Desire to have a child is embedded in the human nature. Love for one’s child is stronger in a human being’s instinct than for oneself. It is therefore not surprising that the process of having a child is one of the most significant stage of one’s journey in this world.
Islam as a complete system of life has guidance regarding every aspect of life. This is also true when it comes to welcoming a newborn. Some important points of Islamic guidance regarding this topic are briefly mentioned below.
1. Expressing Joy and Happiness
In the pre-Islamic Arabia, it was a mark of one’s shame and humiliation to give birth to a girl, rather than a boy. In contrast, Islam teaches us to welcome a baby with joy and happiness, regardless of whether the baby is a boy or girl. Therefore, it is preferable to congratulate someone who just had a baby.
2. Calling Adhan and Iqamah
As soon as a baby is born, the first ritual that should be done is that Adhan and Iqamah should be called into the ears of the baby. The Adhan should be called into the right ear and the Iqamah should be called into the left ear. The Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) himself called Adhan and Iqamah when Hadhrat Hasan (Rd) was born.
3. Tahneek or Sweetening a Child’s mouth by a Pious Person’s Saliva
After a baby is born, it is also preferable to perform something known as ‘Tahneek’. It means that a pious person chews a piece of date (or something sweet) and then puts the saliva from that inside the baby’s mouth in such a way that it gets spread to the right and left of the mouth.
The purpose of Tahneek is to receive blessings from a pious person, hoping that this will result into the baby growing up as pious. The ritual is proven by the action of the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Companions used to bring their newborn babies to the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). He would then perform Tahneek and name the babies.
4. Shaving the Head
Another ritual concerning newborns is that their hair should be shaved on the seventh day of their birth. Having shaved the hair, it is also preferable to weigh it and the amount of silver (or its value) equal to the weight of the hair is given to the poor and needy.
This ritual is also proved by the actions of the companions, such as Hadhrat Fatimah, Hadhrat Zainab and Hadhrat Umm Kulthum etc.
5. Choosing a Name
A baby should be named within the seventh day of birth. However, it is preferable to name a new-born baby as soon as possible.
When naming a baby, it is important to choose a name which sounds beautiful and has a good meaning. It is also preferable to select a name which denotes servitude to Allah the Almighty, such as Abdullah (slave of Allah), Abdur-Rahman (slave of the Merciful) etc. Likewise, names of prophets and messengers etc. should be given preference.
6. Aqeeqah or Sacrificing an Animal out of Gratitude
Aqeeqah means to sacrifice an animal with the intention of expressing one’s gratitude to Allah Almighty for granting one a child. Aqeeqah is a Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Below are some points about Aqeeqah:
- It is Sunnah to sacrifice two sheeps or goats for a boy and one sheep or goat for a girl.
- Aqeeqah should be performed on the seventh day after birth. However, it is also permissible to perform it before that day.
- If Aqeeqah was not performed on the seventh, it should be performed on the fourteenth or twenty-first day.
- It is Sunnah to distribute the meat (or meal made from the meat) of Aqeeqah amongst family members, relatives and the poor and needy.
- It is also preferable that the bones of the animal (intended for Aqeeqah) should not be broken when cutting the animal; rather, they should be just separated from the joints.
Imam & Khateeb, Masjid Taqwa
Kyrwicks Lane, Birmingham
26th Sh’aban 1441 AH