into the largest Islamic souk in Canada. There are just no words to describe that feeling of community. I’m so glad that I decided to go and that I was able to share the experience with my kiddos. These days kids are often bombarded with ads, products and decorations during this season of the year. So with RIS, having that little bit of Islamic spirit that they can experience and be proud to be a part of is awesome! I think it’s important for young children to have that sense of belonging, and not ALWAYS feel left out or different which is often the case for kids who live in this part of the world. With that said, RIS is geared more towards an adult audience, and may not be the best place for young children (though they do have a children’s program as well), there are many other ways we can instil that sense of Islamic spirit in our children on a daily basis.
When I first came to learn about Islam, I was just a child. I remember in first grade being really bummed out that I would not be celebrating all the holidays I used to celebrate as a Christian. I remember that feeling of being left out, of being different. I really have to hand it to my mom though because she always made sure my siblings and I felt that Islamic spirit at home. She gave us the latest Islamic kids dvds (Adam’s World and Muslim Scouts Adventures!), children’s nasheeds (Dawud Wharnsby!), and Islamic books (anyone remember the Invinsible Abdullah series?!). I remember driving in the car for 4 hours (I kid you not) just to get to Toronto and then visiting the ICNA bookstore and stocking up on Islamic material. My mom also made sure we attended the masjid regularly and that we learned how to read the Quran. She drove us to another city on Eid day just so we could see the Prophet Muhammad cartoon movie when it came to the theatres. She bought us little woven carpets to use as prayer mats and spoke with the school staff so we’d be able to use an empty room to pray in during school hours. She started the first Muslim Girl Guide unit in Ontario, that my sisters and I were a part of. I could go on and on, because I think my mom is amazing. You can see why I truly believe it is possible to create that Islamic spirit in the home for children. During my childhood, Islamic products and resources were not as widely available as they are nowadays. Especially with the advent of the internet, everything is literally at our fingertips! Here are some easy ways to create an Islamic spirit at home for children:
- Start a playgroup, Muslim Girl Guide/Boy Scout unit, or Islamic bookclub for children
- Let your kids pick out their own mini prayer mats, hijabs, and prayer hats.
- Include fun children’s Islamic books in your home library. Some of our favourites include Jannah Jewels by Umm Nura, Bismillah Soup by Asma Hussein, and Nightly News with Safa by Helal Musleh.
- If you allow your kids to watch TV, try Adam’s world dvds, Zaky’s Adventures dvds, or muslimkids.tv
- Include Islamic themed decor in your home. Of course we love the decorative pillows and banners from our SHOP! But there are so many options on the market these days, including amazing wall art by Poppetry.
- Have toys and games that children can relate to as Muslims. We adore the Muslim dolls from Dzaltastic, wooden toys from Eastern Toybox, and board games from Smart Ark!
- Play the Quran on a daily basis. We are obsessed with our portable Quran speaker! It amazingly changes colour with a slight tap on top, and the kids love taking turns doing that! It has many many amazing features, including how to pray!
- When your child is old enough, gift them their very own special Quran. I gave my eldest daughter turquoise zippered Quran a few years ago, and I am now eyeing the Rainbow Qurans from The Pampered Muslimah for my other children.
- Play some fun nasheeds, we love Dawud Wharnsby, Mustaqeem, and Zain Bhika!
- Have weekly family halaqahs. Sit together as a family to discuss new things you’ve learned, listen to a lecture together, or read a book together.
How do you create an Islamic spirit in your home? I would love it if you shared it with me in the comments below!