Anybody who has had the privilege of making the pilgrimage of Hajj knows that the constant underlying theme of one's time there is sacrifice for the sake of God. It is a tenant we know has been closely linked to Hajj going all the way back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), and the spirit of which continues through today. Knowing this is a journey our children likely won’t make for at least the next several years, how do we make the spirit of Hajj, namely sacrifice, relevant to them?
The opportunity to sacrifice for the sake of Allah is something that spans beyond Hajj, but it is the core of the Hajj experience. Effectively, there are numerous opportunities in everyday life for us and our children to exercise sacrifice for the cause of Allah.
Below are ways to get children in the Hajj spirit of sacrifice!
Sacrificing Their Favorite Toy
Although toys don’t mean much to adults, they have quite the opposite worth among our children. Asking children to take one of their favorite toys and sacrifice it either by donating it to a shelter where underprivileged children would be delighted, or gifting it to one of their friends or cousins, is a great way to ignite the spirit of sacrifice within them. Given the story of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) being asked to sacrifice Prophet Ismail (AS), this idea of giving up something for the sake of Allah is absolutely essential to the spirit of Hajj, however it may not resonate as much with our children initially and they may be unwilling to partake. In that case, ask them to leave their favorite toy with you until the day of Eid. This exercise would be significantly aided if prefaced by a conversation with your child about the spirit of sacrifice, and how sacrificing even a little bit of what Allah has given us is so valuable for our relationship with Him.
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Sacrificing Their Time
While on the pilgrimage, it is strongly advised that one dedicate all their free time to Allah. The actual rituals of Hajj maybe account for about 15-20% of the time spent on the trip, leaving ample time for one to spend. The best use of this time is to spend time doing dhikr, reading Quran, and making Dua for your forgiveness. Similarly, during the days of Hajj, encourage them to sit with you for an extra 10 minutes a day to partake in worship of any kind -- dua, dhikr, or reading of the Quran. While 10 minutes may not seem like a significant amount of time, it’s essential that they be able to develop and exercise the muscle of sacrificing their time for Allah at an early age, so inshAllah it will benefit them as they grow up.
Sacrificing Their Privilege
It is a humbling site for any Muslim from America when they see fellow pilgrims from third world countries all walking to the same masjids and ritual sites while on the trip. While many of us end up purchasing packages that offer us buffets and 5-star hotels, there are others from poverty-stricken parts of the world who eat very basic meals and sometimes sleep on the streets of Makkah and Madinah. Despite the stark contrast, everybody wears the same clothes, prays in the same direction, and walks to the same ritual sites. It’s a very humbling site indeed. In that spirit, if you have a mosque nearby your home, ask your child to accompany you in walking to the mosque for a congregational prayer at least once throughout the days of Hajj. In the spirit of understanding how difficult it is to walk instead of drive, encourage your child (and yourself) to empathize with how tough it is for others in different parts of the world who many have access to things like cars, but don’t let this get in the way of their relationship with their Beloved.
May Allah make this season of Hajj a blessed one for you and your family!