ISLAM AND THE NEW BORN BABY
Children are a source of delight and an adornment for the world granted by Allâh to their parents, they give vigour to the hearts, joy to the souls, pleasure to the eyes. They are the fruit from whom good is to be hoped for when they frequently supplicate:
“Our Lord! Bestow on them your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small”
and they are the ones in every nation upon whom hope for the future lies, and they are the youth of tomorrow upon whose shoulders the call to Islâm is carried. Indeed Islâm has indeed elevated the status of children and has laid down manners for their treatment relating to all their affairs and each stage of their and from these are the manners for welcoming their arrival in this life.
Our Prophet ﷺ was a living example, educating, cultivating the Muslims upon the practices of Islâm, teaching them how to worship their Lord in the best of ways. But a number of Muslims have strayed from his pure teachings and have substituted that which is gold for that which worthless.
So here are the manners the Prophet ﷺ taught us with regards our new-born.
Encouragement to have Children
Allâh says, “So now have sexual relations with them,, and seek that which Allâh has ordained for you.” And the Prophet ﷺ said, “Marry the loving and fertile because through you, I will compete with the nations for superiority in numbers”(Abu Dawûd)
And it is important that the Parents bring up their children upon righteousness, so that the Parents will benefit from them during their lives and after their death. Allâh ‘s Messenger ﷺ said, “A servant will have his rank raised and will say, ‘O my Lord how has this come about for me?’ He says, ‘through your sons after you seeking forgiveness for you’”(ibn Maajah)
Know that what has preceded applies equally to both boys and girls, and indeed Islâm has encouraged the bringing up of girls, and Allâh condemns those that are distressed at the birth of a girl, and the Messenger ﷺ came elevating the status of this gift from Allâh ,
“whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood – he and I will come together on the Day of Resurrection (like this) – and he interlaced his two fingers”(Muslim)
Meaning in Paradise. So can their be a greater honour given to daughters?!
Giving the good news of the Birth
The near of kin who are anxiously waiting should be informed so that they can stop worrying and congratulate the parents and supplicate for the baby. Allâh mentions this good news being conveyed to a number of His Prophets, from them Zakariyyah of his son Yahya,
|“Then the angels called him, while he was standing in prayer in a private room (saying), Allâh gives you glad tidings of Yahya’”|
Giving the Adhân in the ear of the newborn
The first practice to do is to make the adhâh in the ear of the baby, so that the first words that the baby hears is the name of Allâh , and the kalima.
It is to be given straight after the birth, or very soon afterwards as he ﷺ did with his grandson al-Husayn, as is related by Abu Raafi’ who said,
| “I saw the Prophet ﷺ give the adhâh for prayer in the ear of al-Husayn ibn Alî when his mother Fâtimah gave birth to him,” (Tirmidhî)|
It should be given with it’s usual wording in a voice which is audible to the baby, not so loudly that it risks harm to the baby or alarms it.
Only the adhân is to be given, not the iqâmah as well as there is no authentic evidence to support this. Giving the adhaan only is also the reported practice of the Khalî fah Umar bin Abdul Azîz. This is closer to the sunnah, and Allâh knows best.
The sunnah has not specified as to which ear it should be given, however the Messenger ﷺ used to love to do good actions starting from the right, so it would be more appropriate to give the adhân in the right ear.
This means to softening a date and then rubbing the palate of the new-born with it just after the birth or soon after. This is done by putting a piece of the softened date on the finger and rubbing it from left to right in the mouth of the baby.
|Ibn Hajr said, “if one is not able to find a dry date, then a fresh date should be used, and if that is not available then anything sweet.” (Fath 9/588|
It is not essential to chew the date rather it may be softened in any way. The action of chewing as reported in the sunnah was something specific to the Messenger ﷺ due to the blessings that Allâh had placed in his saliva.
It is done by the father or the mother or anyone from the People of Knowledge whose supplication is hoped would be accepted. So he should perform tahnîk and supplicate for the child as was the practice of the Companions.
Imaam Nawawî says,” scholars are agreed upon the recommendation of performing tahnîk upon the baby after it’s birth.”(Sharh Sahî h Muslim 4/122)
Aaishah (ra) reports, “ new-born children used to be brought to the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ and he would supplicate for blessings for them, and rub a chewed date upon their palate.” (Muslim)
Naming the child
The baby may be named on the day of it’s birth or later on the seventh day or past the seventh day, as this is what is clear after study of all the evidences from the sunnah.
It is the father or the mother who chose the name for the baby. If they differ amongst themselves then it is the father who has the choice, he may name it himself or give his wife the right to choose. The fact that this is the right of the father is shown by the principle that the child is ascribed and attributed to the father, as Allâh says,
|“Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just in the Sight of Allâh ”|
It is also allowed for the parents to allow others to name the child, since our Prophet ﷺ used to name some of the children of his Companions.
The name should carry a good and praiseworthy meaning as the Messenger ﷺ said,
| “On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and your fathers names, so make your names good.” (Abu Dawûd)|
It is recommended to call oneself a servant of Allâh (Abdullâh) or the servant of any of the names of Allâh . Then it is recommended to name a child after a prophet, due to the hadîth,
| “call yourselves by the names of the Prophets” (Abu Dawûd)|
and the hadîth,
| “a son was born to me this night and I called him after my forefather Ibraahîm” (Muslim)|
Then it is recommended to name the child after any pious person in the hope that it will become like him/her. Then it is recommended to name by any name which has good meaning.
It is forbidden to name a child with a name that denote servitude to other than Allâh , for example Abd an-Nabi, Abd ar-Rasûl etc.
The names of tyrants and evil personalities should be avoided such as Fir’awn, Qarûn, Abu Lahab etc.. Likewise it is disliked to name with the names of the Surahs of the Qur’aan like ‘Taa Haa’ or ‘Yaa Sîn’ as is reported from Imaam Maalik and others. There is no authentic hadîth which ascribes the above two as being names of the Prophet ﷺ.
After the seventh day of the arrival of the new-born, as a form of welcome for it and to give thanks to the One who gave the blessings, it is prescribed to slaughter a sheep. The Messenger ﷺ said,
| “Every child is in pledge for it’s Aqî qah which is sacrificed for it on its seventh day, and it is named on it, and its head is shaved” (Abu Dawûd)|
If the new-born is a boy then two sheep are to be sacrificed, and if it is a girl then one sheep. This is the position of the majority of the scholars and Companions. The Prophet ﷺ said,
| “for the boy two equal sheep, and for the girl, a single sheep.” (Ibn Mâjah)|
So it is permissible to sacrifice the male or female sheep or goat, and this is best. As for sacrificing other animals then the scholars have differed over this.
The sacrifice should be done by the father or a close relative, for our Prophet ﷺ performed the Aqîqah for his two grandsons. It is also obligatory to mention the name of Allâh over it while sacrificing, and if a close relative is performing the Aqîqah then he should add, ‘this aqîqah is the Aqîqah of so and so’ mentioning the name of the person on whose behalf he is performing the aqîqah, as is reported in the hadî th related by al-Bayhaqî.
The meat of the sacrifice may be distributed cooked or uncooked,, but it is preferred that it should be cooked as this leads to greater blessing as mentioned by a group of the scholars.
Shaving the baby’s head
On the seventh day after the birth the head of the baby should be shaved. So when al-Hasan was born the Prophet ﷺ told his daughter, Faatima (RA),
| shave his head and give the weight of his hair in silver to the poor” (Ahmad)|
The right side of the head should be shaved first, then the left as mentioned in the hadîth,
| “shave, and he indicated to the right side of his head, and then the left” (Muslim)|
It is not permissible to shave a part of the head and leave a part, as this was prohibited by the Messenger ﷺ as reported by al-Bukhârî. The strongest view seems to be that the head of the boy or the girl should be shaved, as is reported that Faatimah weighed the hair of her daughter (Muwatta) but the scholars differ on this, and Allâh knows best.
The shaving should be done after the sacrifice, and our pious predecessors liked to rub some perfume over the baby’s head after the shaving.
Then it is prescribed to give the value of the baby’s weight of hair in silver in charity, and it is recommended to give this charity on the seventh day also, but it is not necessary to do so, and may be delayed.
It is prescribed that the boy be circumcised, it is recommended that the circumcision take place on the seventh day, but it is obligatory to circumcise before the boy reaches puberty.