Ramadan Preparation: Ten tips to prepare your family for Ramadan
01. Buy all necessities for the month of Ramadan before Ramadan so you can spend less time during the holy month rushing around. You can be more focused on your religious rituals and spiritual development. Everyone in the family, even the kids, can participate, writing a shopping list, preparing some meals to be stored in the freezer.
02. If you have gotten into bad sleeping habits throughout the year, start readjusting now so you can wake up for Fajr prayer.
03. Sunnah fasts of Shaaban (the month before Ramadan) help to prepare for Ramadan and help to make the transition into the holy month a smooth one.
04. Reduce TV watching and prepare the family for the new spirit of Ramadan. Engage with your kids more and more in creative activities that remind them of Ramadan. (Suggested activities including reading the moral story books in group).
05. Organize your tape/CD collection to make it easy to select and to play nice nasheed to sing along together or Quran and Dua recitation, so as to introduce the spirit of the month gradually.
06. Plan ahead for the time you will spend at home in order not to lose the balance between your responsibility as a parent to supervise the children's studies and your engagement in religious practices such as reading Quran and praying Salat.
07. Plan ahead if your daughter needs a hijab to accompany you to the mosque. If possible, get shoes for the kids that are easy to tie when they leave the mosque. Do you or the kids need prayer rugs for prayer? Plan transportation to the mosque and back home.
08. Prepare as much cooking as you can before Ramadan. Here are some time-saving tips:
1. Prepare some vegetables and store them in the freezer to have them ready when needed.
2. If you soak dates in milk or water and eat them for Iftar, pit the dates before Ramadan.
3. Chop onions, garlic and store them in the freezer to have them ready when cooking during Ramadan.
09. If you are planning to invite guests for Iftar, the best time to do that is during your monthly period (menstruation). This has several advantages:
1. You will be able to taste the food that is going to be served.
2. You won't be engaged in some acts of worship so you'll have more time for cooking.
3. You won't have guilt feelings for staying after 'Isha' with the guests and not going to the mosque.
10. Prepare your kids before Ramadan that they have to help you more in housework and in setting the table and preparing the Iftar. Relate their action with the notion of Sadaqah and good deeds. Remind them that the reward of their good deeds is multiplied during Ramadan.
Eight tips on sharing Ramadan with your neighbors:
The Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.&h.h.) said: "He is not a believer who eats his fill while his neighbor remains hungry by his side." (Baihaqi)
"By Allah, he has no faith (the Prophet [p.b.u.h.&h.h.] repeated it three times) whose neighbors are not safe from his wickedness." (Bukhari)
Ramadan is a great opportunity to share Islam and more specifically, its values of spirituality, generosity and kindness with others, especially your neighbors. It's a great time to do Dawa. And Dawa is very much needed in the current atmosphere of anger, tension and sadness.
Here are some ideas on how you can share the joy with your neighbors this Ramadan.
01. Begin with Dua
Make Dua that Allah give you and your family the sincerity, strength, motivation and wisdom to do this. Dawa is hard work, and it needs preparation, commitment and organization.
02. Put up a Ramadan banner on your door
This can be something handmade or something more formal.
But don't stop there. Print out a fact sheet on Ramadan and stick that on the door to educate readers passing by about the blessed month and what it means to Muslims.
03. Send neighbors Iftar snacks
Include a note with the food that the month of Ramadan is here and you are sharing your joy with them.
You can offer snacks that are not just "Muslims" but also "non-Muslims" (i.e. American, African, Middle Eastern, Indo-Pakistani, etc.). You can include index cards with the snacks listing all of the ingredients. This will help neighbors avoid food that causes allergies.
04. Give kids Ramadan Mubarak balloons and candy
Let your neighbors' kids also feel the happiness of Ramadan by including chocolate and candy among your snacks. Balloons also add a nice touch, and if you can get some printed which have "Ramadan Mubarak" written on them, they may remember the blessed month even after it has passed.
05. Publish Ramadan information in your neighborhood newsletter
If you are part of a tenants' association, a group within your housing complex or your neighborhood block parents' association and they publish a newsletter, inform them about Ramadan and prepare a short write-up about the month. This is a great way of informing many more neighbors about Ramadan.
06. Have a neighborhood Iftar gathering
You don't have to invite everyone. Perhaps just the closest neighbors can attend this event. Send handmade invitations for an "Iftar gathering" at most a week in advance (avoid the word "party" as it may be misunderstood to mean a gathering including alcohol, loud music, etc.).
Ask about allergies or other food issues before establishing the menu. Include vegetarian, American and "ethnic" food.
Be sure to invite Muslim family and friends who are comfortable interacting with non-Muslims to this event, and brief them about how they should properly share Ramadan with the neighbors. Also, have some written material on Ramadan available for your guests.
At the gathering:
Be cordial, generous and friendly, but maintain Islamic rules of behavior and modesty. This should not be a "party" in the common understanding, but more of a religious celebration that is spiritual and respectful to all.
Don't impose information. Just let non-Muslim guests ask questions, if they want to. As well, be ready for questions about Islam and violence/terrorism, the oppression of women, etc. Give neighbors the benefit of the doubt and clarify their misunderstanding in a calm, gentle manner.
07. Get your kids on it
Tell your kids to inform other neighbors' kids what Ramadan is all about and have the children invite their classmates to your Iftar gatherings.
08. Talk about what Ramadan means to you
What's it like to fast? How do you work/go to school and still fast? These are some questions you may be asked. Don't just point your guests to the pamphlets. Tell them and use some personal examples they can relate to.
Adopted from soundvision.com with slight modifications.
Seventeen tips for Parents to Present Ramadan in your Child's Class:
Parents talking to their children's principals, teachers and classmates in public schools about Ramadan are of immense importance. By doing so, Muslim children feel less awkward identifying themselves as Muslims, since someone in an authority position has discussed what they believe what they do. As a result, the children often feel more confident and secure.
Well, Muslim children need to feel the importance of their own celebrations and holidays, especially since we are living in a non-Muslim environment where kids don't see fancy lights and decorations, commercial hoopla or consistent reminders of the "holiday season" during Ramadan.
And of course, talking to your child's class about Ramadan is a great way to make Dawa to non-Muslim kids and Muslim kids as well, in particular those who may come from non-practicing Muslim families.
There are a couple of tips to keep in mind when approaching the school or your child's teachers about presenting, as well as for how you present the information to the child's class.
01. Start early
Calling your child's teacher in the middle of Ramadan asking to do a presentation on the topic is too late. Now, less than a month before Ramadan is the best time to bring up the issue, especially considering Christmas is coming up and holidays are on the minds of most people, teachers and students included.
Starting early also helps you think about and gather the right materials to make a good presentation.
02. Get permission from your child's teacher
While parents do have a lot of clout in the school system, this does not allow them to show up unexpectedly one day at their son or daughter's class to do a presentation on Ramadan.
Send a letter giving a general indication that you want something done about Ramadan. Then wait for the teacher to call. If he or she does not do so within a week, call them and tell them you are following up on the letter you sent earlier.
03. Select the right period in which to do the presentation
Does your child study Social Studies? Or does he or she have a period once a week for Moral and Religious education? If so, suggest to the teacher that you would like to do the presentation during these periods. Or, you can of course ask the teacher if he or she has ideas about which time would be best to come in and do the presentation.
04. Be polite but firm
Speaking nicely to people is part of our Deen, including non-Muslims. We should remember that the purpose of this exercise is to not just educate the students, but the teachers as well. Being polite and courteous will not detract from your desire to present. It will serve to build bridges and communication, and could lead to further contact to do presentations on other Islam-related topics and more teacher-parent cooperation in the future, Insha Allah.
05. Ask the teacher what areas to cover and how long it should be
This helps to adjust your presentation to the age level of the students, as well as connect it to what they are already learning. This doesn't mean you can't bring in other information, but knowing what to cover from the teacher helps you put down what has to be covered and from there you can develop more points on these or related topics. Asking how long the presentation should be can also help you decide how much you can include in your presentation.
06. Read, prepare, read, prepare
Now that you've gotten the permission, you don't just sit back and wait for the night before the presentation to put it together.
Remember, if you want to appeal to the students, especially younger ones, you are going to need more than just a talk. Visuals are a great help. You can get a Ramadan banner picture of Muslims fasting, show part of a video aimed at children about Ramadan (see Adam's World's Ramadan Mubarak video . To get the right material, you will have to find out where to get it from, and ordering it might take a couple of weeks.
Preparing is important, even though you may have fasted all of your life and think you know all about Ramadan. Get a children's Islamic book and read what it says about Ramadan. Or an article written by a teenager about Ramadan. This will also help you understand what points to emphasize in your presentation.
Reading up will also clarify any incorrect cultural norms that may have seeped into the
practice of Ramadan which you may not have been aware of. Talk to a knowledgeable Muslim for advice as well.
07. Talk to your son or daughter about the presentation
Who would know better the mindset of the kids in the class than your son or daughter? Consult them about what to include, what the kids like, what kind of things they are interested in. Not only will this improve your presentation, Insha Allah, but it will also make Ameena or Saeed feel important and more confident as individuals, and as Muslims.
08. A few days before the presentation
Call the teacher to check the date and time of the schedule. This will serve to remind him or her about your visit and prepare the class accordingly. It will also help you get the exact time and date.
09. Write presentation points on note cards
Reading off papers about Ramadan will not hold the interest of many people, young or old. Instead, writing brief notes on note cards that you can look at so you don't miss any topic will help you avoid straying from the subject while allowing you to make eye contact with your audience and maintain a conversational style of presentation.
10. Practice your presentation in front of your son/daughter
Practicing helps you identify what can be improved, changed or omitted. Practicing in front of Ameena will give you the opportunity to present before one of the kids in the class who can really give you the best advice.
It will also help you time your presentation, so you can make it shorter or longer.
11. Dress for success
This does not mean pulling out the Armani suit or the most expensive dress you have. It just means looking as a Muslim should-clean, respectable, professional and Islamically covered. Clothes don't always "make the man" but they do affect others' perception of you.
12. Be early
Teachers and students are busy people. They have a certain curriculum to cover. The fact that they've squeezed in your presentation is somewhat of a privilege. Don't take advantage of this by wasting their time by coming late. And anyways, Muslims should be on time as a principle.
Coming early can also help you set up your audio visual material.
13. Make Dua...
Before your presentation. Ask Allah to help you convey this message sincerely, properly and clearly. And say Bismillah.
14. Speak calmly and clearly
It's important not to race through the presentation, nor to talk too slowly. A clear, conversational style, but emphasis on the major points or terms you want the students to understand can help convey the message properly.
15. When answering questions
If you don't know something, say so. Then check up on it and get back to the teacher. Ask him or her to convey the response.
16. Thank Allah...
For this opportunity He blessed you with and your ability to go through with it.
17. Send a thank you note to the teacher and class...
Thanking them for their time and attention, as well as their cooperation.