“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
Ramadan is to Muslims what New Years is to non-Muslims; we create resolutions to improve ourselves. However, unlike New Years, Ramadan is an entire month to turn those resolutions into habits. Many Muslims, myself included, make honorable and lofty goals that subhanallah sound great. Unfortunately, the majority of us fail to adopt these resolutions.
Let's not make that mistake this year. This Ramadan, we should develop habits that last.
Research indicates that we should: (a) develop macro goals and (b) micro quotas to achieve those goals. Macro goals, essentially, are our priorities. Micro quotas are the activities we must do on a daily basis to achieve those goals. So, for example, this year, if our priority is to develop lasting Islamic traditions with children, then we should develop specific activities to complete on a daily basis to achieve this goal. Having extremely low quotas are actually great. The key is about building consistency.
Below are the three most important daily habits we recommend for your family to begin forming this Ramadan:
(1) Read a line or two of Qu'ran after fajr
While school is in session it is understandable that we do not make our kids take advantage of this time. However, given that school is out of session, make use of this time. Recite Qu'ran, even if it is just a line or two, after fajr prayers with your children. In doing so, it not only introduces the daily recitation of Qu'ran to children, but you role model exceptional behavior for your children, cultivating an Islamic culture within your home.
Habit to Make: After fajr read Qu'ran with children. Let your children each read a couple of lines. If your children do not know how to recite the Qu'ran, then allow them to listen to you. Quantity doesn’t matter; rather, it is just about consistency.
Key Benefit: (a) Begin each day with the Qu'ran, and (b) role model good behavior for your children.
(2) Perform congregational prayers at home once per day
What a wholesome picture: Prophet Mohamed (SAW) praying salaat with Lady Khadijah and their adopted son Ali ibn Abu Taleb behind the Holy Kaa'ba. Subhanllah. You and your spouse will both be performing salaat, why not perform together and create a positive role model for your children in the home? Not only will your salaat be more rewarding, but it will be cultivating a positive culture in your home.
Habit to Make: Perform salaat in congregation as a family once per day. Many of us may have decided that attending the masjid every night will be challenging due to the timing of iftar. If that is the case, then at a minimum, perform salaatul Magrhib or Ish'a together as a family. Be sure to include the children.
Key Benefits: (a) Inculcate a love for salaat within your children, and (b) role model good behavior.
(3) Share a family story with your children at iftar
Who was the first in your family's history to convert into Islam? Which prophetic stories made an impact on you as a child? Why is your son or daughter named after the individual whom you've named him/her after? Research indicates that family stories play a critical role in the long-term development of children. If we decide to include Islam into these family stories, children will grow up with a stronger Islamic identity.
Habit to Make: During iftar every night, share one personal story about Islam in your life to your children. If you are unable to remember any of these stories, then share any Islamic story with your child (i.e Stories of the prophets, etc).
Key Benefit: (a) Establish a strong Islamic identity among your children, (b) create a culture of dhikr, or remembrance, of Allah (SWT) at the dinner table.
Your turn: Share some of your resolutions this Ramadan below, such that we can all benefit.
Chaplain Zain Syed is a Research Associate for Noor Kids. Prior to joining Noor Kids, he studied chaplaincy at the Hartford Seminary. He was born in Pakistan but grew up in New York City. After receiving a degree in Political Science, Zain became a certified teacher, living in Indonesia to teach English. He lives with his wife, Sara, in Raleigh, NC. He aspires to improve the quality of parenting in the American-Muslim community to ultimately improve the welfare of Muslim youth.
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