January 15, 2012

Sunnah of Childcare: Welcoming the Newborn Part 2

When a Muslim child is born, welcoming him or her into the world includes certain religious rituals. Some of these rituals are considered obligatory to perform while others are not. And for some others differences of opinion exist. Below is a list of these rituals compiled from various sources and continued from our previous post, Sunnah of Childcare: Welcoming the Newborn Part 1

5. Performing the ‘Aqeeqah
‘Aqeeqah refers to the religious animal sacrifice made on behalf of a child when he or she is born as a way of thanking Allah, subhana wa ta ala, for the blessing he has bestowed.

In a hadith reported by Abu Dawood, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Every child is held at ransom by his ‘aqeeah. A sacrifice should be offered on his behalf on the seventh day. (On this day), his hair should be cut and he should be given a name.”

The aqeeqah is performed for both male and female children and may be offered on the seventh day after the child is born, the 14th day, the 21st or any day after that. Animals to be sacrificed must be healthy sheep. They cannot have a limp, broken bones, sickness, or be only one-eyed.

When one performs aqeeqah, two sheep should be sacrificed for a boy, while only one need be sacrificed for a girl. In addition, the meat should be distributed evenly; some is kept to eat by the family, some is given in charity, and some is used to feed the people who attend.

Umm Kurz once asked the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, about the aqeeqah and he replied, “two sheep for a boy nad one for a girl. And it does no harm to you whether they are males or females (the sheep).” –reported by abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and AnNasaa’ee

--Taken from Raising Children in Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah

6. Shaving the Child’s Head
In relation to the aqeeqah, the child’s head should be shaved on the seventh day after its birth.

When the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, performed aqeeqah for his grandson Hasan he said, “O Faatimah! Shave his head and give charity the weight of his hair in silver.” –Reported by Tirmidhi

Shaving the head of the child, whether male or female, is a way of removing harm from them as the Prophet, sallallahi alayhi wa sallam, said,When it is the child's seventh day, then spill blood for him, remove the harm from him (i.e. shave the head) and name him.”—Recorded in at-Tabaraanee, declared hasan by Ibn Hajar

Once the child’s head is shaved, the hair is to be weighed and its amount equal in silver is to be donated as charity (see above hadith recorded in Tirmidhi)

7. Initiating Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is considered an essential right of the Muslim child and should begin as soon as possible after birth and last until the age of weaning, which is two years. 

For a detailed explanation of breastfeeding in Islam, please see our previous post A Mother’s Milk: The Command from Allah

8. Circumcising the Child
Circumcision is part of the fitrah for male children as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, said

The Fitrah (natural way) is five: circumcision, shaving the private parts, trimming the mustache, clipping the nails and plucking hair from the armpits.– Reported by Bukhari and Muslim

It is recommended to perform circumcision on the seventh day after the child is born, but can be performed before or after that as well, if needed.

The benefits of circumcision include implementing a sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and reducing the risk of infection from dirt and bacteria that can get caught underneath retained foreskin.

9. Making Dua’a for the Child
It’s recorded in both Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, would seek make dua’a for his grandsons, saying, “I seek refuge (in Allah) for the two of you through the perfect words of Allah from every devil and poisonous pest, and from every evil (envious) eye.”

For more on making dua’a for children see our previous post, Sunnah of Childcare: Seeking Protection

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