For most it is a much-awaited, exciting development; for others, an unexpected, pleasant surprise; for some, a disconcerting event that takes time to accept. Whatever the case, being in the family way is a significant turn of events. It is the onset of one of the greatest responsibilities Allah (swt) can entrust us with – that of bearing and raising a person according to His (swt) pleasure.
Most Muslim mothers are not fortunate enough to realize what a pivotal task they have on their hands. Modern research has revealed that everything a mother-to-be feels, thinks about and believes in affects her baby, who starts hearing and recognizing her voice from the fourth month of pregnancy. Pregnant women are thus advised to stay positive, calm and happy during the gestation period for the healthy development of the baby.
So what can you, as an expectant mother, do in order to bear a pious Muslim baby with a sound heart: a baby connected to Allah (swt) from pre-birth?
If your own Tajweed is commendable, recite the entire Quran aloud throughout your pregnancy (especially after the fourth month). If that’s not possible, play the recitation of a Qari on a cassette-player near your belly, listening to it attentively yourself. This will bless both you and your baby, acquainting the latter with Allah’s (swt) words as soon as it begins to hear it and tranquilizing you in your expectant state.
Satan’s ultimate aim is to make us ungrateful for Allah’s (swt) blessings. During pregnancy, a woman has many fears and apprehensions. Coupled with physical sickness, she is prone to depression and negative thinking. That’s why our Prophet (saw) said: “A woman who dies during pregnancy is a martyr.” (Abu Dawood) Count your blessings, reminding yourself that you have been blessed by Allah (swt).
Dhikr of Allah (swt)
Engage in Dhikr as much as possible. Capitalize on your nine-month state of uninterrupted purity by offering supererogatory prayers besides obligatory prayers. If Ramadan falls during pregnancy, try fasting before giving up without an effort. Fasting is worship; it can be good for both you and your baby. Furthermore, join a Quran class to be engaged in Allah’s (swt) remembrance regularly.
The best nutrition
Breastfeeding is difficult to master, but when learned it is the best Sadaqah you can give your baby. While nursing, try to be with ablution, read the Quran or a beneficial book, do Dhikr, or listen to Quranic recitation. Just relax and don’t fret about the pending household chores or the weight that you have not shed off.
Shun useless activities
Whether during pregnancy or the initial nursing months, avoid pastimes such as gossiping, frequenting markets, watching dramas and films, reading fiction or listening to music. This time, when your baby is physically bound to you, will never return. Use it to build his/her foundation of piety.
When your toddler starts to speak her first words and eat a varied diet, inculcate Sunnahs into daily actions: always feed her with the right hand and only when she’s sitting; say ‘Bismillah’, ‘Alhumdulillah’, and all Duas aloud (such as on leaving the house or using the washroom). Put her clothes or shoes on right side first.
While your infant lies playing, put up Allah’s (swt) names in the room or on a mobile overhead. Play Quranic recitation nearby; do this right up to the toddler stage. A home sans television is the ideal home for a Muslim baby; realistically speaking, however, when the television is on, keep your baby in some other room of the house, where she can play undisturbed. Avoid taking your baby to noisy gatherings.
Babies deserve better stimuli for intellectual development than cartoons and musical nursery rhymes. Talk to them about Allah (swt), visit the park or seaside and give them mind-stimulating games that use numbers, alphabets and illustrations. Provide age-appropriate building blocks, Lego, markers, crayons, paper and computers. Seek the company of righteous people, frequenting circles of religious study and intellectual discussion, taking your baby with you.
If we work hard on our babies today, we can expect our Ummah to be righteous tomorrow.