Crafty Fun While Fasting!
Husna T. Ghani
It’s that time again! The time for focusing on faith, festivities, fasting, and FOOD! We have been blessed with witnessing another Ramadan. The Holy Month is upon us and what better way to get children and adults excited than by nurturing the holiday spirit? From preparing special Ramadan foods and treats to decorating your home with festive crafts, your children are sure to be engaged in the joys of the month. Aside from brightening up our homes and families with these goodies, they also provide an excellent way to share our holiday month and to participate in dawah (inviting to Islam) with our non-Muslim neighbors, friends, classmates, teachers, and coworkers.
Ramadan and Eid cookies are always a big favorite. Whether they are in the shape of a crescent moon, star, or masjid (mosque), children of all ages enjoy making and decorating them. This year, try something new with holiday stencils and sprinkles. You can find a set of eight stencils featuring designs of the Kaba, a sheep, and the word “Eid” at Eidway (www.eidway.com). Keep your cookie shape simple, bake, and top with icing. Once the icing is dry, lay your desired stencil on top and fill with a complementary icing color. Get to sprinkling for the finishing touch.
Masooda Rahman from Once Upon A Tier bakery in Lombard, Illinois, is busy during Ramadan making iftar gift bags with her children. She addressed that making these gift bags is a great way to keep the children occupied while fasting and it also teaches them the lessons of sharing and being a good Muslim neighbor. She bakes her delicious cookies and wraps them in colorful paper. She then includes a bag of freshly made samosas to complete the sweet and savory iftar gift bag. Rahman then distributes these to her neighbors and friends…both Muslims and non-Muslims. What a yummy way to do dawah and have fun with the children!
Kiran Ansari from Up A Notch (www.upanotchgifts.com) is getting ready for her busiest season. Ramadan is a great time to get custom-printed gifts made for everyone. This adds both a personalized touch as well as a message of faith. One of her most popular treats are her custom designed candy wrappers. An idea Kiran shared was to set out a bowl of chocolates on your desk at work wrapped in the message “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Eid Mubarak.” What a sweet way to introduce the topic of Ramadan to your coworkers? Trust me, it will work better than you having your head on your desk from hunger pangs and your coworkers staring at your plight. Your children can also introduce Ramadan and Islam to their teachers and classmates by bringing these personalized goodies to share.
Aside from running a personalized gift business, Ansari is also a mom who knows how to get children excited about Ramadan. A countdown calendar to Eid with an envelope attached to each day is an easy and fun way to keep track of your ibadah (worship) activities as well as generate excitement as we head into the last ten days. For each of the thirty days, you can have children check off their daily Ramadan ibadah activities (prayer, reading Quran, cleaning, helping with chores, etc.). Then after iftar, they open the coinciding day’s envelope to find something special, such as a small treat or a gift voucher for “homework help.” During the last ten days of Ramadan, you can have the treats get more exciting. What child (or me) wouldn’t love to get a gift voucher for “pizza night?”
One of the main excitements of Ramadan is iftar. Ahh yes, fasting from food is always about the food! What better way to break our fasts than with indulging in some family iftar traditions? One of the best things about being an American Muslim is that we truly represent various traditions and cultural heritages from around the world. Along with these traditions, we create new ones as well. Atyia Muzammil, a mother of three, makes fried shrimp dumplings (shrimp pakoras) and beef-filled puff pastries with her children. Huma Ghani and her four children get ready for iftar season by making crab rangoon and almond kheer. Growing up, my family savored iftar that included pierogis, potato and cheese filling wrapped inside a pasta shell. You can picture it as the Polish version of a samosa. Ghada Fahmy does not have to worry about leftovers when she makes macaroni béchamel for her family and friends during Ramadan. Why? Because how can you go wrong with pasta layered with meat and baked in a creamy white sauce?
And don’t forget to set the table with decorative paper plates designed especially for Ramadan. Dalia Matariyeh, owner of Once Upon A Eid (www.onceuponaeid.com), shares, “I feel that using Ramadan/Eid themed tableware and decorations will add a great joy to the little ones and will always remind them of the beauty of our roots and holidays!” Added bonus: no dishes to wash!
With all these festive sweets, gifts, and iftars, we need to make sure our homes are festive as well. For engaging older children, Maysem Hammad, the crafty blogger behind Ode To Inspiration (www.odetoinspiration.com), has a fun way of lighting up her home. She uses baby food jars and paints the inside with translucent glass paint. Using dimensional paint, she then adds designs on the outside of the jars. Once they are dry, Hammad places tea lights inside to create her version of homemade “Moroccan lanterns.”
For younger children, I suggest making several cardboard cutouts of star and moon shapes and decorating them with paint and glitter (after all, who doesn’t love glitter, especially when it gets stuck to your hands, face, clothes, and all over the kitchen floor). Punch a hole at the top and hang them from the ceiling, banister, or wherever you want to spread a little Ramadan bling.
With Ramadan and Eid approaching, it’s important to show our children and family how much we love and cherish this special time of year. Take the time to make it a brilliant month of reflection, faith, sharing, and dawah in creative ways that children will enjoy, think back fondly of as they grow, and pass down to their own children down the line, God willing. May God bless everyone and their families and accept all our efforts this Ramadan and always!
Husna T. Ghani holds an MSEd and an MBA. She has taught science and health and is now a strategy consultant. When Husna is not glued to her computer, she’s glued to a newspaper (real wood pulp paper) or a book (with actual pages).