Babies are a blessing for anyone. In Islam, the Quran specifically cites instances where babies are blessed. Celebrating a new baby blesses both the parents and the guests. While many of these ideas may be second nature to a Muslim, they may not be as obvious to a non-Muslim. If you are planning on throwing a baby shower for your Muslim friend there are a few unique things to remember.
Traditionally, new parents celebrate Aqeeqa. This is a time of celebration with family and friends after the birth of the child to celebrate the blessing and ward off all evil. This is often a religious event. Baby showers before birth are becoming more popular in many Western countries. They are considered cultural norms and, as long as they don’t violate Islamic law, are perfectly allowable.
Be sure to time your shower properly so that the party doesn’t conflict with prayer times. Since these times are determined by the position of the sun, they change from day to day. This means you have two choices. You can consult one of the many websites that calculates Salah or prayer times for your city and plan your shower so that guests have time travel and get home between prayer times. Another option is to simply plan to have prayer at the shower. If you choose to pray together, make sure that you have enough prayer mats for each guest and decide where everyone can pray together. This may affect the planned party site.
Once you have chosen a time and place, it’s time to create the invitations. Why not use a quote from the Quran such as: “He creates you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation in three veils of darkness such as Allah your Lord.” (Surat Az Zumar 39:6) Add a picture of the mother cradling her stomach. Another option is to print a picture of the mother’s latest ultrasound, showing the child in the womb. Make sure that you include the mother’s gifts registry to make gift-giving easier.
While you are printing the invitations, go ahead and print coordinating thank you notes. You can include a quote from the Quran or a traditional phrase such as “May Allah reward you with goodness.” While you are addressing the invitations, address and stamp the thank you notes. Set them aside with a packet of sticky notes. During the party, write down each gift and stick it to a thank you note and put it in the envelope with the name of the giver. Hand the entire stack over to Mom-to-be. Then all she has to do is write a quick note about the gift and sent it out. This is a real boon in the last couple of months when time becomes short.
The first thing to consider when planning the menu for a Muslim baby shower is to make sure that all the food is Halel. This means that it meets the dietary laws of the Islamic Faith. In practicality, this means to avoid foods that contain pork or alcohol. But it isn’t as simple as just ditching the bacon and mimosas. It also means making sure that your food is prepared without gelatin, broth, lard or other animal shortening. Also look at some of the flavorings you might use in cooking. Choose those that have the letter “M” in a circle, since these have been checked and are considered pure.
In addition, think about how much food you prepare. Waste is considered unfaithful to the provisions sent. So, you should prepare only the food you need, so that guests can take only the food they will consume. Or, alternatively, you can cook an abundance of food, far more than you know your guests will eat. Then you can package up the excess and donate it to someone in need. Perhaps even package some of the food and freeze it so that the new parents will have quick meals ready towards the end of the pregnancy or after the baby is born.
Include the mother’s gift registry with the invitations. It will make gift-giving easier and reduce returns, making sure that the gifts are halel. Some items such as soap and lotion may contain ingredients forbidden by Islamic law. There are also more and more merchants offering faith-filled Islamic sayings on toys and onsies to encourage the faith of the family.
Think about how you want to handle gifts. Depending on the number of guests, just opening up the presents can take much of the party time. You can control it a little bit better by playing a timed opening game. As the mother begins to open each gift, set a timer for a 30 seconds to a minute. If the mother can’t get the gift completely open in that time, the giver gets a little prize. Besides turning the gift opening into a game, it also forces the party to keep going so that you can keep everyone on schedule. In addition, make sure that you reward the gift-givers with a little thank you gift to take home. This shares the blessings of the day.
Be careful about music and decorations. For some Muslims, only vocal music is permissible. While others listen to a wide range of popular tunes. In addition, pictures, sculptures or statues, even made in fun, are prohibited. So, it’s probably a good idea to leave that watermelon sculptured to look like a baby for another shower. Basically, if you are not Muslim, be sure to bring someone on board who knows the religion well before settling on these aspects.
That’s the biggest take-away for planning an Islamic Baby Shower. If you are already Muslim, you know the rules and the customs. If you aren’t Muslim, or haven’t been raised in the culture, it’s a good idea to seek out the mother-to-be’s family to make sure that you meet her expectations in a way that supports her faith.