I want to go to the masjid for the nights of Laylatul Qadr and be able to do my aʿmāl in the congregation but my child, especially late at night, can be very disruptive and possibly a bother to the others who are trying to also complete their aʿmāl, should I bring my child to the masjid with me or leave them at home (and possibly end up being at home with them)?
A parent who misses the masjid
Dear parent who misses the masjid,
One of the greatest highlights and blessings of the month of Ramaḍān are the aʿmāl nights. We look forward to these nights and usually spend them with other community members at the mosque or Islamic center. To benefit from these nights and make the most of them, we must plan ahead. For example, if you know that your child will have a hard time staying awake on the night of aʿmāl, consider helping them get a full night’s sleep the night before and/or resting during the day before the upcoming night.
Having children take part in religious gatherings and aʿmāls during the month of Ramaḍān is essential to their tarbiyyah and Islamic training; however, mothers with small children will need to take several things into consideration when planning how to navigate these nights with children of different ages.
Young children will need adequate rest if they are to stay up and take part in aʿmāls. This is especially true for children who are sensitive to lack of sleep and rest. A mother will know her child best. If you know that your child will have a difficult time remaining quiet or may become agitated while at the mosque of Islamic center, because they are up past their bedtime, then consider some of the following depending on the circumstances:
- Make sure your child is fed and well rested before the night of aʿmāl
- Some children will not be able to stay awake or may have a difficult time past their sleep schedules. In this case, bring a small pillow and some bedding so your child can sleep beside the parents while they are engaged in aʿmāls.
- Bring along engaging activities for your child. Consider something new or something that they have not used for a while
- Coordinate with other parents who have similar aged children. Parents can take turns monitoring children or the children can take part in a monitored group activity.
- Consider hiring one or more youths to babysit children at the mosque or center.
- Avoid giving children sugary, preservative laden foods and foods with artificial ingredients, as they can cause agitation and mood disruptions. Some of these foods have immediate effects on children.
It is important to keep in mind that we should strive to raise our children in such a way that they equate worship with gentleness and peace. The decisions we make about how to navigate aʿmāl should focus on this realization. I need to be gentle and understanding with my child and I also need to monitor the environment that they are in. Imām ʿAlī (ʿa) has said, “Verily part of worship is to talk to people in a gentle manner and to spread the greeting of peace among them.” [Mizān al-Ḥikmah, Ḥadīth #4590] If one feels or acknowledges that their child is being disruptive to other worshippers, then in observing the rights of others as well as the rights of that child, you need to assess the situation and consider taking the child to another area of the mosque or Islamic center to meet their needs. Sometimes being in a less crowded area makes all the difference. Many Centers have rooms for mothers/parents or because supplications and aʿmāls are being broadcasted throughout the building, it may be possible to find a less crowded area to perform one’s worship.
Lastly, if given all these considerations, if you feel that your child will not do well at the mosque or center during one or more nights of aʿmāls, especially due to late night hours and a crowded environment, then you may need to consider doing aʿmals at home. Some families may also consider gathering at one another’s homes for that purpose or streaming aʿmal from home. Younger children can play together in smaller groups, sleep if they need to, and older children can join parents in performing aʿmāls.
I pray you have a blessed and fruitful night of aʿmāls and may your children also benefit greatly in these nights!
With many du’as,