Establishing family traditions starting with an easy one
There is something special about a family that works and acts as a team. Each individual is part of a unit and contributes and benefits from the whole. It warms my heart to see people that work together as a cohesive unit who were basically chosen by Allah to be family.
When I was growing up as the eldest of six children, both my mother and father were present up until I was about 12 years old. Of course the dynamic was different as I was raised as a Christian albeit my family wasn’t that religious, however they did enroll me in a Christian parochial school where I studied and really learned the Bible well, which eventually led me to Islam after studying what Jesus (‘Isa [as]) allegedly preached. However that’s not the reason for today’s post, I want to talk about building culture within your family.
Cultures aren’t only specific to places like countries, cities, states, religions or universities. Cultures and subcultures and sometimes smaller versions, may be called exist all over the place from big places like countries and religions to smaller things like sports teams, and yes, even families.
As I want to have a nurturing and encouraging atmosphere that is cognizant of Islam and the Muslim identity, I wanted to do things differently than most people and create a culture for my family that would resonate for my children and possibly for their spouses and children as well in sha Allah.
So, one thing we do is we celebrate each member of our family and it usually falls on the anniversary of our births or the closest weekend when schedules permit. Now we know that in Islam we only have two ‘eids, Eid ul Adha and Eid ul Fitr. We don’t celebrate Milad ul Nabee or any other “holiday” nor do we make our own special events (such as birthdays) holidays either. I wanted to be clear because there are a plethora of ideas that discuss taking one’s birthday as a holiday and many fatawaa regarding it. Though it’s an area of ikhtilaf (differences of opinions) I want to make it clear that what I’m going to share with you doesn’t matter if it’s on the day of someone’s birth or any random day of any month. If you choose to do it on the first of the month and choose a random month for a family member, feel free.
So my birthday falls on April 22nd on the Gregorian calendar, that is the twenty second day of the fourth month. What is surprising is that my Hijri birthday is also the twenty second day of the fourth month which is Rabbi'ul Thani. The 22nd of Rabbi'ul Thani on the Hijri calendar fell on January 20th this year. So what we’ve decided to do is to count how old we are by the Gregorian and Hijri calendar. On the hijri calendar I’m one year older than on the Gregorian calender since the hijri calendar is about two weeks shorter.
Now I’m sure the question is how does this relate to creating a culture? Well, here’s how. As I have now been around over 40 years, my family and I get together and we reminisce on things that have happened over the years and how times have changed, who has been born, who returned to Allah, and how we are grateful. By far, the most heartfelt moment for me is when my children read out the things they love about me to me. Each of them puts together a short list and they read it to me as someone records it for later viewing purposes and then they get the opportunity to share with me how they feel and what they love. Many times the things are simple or something you didn’t know they noticed and of course much of it is funny too. It’s about expressing love, gratefulness to Allah, joy and happiness.
My son Sulayman's birthday is exactly one week after mine and he gets excited, shy, and even emotional as he hears his family share what they love about him. All of his siblings get together and they read off what they love about him (except those too young to read) which is topped off by his mother and father sharing what we love about him and express how we are thankful to Allah for the favor He has shared with us so far in this life.
This helps accomplish part of what we set out for as parents and that’s to offer our love, guidance, and to create a nurturing atmosphere where our children can be raised in a Islamic environment they call home while loving the fact that they receive love and acknowledgement from home as practicing Muslims.
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