The birth of a child is a special occasion for anyone around the world. Many rejoice by the prospect of welcoming new life into their families, bringing all its members joy and hope for the future. While the event of a child’s birth is universal to humanity, the joy and celebration manifests in different ways for many cultures around the world.
For most, it is a religious event as the newborn is seen as a divine gift. Such is the case for the Muslims who hold a special kind of celebration, giving praise and honor to Allah for the blessing of a child. This celebration is one of many ways that Muslims practice their faith, and doing so has never been simpler thanks to apps like Muslim Pro.
The Muslim tradition for honoring childbirth is quite unique from other cultures, and it holds a lot of meaning for the community.
Prayer at Birth
While this is not the celebration itself yet, Muslims do perform a sacred rite at the very moment of birth. The father recites the prayer of Adhan into the right ear of the baby, making sure that it is their very first experience of the world. This actually serves as the initial dedication of the child to follow a life that serves Allah.
The Tradition of Aqiqah
The proper celebration of the child’s birth in Islam is called Aqiqah which occurs much like a baby shower, except that it is done after the baby is born. This tradition is ideally held seven days after the birth, but doctrine provides reasonable leeway for the family in case there are serious circumstances that prevent them from observing the seven-day rule.
In those cases, they may celebrate on the fourteenth, twenty-first, or any succeeding days of the month that are multiples of seven. The ceremony is a symbolic offering up of the child as both a servant and a sacrifice to Allah, as well as entrusting the child to be a medium of intercession for their parents.
A Grand Banquet for the Family
The event is often hosted by the parents at their home, with the rest of the extended family and even members of their community invited at times. As per tradition, a sheep or a goat is served for a grand feast, although in some cases, the family can prepare a cow or camel instead. However, it is crucial by doctrine that the animals to be served follow strict guidelines in preparation.
The sheep or goat must be over two years old, while a cow must be over three years. If a camel is chosen, it must be over six years old. Whichever animal is prepared for the feast, it must have been in perfectly healthy condition, meaning it had no illnesses, disabilities, or injured limbs, and it must be slaughtered in a humane, acceptable way. It is important as well that a third of the meat from the banquet is offered to the poor.
Dedicating the Child
While the feast is the biggest part of the tradition, it is not yet the entirety of the celebration. Similar again to a baby shower, the name of the baby is also announced to the extended family in this event. Usually, the name is taken from one of the great Muslim prophets or from a significant figure in Islam history and culture. For boys, however, naming tends to observe a specific convention in which the given name means “servant of” combined with any of the variations of the name of Allah.
The faithful might already know as well that the term for Aqiqah originates from the Arabic word for cut. This refers to the child’s head being shaved, after which the hair is weighed. The parents then are to donate the equivalent of this measurement in gold or silver to charity as a form of sadaqah, a form of voluntary charity.
If the celebration is held on the seventh day after birth, it is also customary that the child undergo circumcision. Since the Aqiqah is considered the true beginning of a person’s faith life in Islam, they must come before Allah clean and pure, and circumcision is symbolic of this, as well as a continuation of a long-held tradition.
Overall, the Aqiqah truly is a unique, remarkable experience for Muslims. While it is a gathering of family to celebrate new life, it is important to remember that everything is done in honor of Allah. It is humbling yet gratifying for parents to recognize that their child was not born of their human power but by the blessing of Allah. They wish for their child to share this faithful commitment with them from birth.
Of course, Aqiqah is only the beginning of the Muslim faith life, and there are many more prayers, doctrines, and traditions that are practiced in Islam. The religion is rich in culture, and all of these are actually accessible through the Muslim Pro app which is designed to make Muslims faith lives easier to live out.
So beautiful the way they welcome the child into the world.