Ramadan is a time to deepen your spiritual awareness but it can also be a time to strengthen family bonds. Spending family time praying together and reading Qur’an together can have a strengthening effect.
Any time is a good time for family togetherness but, specifically, during Ramadan you have four blocks of time that you could use.
There is much blessing at this time. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Eat suhoor for in suhoor there is blessing.” [Reported in al-Bukhari and Muslim]
When I was little we always woke up for this meal. This is something that I do with my children now as well. I know some people who skip this time because they say they can’t get up or they can’t eat during this early hour. If you are one of these people then at least have a date and a sip of water.
But it’s not just about eating, it’s also about what you do during this time. If you and your family wake up about one hour before Fajr and pray the night prayers, read Qur’an, eat something and then pray Fajr at the appointed time, then this is family time well spent.
We all know that doing things together and sharing an experience creates a special bond. What’s more special and beneficial than doing acts of worship together with your loved ones? This Ramadan, make the intention for greater worship by waking up early with your family. You know what they say: a family that wakes up together, makes up together. Ok, no not really but it’s true.
Everyone enjoys iftar. It’s a time to break our fast, quench our thirst and nourish ourselves with food. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said, 'Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.' For the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk." [Reported in al- Bukhari]
But before this enjoyable moment, most mothers have the task of spending all afternoon in the kitchen to prepare and cook. Give mothers the break she needs by having the family helping out during this time.
Firstly, by keeping the meal simple, the cooking time is already shortened. All you need is an entrée, a drink and a main dish at the most. The entrees and drinks are easy so assign this to the father and the children. This leaves you with the main which is easier to do when you only have to cook one thing.
When each person contributes and spends time in the kitchen together, it makes it easier for everyone. And you know what they say: a family that cooks together, looks together. Ok, not really but it still works.
So now that you have the extra time, what do you do? If you’ve finished with the cooking an hour before iftar then gather the family and read Qur’an and wait for iftar together. This way, it is more rewarding and relaxing for everyone and you get to spend more time together.
Tarawih is the special prayer in Ramadan so make sure that you and your family are praying some of it together. A family that prays together, stays together. Ok, that’s almost the saying but it works much better than the original.
One way to pray together is if you have older teenage children then have them take turns leading one Tarawih prayer. This gives children responsibility and pleasure in being the next imam for the family.
In between the tarawih when the qutba is given, likewise, take turns having one child in charge and select their own topic for their talk. Rotate this each day during Ramadan.
You can take turns reading from the Qur’an afterwards and explaining what the ayahs mean. You could even take turns reading the story of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, to endear him to your family. In fact, read any Islamic book. Just make the time to read and learn together.
If it’s not possible for your family to spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in itikaf at the masjid then make a mini version at home.
For the last days, my family and I would gather and sleep in the lounge room. We’d spread our little camping mats on the floor to sleep on after we’d spend most of the night praying tarawih and reading Qur’an. Then before suhoor, we’d wake up for more prayers and Qur’an.
The children actually enjoy this and every Ramadan they’d ask to do it. This is great bonding time. We all benefit from worshipping more and spending time together.