The holy month of Dhul Hijjah is nearly here, and like many parents I am struggling to get my kids excited about the holy days of the month, Eid ul Adha and the significance of Hajj. It is as though, this Eid is the “black sheep” of the two Eids – see what I did there?
But on a serious note, I have been searching for creative and simple ways to relay the story of Hajj and sacrifice to children to instill the love of this pillar of Islam. Growing up, I also felt a bit disconnected to the season of Hajj and Eid ul Adha because I never felt like I really earned it or participated in the worship. Whereas in Ramadan, we are actively worshipping and earning our celebration at the end of a long month of holy devotion, this Eid just felt less important, which isn’t how it should be. Also, it can be tricky to explain the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (as)’s sacrifice to little ones.
So, I’ve done the brainstorming and research for you to help rectify this. Here are some tips on how to talk to your kids about the concept of Hajj and sacrifice and creative ways to decorate and celebrate Eid ul Adha.
Introduce or Review the Pillars of Islam
Dhul Hijjah is a great time to go over the five pillars of Islam with your children and help them correlate the importance of Hajj within Islam. Even better though is going over the pillars of Islam throughout the year to familiarize your child with the concept of Hajj; and once the time comes around, they will anticipate it.
Depending on their age, you may need to use props and activities to help your child visualize the importance of what a pillar is. You can use blocks to make a house or building that has five pillars. My favorite way to talk about the five pillars of Islam to my four year old is to use her own hand to count and name the pillars.
If I am feeling extra crafty, I will have her use finger paint to make a handprint of her hand on a piece of construction paper. I print off simple photos that correlate to each pillar and have her cut and paste the photos on each finger of her handprint. I explain to her that her five fingers make up her hand. and that they are essential for her to use her hand properly. In the same way, the five pillars of Islam are integral parts of our lives as Muslims. I explain to her that by performing all five pillars we are pleasing Allah (S).
Five pillars of Islam, clockwise from top left: Salah, Zakat, Hajj, Ramadan, Shahada.
There are many resources out there and craft ideas to help explain the five pillars to young children. These flashcards for girls
, and boys
are some of my favorites that you can print out and laminate for constant use.
Talk About the Benefits & Sunnah of the First 10 Days of Dhul Hijjah
Here are five things you can do with your kids (determining if it's age-appropriate) or by yourself during Dhul Hijjah (also summed up nicely in this beautiful infographic
“There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than in these (ten) days.” [Al Bukhaari]
1. Increase in these three forms of tasbih and glorification of Allah (S).
- Tahleel: La Illaha Illa Allah
2. Recite the talbiyah. The talbiyah is a form of dhikr and glorification of Allah (S) that is repeatedly recited during umrah and hajj. Teach it to your children and encourage the family to recite it repeatedly throughout the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. It is a form of worship and recognition of the oneness, or tawheed, of Allah (S).
“Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik. Labbaika Laa Shareeka Laka Labbaik. Innal Hamda Wanna’mata Laka Wal Mulk. La Shareeka Lak.”
“Here I am O Allah, here I am. There is no partner for You, here I am. Verily all praise is for You, and every bounty is from You, and all dominion is Yours. You have no partner.”
Hajj pilgrims during a restricted pilgrimage in coronavirus times. Image source: Twitter
3. Increase your prayer, qiyam, charity, and fasting. It is encouraged to fast the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
4. Increase in your good deeds, such as offering kind words to others and lending a helping hand.
5. Fast on the Day of Arafah (the ninth of Dhul Hijjah and the day before Eid ul Adha). Just as The Night of Power is the most sacred night of Ramadan, the Day of Arafah is the most blessed day of the year. Those who are not hajj pilgrims are encouraged to fast on this day and spend it seeking Allah (S) infinite mercy and forgiveness.
“It, (fasting on the Day of Arafah) expiates the sins of the past year and the coming year.” [Muslim]
Tell the Story of Ibrahim, Ismail and Hajar (as)
I remember growing up to my mother telling us stories of the prophets from the Islamic books she had read and from her own personal knowledge. We had some poorly illustrated picture books in Arabic to help us visualize the series of events, but most of the time we depended on our imagination to help us paint the picture.
Now we have access to beautifully illustrated picture books, activity books and story videos to help our children connect better with the stories of the prophets. This
is a great video I found that tells the story of the Prophet Ibrahim beautifully and in a simple way that most kids can absorb. The video is quite long, so I suggest breaking it up into segments and making it a series of videos that you and your kids can watch throughout the week or over the course of the first 10 days Dhul Hijjah.
Because my daughter is four, I guide her throughout the video and explain the plot. Afterwards I ask her some questions to see what she thought of the video, what she understood and answer her questions.
When it comes to the portion of sacrifice, and the dream of Prophet Ibrahim (as), it can be quite intimidating to explain to children the test that Prophet Ibrahim (as) faced, especially for young kids. I struggled with this story last year when my daughter was three and decided to not mention it all and went straight to the gift of the sheep, relating it back to Eid.
This year I plan on introducing the story and relating it in a way that she can understand. I will explain the concept of sacrifice in terms of letting go of something in order to please someone they love and relating that back to the story.
For example, I may talk about an instance where my son and daughter are playing, and my son takes one of his sister’s toys. Instead of fighting with her younger brother, I will talk to her about how allowing him to play with her toy and sharing is a sacrifice and although it was hard, she did the right thing and made her younger brother happy.
Storybooks & Resources on Hajj and Eid ul Adha
Alhamdullilah, I am so proud and thrilled with the plethora of beautifully illustrated books for our children. With reading levels for all ages and captivating illustrations, teaching our children about hajj (and our deen as a whole) has become more fun and interactive. Below I am sharing some online Islamic book stores that sell a variety of different titles on the Hajj pilgrimage.
Printables & Resources
Hajj Simulation or Diorama
This is a great activity to do with your kids or friends after introducing the story of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and the steps of Hajj. You can set up stations in your backyard and invite your kids and their friends to “perform” Hajj while explaining the steps. Get creative and make your own Ka'baa using cardboard boxes, use your kids' playroom tent for Mina, make the pillar for throwing stones and have your children collect pebbles from your backyard.
The possibilities are endless and create room for so much creativity and learning through play! You can also use materials in your kids playroom, like Legos
and craft materials
to create a diorama of the different steps of Hajj. This
is an extra simplified version I made for my own children last year.
Arts, Crafts & Eid Decor!
is a great resource for finding just about anything; it is my go-to for craft and party ideas. Last year, my daughter and I had fun creating a popcorn-filled sheep
! This year I am loving this DIY Hajj camera reel
. You can also find many creative projects in the printables and resources links mentioned above. Some of the bookstores in the above list also sell activity boxes and packs filled with craft ideas for your little ones.
One of my favorite Muslim sites for craft inspiration is Hello Holy Days
. In terms of party decor, no one does it better than Amnah from Little Life of Mine
. I love the simplicity of her Umrah party decor that can be customized and adjusted to your liking.
I hope this post was helpful and has got your creative juices flowing! We would love to see how you incorporate these tips in the coming days, be sure to tag us @hautehijab. I ask Allah (S) to fill your days with blessings, forgive your sins and grant us all the opportunity to perform Hajj one day.