The birth anniversaries of our best role models are a perfect junction to stop and reflect on their example and increase our knowledge of these characters, thereby attaining greater knowledge of ourselves, our souls and the path to Allah.
As we approach the holy anniversary of the birth of our beloved Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him), I am reminded of the Hadith of Imam Hussain (AS): Oh Allah allow me to know you, for if you do not, I will not know your prophet. Oh Allah, allow me to know your prophet, for if I do not, I will not know your Hujjah (sign). Oh Allah, allow me to know your sign, for if I do not, I will stray away from my faith. (Bihar Al-Anwar p326).
Most of us yearn to strengthen our faith and our understanding of Allah (SWT) through following the example or the Ahlulbayt (AS). The birth anniversaries of our best role models are a perfect junction to stop and reflect on their example and increase our knowledge of these characters, thereby attaining greater knowledge of ourselves, our souls and the path to Allah.
The 15th Sha’ban marks the birth anniversary of our Imam Mahdi (AS) and falls in the centre of the spiritual season as we anticipate the arrival of the month of Allah, the holy month of Ramadan. So how can we seize this time to increase our children’s knowledge of our Imam and bring them closer to him? Here are 5 ways you can try depending on the age and stage of your child.
Recite Dua al-Faraj regularly
This is the supplication of the time of occultation, seeking the protection of Allah for our Imam and asking Him to hasten his reappearance. It is a short Dua full of hope and anticipation, which send Salawat to the Mahdi (AJ) and the holy household. Regular recitation will help increase your child’s curiosity about the Mahdi, prompting them to ask questions or can pose an opportunity for you to explain the context behind the Dua to your child. Younger children are drawn to superhero figures, make believe characters that can save the world and stand up for the oppressed. In Imam Mahdi, we actually have this. Regular recitation of the Dua can build an inherent connection as your child grows up praying for the safety of their Imam, and pleading for the promised justice and peace his reappearance will bring Inshalah. As our children become exposed to the oppression and pain of this world, the thought of their Imam’s reappearance will give them comfort and reassurance.
Give charity in the Imam’s name
While all charity is given in the name and for the sake of Allah (SWT) to attain His pleasure and nearness to Him, it is recommended that we remember and pray for our deceased loved ones and our Holy Prophet and his holy household as we do these noble deeds. Reminding your child to pray for the protection of Imam Mahdi (AJ) as they pay regular Sadaqa (charity) will enhance their connection with their Imam and cause them to remember him more frequently. It will also build a habit of giving and a sense of gratitude.
Use song and rhyme
Nowadays we are very lucky to have a plethora of resources aimed at bringing the Mahdi closer to our children with song and rhyme. Young children are particularly attracted to and will memorise rhymes that appeal to them and excite them. Singing these rhymes with your child, playing these in the car or on the anniversary of the members of the holy household will make our children more curious about these characters whom they will learn to love as children are inherently good and are drawn towards goodness. I particularly like the Ya Mahdi rhyme from Aunty Zahra Media which can be found on YouTube. Aunty Zahra Media provide a selection of engaging Nasheeds prepared and compiled by our recent podcast guest, speech and language therapist Azra Hassanali.
In the quiet time before a child sleeps, the potential for connection and reflection is maximised so ensure you harness this opportunity. Use this opportunity to make Dua for the safety of our Imam, but also to remind your child that our Imam is praying for us every day. As a loving father, he wants us to excel and reach our potential and asks Allah to help us do this. He becomes happy when we are true to our good selves like help the poor, tell the truth and are kind to our friends among other good deeds. He also becomes sad when we transgress against ourselves and take a step backwards as our true instinct is toward the goodness and perfection of Allah (SWT). This reflective time is also a good opportunity to think about our deeds that day, learn from them, ask Allah for forgiveness and set a new intention to do better the next day.
As Imam Al-kadhim taught us: ‘He is not from us who does not hold himself accountable for his deeds daily. If he has done good, he praises Allah and asks for His continued help, and if he has made mistakes he asks Allah for forgiveness. (Mizan Al-Hikmeh p619)
Stories about the Imam (AJ)
Stories are also a wonderful way to teach children and enhance their love and connection to the Ahlulbayt (AS). They can help children visualise how the Imams lived their everyday lives, how they interacted with others and how they glorified Allah (SWT). I love the books and games from Kisakids.org that aim to increase children’s knowledge of the holy Ahlulbayt through engaging illustrations and literature. An example is the ‘Knowing the Ma’sumin series which features an edition on Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi (AJ)