Who Should We Follow?

There are so many people in this world right now, billions and billions of people. If we look throughout history, there are billions and billions more.

How do we choose the people that we should consider to be our role models? Who should we strive to be like?

To illustrate this dilemma, we used stickers. Lots and lots of star stickers.

We used stars that are colorful or shiny, and we used stars that glow in the dark, even though they aren’t as pretty on the surface. We scattered the stars all over a sheet of paper.

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We then took a moment’s break from the stars and discussed the qualities that we would like for our leaders to have. Keeping in mind the “Follow the Leader” activity from yesterday, we discussed that we would like to follow someone who is kind and generous. We want to follow someone who would help us make good decisions.

We then came back to the stars and discussed which ones are the brightest and prettiest, which ones are our favorite. Then we turned the lights off and saw that all of the stars disappeared, especially all of the brightest colors. The only stars we could see now were the glow-in-the-dark ones.

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How do we know who to follow? We should follow the people who will shine the brightest in times of darkness, in times of difficulty. We can decide who to follow by focusing on their substance. Will they be kind and generous and make good decisions in times of hardship? Or are they simply beautiful on the surface, and in difficulties, they disappear?

Afterwards, we also tied in a science lesson, by discussing how back in the time of the Prophet (SAW), they did not have cars or airplanes; instead, they rode camels and horses. They didn’t have electricity, which meant that they did not have lights. They didn’t have GPS on their phones – they didn’t even have phones. That meant that if they went somewhere at night, perhaps on a camel in the desert or on a boat in the ocean, they had to navigate using stars. The stars that shone the brightest are the ones that lit the way to guide them to wherever they wanted to go.

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Leaders of the Young People of Paradise

For the shahadat of Imam Hassan (AS), we focused on the quote of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) where he calls Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussain (AS) the Leaders of the Young People of Paradise.

We began our discussion by talking about Heaven. Here’s the gist of our conversation.

“Do you remember what Heaven is?”

“It’s a place for people to go when they make good decisions!”

“Yeah! Do you want to make good decisions and go to Heaven?”

“Yes!!!”

“Let’s pray to Allah (SWT)! Oh Allah, please let us enter Heaven.”

 

After that, we continued by mentioning our Imams (AS), and discussing the role of a leader

“Prophet Mohammed (SAW) has told us that there are two people who are the leaders of all the young people of Heaven. They are our second and third Imam! Do you know who they are?”

“Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussain (AS)!”

“Yeah!! Now… do you know what a leader is?”

“No.”

“Let’s play a game! It’s called Follow the Leader. I’m going to go first and you have to walk behind me and copy everything that I do.”

“Okay!”

We played Follow the Leader for a few minutes, with crazy jumps and turns and gestures, making sure that everyone in line follows each movement exactly. The goofier, the better! Then, the next person in line gets a chance to lead, and everyone else follows him/her exactly. With more people, repeat until everyone has an opportunity to lead.

After the game, we discussed what the leader did and what everyone else standing in line did. We talked about how everyone in line had to follow whatever the leader did.

In the same way, if we want to go to Heaven, we have to follow the Leaders of the Young People of Heaven. Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussain (AS) are our leaders, and we have to follow them.

They are kind, so we need to be kind too. They are generous, so we need to be generous too. They are brave, so we need to be brave too.

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Making of Masjid-e-Nabawi

When Prophet Mohammed (SAW) arrived in Madinah after his migration from Makkah, all the residents of Madina wanted him to stay at their house. To make the decision, the Prophet (SAW) used his camel. The camel walked, and where the camel stopped is where Masjid-e-Nabawi was built. This Masjid became the center for all the Muslims of the city.

Prophet Mohammed (SAW) and his family lived in small homes connected to the Masjid. When Prophet Mohammed (SAW) passed away, he was buried in his room, which is connected to the Masjid, and which is now considered to be part of Masjid-e-Nabawi.

For our activity, we first talked about where Prophet Mohammed (SAW) lived, and where he is buried. We discussed that his home was in Madinah, and that he moved there from Makkah with many Muslims.

Then, we acted out the scene of Prophet Mohammed (SAW)’s camel choosing the location where Masjid-e-Nabawi was built after he moved there from Makkah. My daughter walked around with her stuffed camel and chose the location for the camel to stop, and that’s where we sat down for our activity.

Sitting there, we looked at a picture of Masid-e-Nabawi. We noticed its shape and the large green dome.

We talked about how all the Muslims, those that lived in Madinah as well as those that had moved from Makkah with the Prophet (SAW), worked together to build the mosque.

We decided to work together to build our version of the Prophet’s Mosque. I let her guide the process, giving her a choice of all the materials we had. She chose watercolors, and looking at the images that Google gave us after a search of “masjid nabawi,” we drew a rough outline for the Mosque. She decided on a night sky, and I insisted on the Green Dome. After a few colorfully creative initiatives, this is our finished painting.

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After we finished painting, we decided to make one more version of Masjid-e-Nabawi – with Legos, complete with a green “dome.” Also, featuring our stuffed camel.

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Can’t Block the Light of Guidance

No matter how hard the enemies of Islam tried, they could not block the light of guidance from spreading and reaching us, even hundreds of years later.

After Karbala, Yazid tried to prevent the spread of the message of Islam by imprisoning the Ahlul Bayt. However, even from inside the prison, their guidance still spread, and their message has still sturvived to this day.

To illustrate this, we used a group of candles and flashlights to represent Imam Ali Zainul Abideen (AS), Bibi Zainab (SA), and the rest of their family that were imprisoned with him. We put a basket on top of this to represent the prison where the family members of Imam Hussain (AS).

Obviously, the basket had holes, so the light of guidance could still escape the “prison.”

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We then covered the basket further with a black cloth to block the holes, explaining that Yazid tried everything he possibly could to prevent the family from spreading the Truth and guiding everyone.

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We even doubled the cloth, covering the lights with two layers of darkness.

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However, the light still is visible from outside. Allah (SWT) gave Imam Hussain (AS) victory by protecting the Message of Islam – no matter what Yazid tried to do.

 

Another activity similar to this is when we discussed the Ghaibat of our 12th Imam (AS). You can find that activity here.

 

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The Generosity of Bibi Sakina (SA)

Today, we discussed the generosity of Bibi Sakina. Here’s the gist of the discussion I had with my four year old.

“Who is Bibi Sakina?”

“[incorrect answer]”

“Hmm… no… do you know all the nohas that you listen to that talk about Bibi Sakina? What happened to Bibi Sakina?”

“Yeah the bad people pulled her earrings.”

“Yeah so who was Bibi Sakina?”

“She’s the daughter of Imam Hussain (AS)”

“Yeah! And do you know how old she was?”

“Ummm no”

“She was four years old.”

“JUST LIKE ME!!!!”

“Yeah, she was four, just like you! And what happened to her?”

“The bad people pulled her earrings!”

“Yeah, and what else happened?”

“Her ears had bleeding.”

“Yeah. And you know? The bad people hit her.”

“Oh.”

“Would you like it if someone hit you?”

“No! And not pull my earrings too.”

“Yeah, the bad people were mean to Bibi Sakina.”

“Ohh.”

“But you know what… Bibi Sakina was very GENEROUS! Do you know what generous means?”

“Yeah, it means to share!”

“Yeah! Does being generous mean that you’re kind?”

“Yeah!!”

“Okay, so do you remember what we talked about, about the water in Karbala and Imam Hussain (AS)?”

“No…”

“Remember, the bad people, what did they do with the water?”

“They didn’t give Imam Hussain (AS) and his friends and his family water for three days!”

“Right, so in Muharram, on the 7th of Muharram, they didn’t give Imam Hussain (AS) and his family and his friends any more water. So on the 8th, and the 9th, then on Ashura, that’s three days without water! How would you feel if you didn’t get any water for THREE days?”

“I would be so so so thirsty!”

“And then, if you found some water, what would you do? What do you think?”

“I would drink some and wash my hands and do everything that I have to do with the water!”

“You would?”

“Yeah!”

“Ok. Do you know what happened on Ashura?”

“What?”

“Bibi Sakina was so so so thirsty, so she went to her chachu, she asked Hazrat Abbas (AS) … do you know who Hazrat Abbas (AS) is?”

“Hmm… no.”

“Do you hear his name in nohas?”

“Yeah! In the video it said he was her uncle!”

“Yeah, you’re right! Remember, he was the brother of Imam Hussain (AS). He was the uncle of Bibi Sakina, he was the chachu of Bibi Sakina. And Hazrat Abbas (AS) was so BRAVE and so STRONG. So on Ashura, Bibi Sakina asked Hazrat Abbas (AS), her uncle, her chachu, to get some water for her. There was a river called the River Furat, and the bad people were blocking the river. So Bibi Sakina (AS) went to Hazrat Abbas (AS) and said, oh my chachu, I’m so thirsty, we’re all so thirsty, I want some water. Can you please get some water. Imam Hussain (AS) said that he could go try, so he went to try and get some water. But you know what Bibi Sakina did?”

“What?”

“She didn’t say, oooh, water is coming, I want to drink it, I’m gonna drink it! She didn’t say that. You know what she did?”

“What”

“She told all the other children that water is coming, my chachu is trying to get water. Come, I will share it with you!”

“Ooohhhh.”

“And it wasn’t a BIG water bottle. It was a small water bag, it’s called a Mashk. Can you say that?

“Mashk”

“Yeah, that’s a water bag, and he just had one mashk that he was trying to fill with water, not a big water bottle, but even then, Bibi Sakina said, if my uncle brings back water, I will share with all the other kids too. She was so generous!”

“Wow.”

“Yeah, but they didn’t get water. The bad people didn’t let Hazrat Abbas (AS) bring the water back.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. And you know what else happened?”

“What?”

“After Ashura, when they finally did get some water, you know what happened?”

“What?”

“When Bibi Zainab (AS), you know who Bibi Zainab is? She’s the sister of Imam Hussain (AS). So when Bibi Zainab came to Bibi Sakina and said here you go, drink this water, she didn’t drink the water! She said why should I drink the water first? You should drink some water! You’re thirsty too!”

“Ohh”

“Yeah. When Bibi Zainab (AS) told her that she was little, that’s why they wanted to give her the water first, she said that no, if you’re giving it to me because I’m little, then I’m not the only little one! My baby brother, Hazrat Ali Asghar (AS), he’s only six months old, he’s even smaller than me! I don’t want to drink the water first.”

“Ohhh”

“Yeah! Remember, Bibi Sakina was hurt and she had been crying and she was so so so thirsty. But she still didn’t want to drink the water first. She wanted to be generous and give water to other people first.”

“Ohhh”

“Bibi Sakina was always very very very generous and so kind and so brave!”

“Oh!”

“Do you think Bibi Sakina is a good person to think about?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you want to be like Bibi Sakina?”

“Yeah!!”

“How can you be generous like Bibi Sakina?”

“Do stuff that is good!”

“Like what?”

“[answers that don’t exactly work]”

“Well, not quite. What is generous?”

“Sharing”

“Yeah, generous is when whether or not you have enough, you still share with others. Like Bibi Sakina didn’t have water for herself, but still she wanted to share.”

“Ohhh”

“You can be generous with you things, like with food or water or toys. You can be generous with your words, by saying kind things. You can be generous with your time, by spending time with people!”

“We can share our money!”

“Yeah, exactly.”

“We can’t share play doh with babies”

“Well, yeah, cuz it’s not safe for them to put in their mouth. But what CAN you share?”

“I can’t take other people’s things and ruin them.”

“Right. That wouldn’t be generous, that would be selfish. We don’t want to be selfish. How can you be generous?”

“I can share my clothes, and my toys.”

After our discussion, we did this activity.

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Friendship Spring

Today, I have another activity that we did last month, during the first ten days of Muharram, discussing another companion of Imam Hussain (AS).

Hazrat Habib ibn Mazahir was one of Imam Hussain (AS)’s close friends. They had been friends since their childhood, and though they lived far away from each other and could not see or talk to each other regularly, they were still friends. They knew that they could count on and trust one another.

We can illustrate this distance in their friendship using a spring. I used the springy wire that comes with a desktop computer, often to connect a keyboard. You could also use an actual metal spring, or even a slinky

In the beginning, they were close friends, so you can hold the spring close together to represent that.

Later on in their life, they were far apart from each other – we illustrated that by stretching out the spring.

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However, when Imam Hussain (AS) was in a difficult situation and he needed the help of his friend, he sent him a letter. He knew that as soon as his friend received his letter, he would come to his aid. And indeed he did. When Hazrat Habib ibn Mazahir received the letter from Imam Hussain (AS), he left Kufa and came to Karbala. He sprung back to his original friendship, as if the distance had never even been there.

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The Decision of Hazrat Hur (AS)

Last month, during the first ten days of Muharram, we did a couple of activities to discuss some of the companions of Imam Hussain (AS). Today, I’m going to post one of those activities.

In Karbala, Hazrat Hur (AS) had a big decision to make. A decision with huge consequences.

On the one hand, Hazrat Hur (AS) could stay where he was, and continue to hurt Imam Hussain (AS) and his family and friends. However, he knew that this decision was sure to lead to Jahannum, or hell-fire.

On the other hand, Hazrat Hur (AS) could go to Imam Hussain (AS) and ask for his forgiveness. He knew that if he did this, he would go to Jannah, or heaven.

Hazrat Hur (AS) could see the two choices he had, and what would happen if he made each choice.

To illustrate this, we made binoculars. Just like we can use binoculars to see far away, we can use THESE binoculars to see the far-reaching consequences of our decisions.

On one side of the binoculars, we drew a picture of fire to represent Jahannum, and on the other side, we drew a picture of trees and flowers to represent Jannah. Please excuse the messy artwork – but it gets the point across!

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Whenever you need to make a decision, you can see the consequences on each side. This can help us make better decisions.

For our binoculars, we made a simple version of what we made in Ramadhan. We used a paper towel roll, cut in half. We taped both halves together in a binocular shape. Then we traced the end of the paper towel roll on a piece of paper and cut the circles. We drew an image on each circle and taped it to one end of the binoculars.

We realized that if we block off the end of the binoculars, then the light is blocked off and we can’t see. It’s obvious in hindsight, but I didn’t realize it until that moment. So to compensate, I taped the images very loosely, only on one side, so we could move and manipulate the flap to allow more light in.

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If I were making these binoculars again, I would use a clear plastic, and draw on it with a permanent marker, without coloring in the illustration completely. That way, light could enter through the clear plastic, to make the binoculars more useful.

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Hazrat Hur (AS) and Forgiveness

One of the lessons we can learn from Hazrat Hur (AS) is that it’s not too late to ask Allah (SWT) for forgiveness. Even if you’ve done something that seems unerasable, asking Allah (SWT) for forgiveness can still erase our sins.

To demonstrate this, we used a dry erase board. One the board, we thought of various sins, things that Allah (SWT) does not like for us to do. Every time we thought of one, we colored a little bit of the dry erase board.

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When the board was covered, we asked Allah (SWT) for forgiveness and promised Him that we would never do that thing again. We asked Allah (SWT) for forgiveness for each sin that we had colored for, and as we did, we erased a little bit of the board. Soon, the board was clean again.

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Alternatively, we also did this activity by writing down each hypothetical sin that we came up with, rather than coloring – basically, we made a list of sins. Then, we asked Allah (SWT) for forgiveness in the same way, and promised that we would never do each sin again.

We discussed how Hazrat Hur (AS) had committed some sins and was hurting Imam Hussain (AS) and his family and friends. However, he realized that he had done something wrong and asked for forgiveness. When he was forgiven, his sins were “erased,” and he became a helper of Imam Hussain (AS).

 

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Find Your Way to the Holy Kabah

Today’s activity is a MAZE. My daughter is obsessed with mazes, and she’s going to be very excited about this one!

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In this maze, you have to find a way to reach the Holy Kabah. Everyone is performing Tawaf around the Kabah, but that’s not why you’re here today. In this maze, you have to pass through all the obstacles in order to arrive at the Holy Kabah.

Bonus points to you if you can make your way to specifically Hajr-e-Aswad, The Black Stone.

Click here to download the maze.

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Imagine Yourself at Hajj – A Diary

During these days, many of our fellow Muslims are blessed to experience the journey of their lifetime, the Hajj. The rest of us are at home, wishing and praying that we get a chance to go as well, inshaAllah.

We can’t be there ourselves this year. We can, however, follow the journey of the pilgrims and imagine how we would feel every step of the way.

Today’s activity is a book, aimed for older kids, to challenge their imagination.

In each page of this book, there is a prompt that places us at each step of the journey of Hajj.  We can imagine that we are experiencing each part, and we can imagine what might be going through our heads every day that we are there.

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The book starts with the plane ride, and first goes to Madinah. After that, we perform Hajj, and end with the plane ride back home. Of course, everyone has a different trip schedule, and you can fill the book out in any order that you wish. There are certain pages that have to be filled out on certain days, like Arafah for example, and Eid. Other pages can be filled out on any day, and multiple pages can be filled out on the same day.

This activity is intended to inspire us to imagine ourselves at Hajj. May Allah (SWT) grant us all the opportunity to experience all of this ourselves soon.

Click here to download this activity. Make sure to choose the option to print it out as a booklet.

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