Islam is a way of life, and having fun, being silly, and bringing people together can very much
be a soulful experience, one that moves the heart with gratitude towards our Creator.
My backyard was recently half-covered with a giant inflatable bounce house complete with a climbing wall, and a slide. And it got better! At the end of the slide was a small pool filled with water and we sprayed the slide too. Then we added about 12 boys between the ages of 5-10 and had all the energy needed for an amazing afternoon bouncing, climbing, and sliding down into a pool of water with a splash! There were water guns, a wilderness survival game I created, and other good ol’ summer outdoor relay race games with more water. The winners got prizes, there was a red velvet cake covered with summer decorations and the words “Have fun boys!” As everyone walked out the door each boy got to choose a smaller prize to take home. When they saw water balloons and chocolate, there was nothing but smiles, alhamdulillah.
The occasion? There was none. Every year I throw two parties, somewhere in the Spring or Summer, a boys’ party for my son and his friends, and a girls’ party for my eldest daughter and her friends. (The baby has a few years before she joins in!) The parties are not connected to birthdays or any other event. We have them for the sake of bringing kids together for fun in a happy, positive, halal environment. In between those are other smaller occasions but the goal is giving and sharing. My kids aren’t the centre of attention, they don’t get special treatment, or expect gifts from others. They are the hosts, and are excited by the planning of the party, from balloon and streamer colours to what goes in the goodie bags they will give to their friends. (I have finally convinced them that children do not need tons of sweets to be happy!)
Abundant celebration opportunities
It’s not about creating a birthday alternative, since we don’t celebrate them in our home and they aren’t missed by my kids. It’s about creating opportunities to celebrate life, friendships, warm sunny days, laughter, and giving to those around us who are special in our life. It’s also a way I give a taste of my own childhood to my children. We celebrate both ‘Eids too, and in the past we have simply celebrated ice cream by hosting an ice cream sundae party! There are so many ways to create fun that is totally halal, not ego-based for a child, and anchors your children to a more than positive Islamic upbringing. My youngest daughter’s aqeeqah was such a special celebration for us, held outside in a beautiful park, with great food, and most importantly, being able to share our happiness with our community.
One day I invited my daughter and her best friend to come over for a cupcake baking and decorating day. Forty-eight cupcakes and tons of frosting and sprinkles later, I sat back and admired not just their creations, but their smiles. I hung up a banner that said “Baking Day,” printed out special cupcake themed colouring pages, and, post-event, created a small book with photos from everything they did together with an online software that allowed me to effortlessly drop the photos into the book layout. We handed the cupcakes out to neighbours and friends (and yes, ate our fair share) but I know that something as simple as baking and making it special would be a long-lasting memory for the girls. It’s teaching them that the small things in life, while simple, are fulfilling and rich when shared with others.
I recently attended a Mother and Daughter Gala for girls ages ten and up, celebrating the special relationship between me and my eldest. This all female space, which also showcased local talent like girls doing Kung Fu performances and singing nasheeds and a fashion show, gave my daughter and I a fun opportunity to bond in a way that we’ve never been able to do before. I now wonder why no one had ever done such a lovely event before! We all need special moments to break away from the “everyday” routine, to step back, and admire and appreciate. Seeing my little girl all dressed up in her ankle length pink satin dress, carrying her own silver sequined handbag, knowing that by this time next year, this dress will no longer reach her ankles as she keeps growing, led me to sit in amazement at how big my little baby had become. Our relationship is changing, and while there are challenges with her blossoming age, I indeed felt like celebrating her maturity and our conversations together, masha Allah.
We also go out to dinner as a family to celebrate things that are special for my husband and I such as the launch of a project. Sharing such moments also models positive self-esteem to our children as we thank Allah I for an accomplishment and celebrate it.
Islam is a way of life, and having fun, being silly, and bringing people together can very much be a soulful experience, one that moves the heart with gratitude towards our Creator; simply for the gifts of life, of health, our breath, our ability to move and play. People often feel that in order for something to be ‘Islamic’ there has to be a speech of some kind, a quiz on the Qur’an or recitation competition. While such games have their place, so does simply gathering people together as your guests, making your sole intention to bring happiness to others for the sake of Allah I. For a gathering to be of greatest benefit, we should indeed remember and mention Allah (SWT). For young kids, I find that getting them all to make wudhu, and pray in jama’a is sufficient, no quizzes necessary. This is a perfect opportunity to show that having fun and being a committed Muslim are not contradictory. There is a time for both, these things can go hand in hand.
The truth is, there are thousands of reasons to celebrate in your life, and those celebrations reflect gratitude for the bounties Allah (SWT) has given us in our lives. Have fun with your children, bring joy into their lives, and celebrate the big moments, and the small ones. I hope that you will find your own excuse-free reason to throw a soulful party, whether for your children or the children at your local masjid.
Note: Help throw an ‘Eid party for kids who may otherwise not have much to celebrate within your local community. Pool some money together and, with a few volunteers, you can run the games and events for the masjid, an Islamic school, or through a relief organisation working with refugee children or families struggling on a low income.
Megan Wyatt is the founder of Wives of Jannah, a rapidly growing organization of thousands of Muslim wives who are inspired by the core goal of rekindling marriage as an act of worship. She coaches wives and couples to learn the art of her key technique Fearless Vulnerability. SISTERS magazine, an international publication now online, features Megan in their relationship column where she answers questions from wives around the globe. She is also the co-founder and key trainer for Find Your Mr. Right where she guides single Muslim women in finding, meeting, attracting, and marrying their future husband. She co-authored and published a book with her 13 year old daughter called “How to Get Hijab Ready: A Guide for Muslim Girls Ages 8-11.” A homeschooling mother of four, Megan resides in Southern California with her children and husband Zeyad Ramadan.