1. Fresh dates1
a. It is narrated that the Prophet (S) said: “The first thing a woman should eat after delivery should be ratb (a type of fresh date), as Allāh (SwT) told Haďrat Maryam after delivering Prophet (S) °Isā to eat ratb.2” When asked, ““If it is not the season for ratb?” He replied, “Then nine dates from Medina, and if these are also not available, then any nine dates. Surely Allāh (SwT) has stated: ‘I swear by My Honour and Glory, that any woman who has recently delivered and eats ratb, I will make her child patient.’”
b. It is narrated from Imām °Alī (as) that feed Birni dates (a type of date) to women after the birth of their child, so that the child becomes clever and patient.
c. Eating dates is not only beneficial for the mother but has an effect on breast milk as well, and is also beneficial when fed to children.3 For newborns, it is narrated from Imām °Alī (as) that put a little bit of date in the mouth of the child, and the Prophet (S) did the same with Imām Hasan (as) and Imām Husain (as).
2. Euphrates Water and Khakhe Shafaa4 (on the roof of the child’s mouth)
b. It is narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) that khakhe shafaa should be placed in the mouth of the child, as this protects him/her from pains and tribulations.7
c. In another tradition from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as), it is narrated that he said: “There isn’t a person who drinks Euphrates water and puts it in the mouth of his child, except that he is a friend of ours, because the Euphrates is the river of a mu’min (believer).”8
a. It is narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) that when a child is born, obtain some milk from the mother (the size of a lentil), mix it in water and put two drops in the right nostril of the baby, and then the left, and recite Adhān in his right ear and Iqāmah in his left, before they take the umbilical cord away. If this is done, fear will never reach the child and Umme Sabyān (a Jinn) will never trouble him/her.9
1. Acceptance of the child, whether boy or girl
Unfortunately, even today, many still have the stereotype that girls are undesirable and treat sons and daughters differently. Whereas, it is clear in the Qur`an that the child is a creation of Allāh (SwT) and He grants a boy to whomsoever He pleases and a girl to whomsoever He pleases.10
It is narrated that when Imām Zain al-°Abidīn was given glad tidings of the birth of his child, he didn’t ask whether it was a boy or a girl, but rather first asked, is his creation ok? Then, if told that the child was healthy and there was no defect in the creation, he recited:
أَلْحَمْدُ لِلٌّهِ الَّذِي لَمْ يَخْلُقْ مِنِّي شَيْئاً مُشَوَّهاً.
“Praise Be to Allāh (SwT) who did not create from me something disfigured.”11
It is narrated from the Prophet (S): “It is prosperous for the woman that her first child be a daughter.”12
It has been narrated that daughters are goodness and blessings and sons are favours. One will be questioned about the favours given to them, whereas goodness and blessings will be increased.13
2. Recitation of Adhān and Iqāmah
The Prophet (S) stated that whomever a child is born to, should recite Adhān in the right ear and Iqāmah in the left ear, as this is a protection from the evil of Satan.14
Additionally, in another tradition it is stated that the mid-wife or someone else should be told to recite the Iqāmah in the right ear so that the Jinn will never trouble the child, nor will it become mad.15
It is also narrated that the Prophet (S) ensured that Adhān and Iqāmah were recited in the ears of Imām Hasan (as) and Imām Husain (as), as well as Surat al-Fātiĥa, Ayat al-Kursī, the end of Surat al-Hashr, Surat al-Ikĥlāŝ, Surat al-Falaq and Surat al-Nās.16
3. Clothes of the child
From traditions at the time of the birth of Imām Hasan (as) and Imām Husain (as), it is apparent that it is Makrūh to tie the child in yellow cloth just after birth; rather it is recommended to tie him/her in white cloth.17
It has been mentioned in Fiqh al-Riďā that one of the emphasized mustaĥab acts (some even call it obligatory) after the birth of a child is giving it a Ghusl. One should make a intention that I am giving this child a Ghusl for the pleasure of Allāh (SwT), and then first wash the head, then the right side, and then the left side.18
However, it should be noted that this should only be done if it is medically safe and not harmful to the baby.
5. Shaving the hair19
This involves shaving of all the hair of the child (from in the womb) once after birth, and giving gold or silver according to the weight of the hair as ŝadaqah. The hair should then be buried in the ground. It is recommended to do this on the 7th day after birth.
The hair should completely be shaved off, leaving no forelock or ringlet. It is narrated that a boy who had a forelock was brought near the Prophet (S); the Prophet (S) did not pray for him and said that his forelock should be shaved off.
It is recommended that after the shaving of the hair, saffron should be massaged into the head. Massaging the blood of the aqīqah however, is strongly discouraged, and has been called an act of ignorance (Jāhiliat).
This involves slaughtering an animal in the name of the child for his/her protection. °Aqīqah is a highly recommended sunnah for anyone who has the capability (some even call it obligatory), and it is better if performed on the 7th day after birth. 22
NOTE: It is recommended that the shaving of the hair, giving of the gold/silver as ŝadaqah and °Aqīqah should be carried out in the same place and at one time, although it is sunnah that the shaving of the hair takes place first.
NOTE: It is narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) that aqīqah is not the same as sacrifice (qurbānī)
7. Circumcision of boys23
Circumcision is obligatory on boys, and as with shaving and aqīqah, it is recommended that it be done on the 7th day after the birth of the child, although if done earlier, there is no harm.24
If not done then, it is sunnah that it be done until the bulugh of the child, after which it is obligatory on the child himself to do it. However, other ulema have stated that as the child nears puberty, it is obligatory on the guardian. Indeed, it is narrated from Imām °Alī that a person who becomes a Muslim should be circumcised, even if he is 80 years old.
It is narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) that children should be circumcised as it makes the body cleaner, makes the meat of the body grow faster, and the earth has an aversion to the urine of an uncircumcised person.
It is narrated from the Prophet (S) that the earth becomes najis for 40 days from the urine of an uncircumcised person, and in another tradition, it is narrated that the earth groans to Allāh (SwT) because of his urine.
It is also narrated that if you circumcise a boy, and the sheath grows again and covers the penis, circumcise him again, because the earth groans to Allāh (SwT) for 40 days because of the covering of his circumcision.
It is narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “Somebody who has not been circumcised should not lead prayers, and his witness is not accepted, and if he dies, do not pray for him as he has left the biggest sunnah of the Prophet (S), unless he has left it for fear of death (resulting from circumcision).”
It is recommended to recite the following Du°ā at the time of circumcision25:
أَللٌّهُمَّ هٌذِهِ سُنَّتُكَ وَ سُنَّةُ نَبِيِّكَ (صَلَوَاتُكَ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ) وَ اتِّـبَاعٌ مِنَّا لَكَ وَ لِدِيـنِكَ بِمَشِيَّـتِكَ وَ بِإِرَادَتِكَ لِأَمْرٍ أَرَدْتَهُ وَ قَضَآءٍ حَـتَمْتَهُ وَ أَمْرٍ أَنْفَذْتَهُ فَأَذَقْتَهُ حَرَّ الْحَدِيدِ فِي خِتَانِهِ وَ حِجَامَتِهِ لِأَمْرٍ أَنْتَ أَعْرَفُ بِهِ مِنِّي. أَللٌّهُمَّ فَطَهِّرْهُ مِنَ الذُّنُوبِ وَ زِدْ فِي عُمْرِهِ وَ ادْفَعِ الآفَاتِ عَنْ بَدَنِهِ وَ الأَوْجَاعِ عَنْ جِسْمِهِ وَ زِدْهُ مِنَ الْغِنىً وَ ادْفَعْ عَنْهُ الْفَقْرَ فَإِنَّكَ تَعْلَمُ وَ إِنَّا لاَ نَعْلَمُ.
“O Allāh (SwT)! Surely (what we are performing) is in line with Your tradition and the tradition (Sunnah) of Your Prophet (S) (may Your blessings be upon him and his family) - to obey You and Your religion and to fulfill Your will, intention and to carry out the rules which You have decided to make to be followed unconditionally. You have thus given him the taste of the heat of the iron through his circumcision and cupping for a matter which You definitely know better than I do. O Allāh (SwT)! Then cleanse him of sins; increase his age; and release from his body, epidemics and pains; and increase his wealth; and save him from poverty; since surely You know better and we do not know.”
This involves feeding the believers upon the birth of the child and for the circumcision of the child (these can be combined). It is highly recommended to invite family and friends on the 7th day after the birth of the child (or near that day) to share in the auspicious occasion of the birth of the newborn.
It is narrated from the Prophet (S): “A walīmah on the first day is a duty, on the second day good, and on the third day, riyā (i.e. for the sake of other people and not for the sake of Allāh (SwT)).”26
It is Makrūh that all the invitees be rich, but a mix of rich and poor is not a problem. It is also mustaĥab that the invitees should accept the invitation to a walīmah.
9. Piercing the ears
Piercing the ears of the child is recommended.27
One of the best acts after birth is cleaning the child and returning him/her next to the mother’s skin and covering them with one blanket. Half an hour after birth, the child is completely aware and alert and it is the best time for him/her to become familiar with breastfeeding and the mother’s touch.
The first few day a lot of milk is not produced; however, the amount produced is enough, useful and necessary for the new-born child. It is important that as much as possible, tiredness of the mother and lack of milk are not used as reasons to bottle-feed the child as this results in delayed milk production from the mother and the child not being able to suck properly. It also increases the possibilities of infections in the child.
It is narrated30 that the life of a child is bound by °Aqīqah31, and if it is not carried out, it exposes one to tribulation and death. If delayed, it is sunnah on the father until the bulugh of the child, and after bulugh, it is sunnah on the child himself.32
It is narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) that aqīqah is necessary for any rich man, and if one is poor, he should perform aqīqah once he obtains some money, and if he does not obtain any money, then it is ok. If one has not performed aqīqah, and he carried out a sacrifice (qurbani), this will suffice.
It is narrated that somebody asked Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “We have asked for a sheep for aqīqah but cannot get one, what do you suggest? Should we give the value of the sheep as ŝadaqah instead?” Imām replied, “No, ask until you get one as Allāh (SwT) likes the feeding of (others)...”
°Umar bin Yazīd narrates that he asked Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “I don’t know if my father performed aqīqah for me or not.” Imām replied, “Perform it,” and so he performed aqīqah in his old age.
In another tradition it is related that somebody asked Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) that if a child dies on the 7th day, should aqīqah still be carried out? Imām replied if the child dies before Dhuhr, aqīqah is not necessary, but if the child died after zuhr, then do it.
It is common among the ulema that the °Aqīqah should be a sheep, a camel or a goat, and that the °Aqīqah of a boy should be a male animal and the °Aqīqah of a girl should be a female animal.
If it is a camel, it should be 5 years or older. If it is a goat, it should be 1 year or older.
If it is a sheep, it should be at least 6 months or older and it is better if the 7th month has been completed. Its testicles should not be cut and it is better if the testicles is not squashed either. Its horn should not be broken (such that it bled) and its ears should not be cut. It should not be too thin, nor blind, nor should it be so lame that walking is difficult for it.
However, it is important to note that as narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as), °Aqīqah is not the same as sacrifice (qurbānī) which has stricter criteria for the type of animal that is sacrificed. Therefore, if it is not possible that the above criteria be met, any sheep is fine, although the fatter it is the better.
At the time of slaughtering the animal for °Aqīqah, the following supplications should be recited:
1. At the end of the supplication, one should say his name and the name of his father [for example, if the father’s name is Ťāhir and his father’s name is °Abdullah you would say, Ťāhir ibne (the son of) °Abdullah]. This supplication begins with Verses 78 and 79 of Surat al-An°ām followed by Verses 162 and 169 of Surat al-An°ām:
يَا قَوْمِ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ. إِنِّي وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِي فَطَرَ السَّمٌوَاتِ وَ الأَرْضَ حَنِيفاً مُسْـلِماً وَ مَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ. إِنَّ صَلاَتِي وَ نُسُكِي وَ مَحْيَايَ وَ مَـمَاتِي لِلٌّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِـين لاَ شَـرِيكَ لَهُ وَ بِذٌلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَ أَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِـينَ. أَللٌّهُمَّ مِنْكَ وَ إِلَـيْكَ بِسْمِ اللٌّهِ وَ اللٌّهُ أَكْـبَرُ. أَللٌّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلـى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ تَقَـبَّلْ مِنْ... [Name of father and his father]
“O my nation! Surely I disown myself from that which you associate (with Allāh (SwT)).” “Surely I have turned my entire presence towards He who has brought forth the Heavens and the Earth, sincerely and I am not of those who set up partners (with Allāh (SwT)). Surely my ŝalāť and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all entirely for Allāh (SwT), the Lord of the All the Worlds, He has no partners and to this I have been commanded (to attest to) and I am the first of those who submit as Muslims.” “O’ Allāh (SwT)! Surely this (animal) is from You and it goes back to You in the Name of Allāh (SwT) and Allāh (SwT) is greater than any description which can be mentioned of Him. O Allāh (SwT)! Shower your prayers upon Muĥammad and the family of Muĥammad and accept this from [your name and your father’s name.]”
2. The following supplication should also be read while the animal is being slaughtered (whether the child is a boy or girl):
بِسْمِ اللٌّهِ وَ بِاللٌّهِ وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلٌّهِ وَ اللٌّهُ أَكْبَرُ إِيْمَاناً بِاللٌّهِ وَ ثَنَاءً عَلـى رَسُولِ اللٌّهِ (صَلَّى اللٌّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ) وَ شُكْراً لِرِزْقِ اللٌّهِ وَ عِصْمَةً بِأَمْرِ اللٌّهِ وَ مَعْرِفَةً بِفَضْلِهِ عَلَيْنَا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ.
“In the Name of Allāh (SwT) and in Allāh (SwT) and All Praise belongs solely to Allāh (SwT) and Allāh (SwT) is Greater than any description which can be mentioned of Him. With full faith in Allāh (SwT) and admiration upon the Messenger of Allāh (SwT) (may the blessings of Allāh (SwT) be upon him and his family) and they are thankful for the sustenance of Allāh (SwT) and the protection afforded by the command of Allāh (SwT) and complete cognizance with His bounties upon us the Ahlul Bayt.”
If the child is a boy, then the following supplication should also be said:
أَللٌّهُمَّ أَنْتَ وَهَبْتَ لَنَا ذَكَراً وَ أَنْتَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَهَبْتَ، وَ مِنْكَ مَا أَعْطَيْتَ وَ لَكَ مَا صَنَعْنَا فَتَقَبَّلْهُ مِنَّا عَلـى سُنَّتِكَ وَ سُنَّةِ رَسُولِكَ (صَلَّى اللٌّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ) وَ أَخْسِءْ عَنَّا الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ، لَكَ سَفَكْتُ الدِّمَاءَ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَكَ وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلٌّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِـينَ.
“O Allāh (SwT)! You have gifted us with a son and You know better what You have gifted us, and back to You is that which You have granted to us and back to You is that which we make - so then accept from it (this sacrifice) from us upon Your Tradition (Sunnah) and the Tradition (Sunnah) of Your Messenger (may the blessings of Allāh (SwT) be upon him and his family) and keep us distanced from the accursed Satan. For You the blood (of this animal) has been spilt, and You have no partners and all the Praise belongs solely to Allāh (SwT), the Lord of all the Worlds.”
3. The follow supplication should also be recited at the time of the slaughtering of the animal. When one reaches to the square brackets, you would say the name of the child and his or her father [for example, if the child’s name is Jābir and his father’s name is Kumayl, then you would say: Jābir ibne (the son of) Kumayl] and then continue on with the rest of the supplication. The first version of the supplication is for a boy, the second supplication is if the child is a girl.
بِسْمِ اللٌّهِ وَ بِاللٌّهِ أَللٌّهُمَّ هٌذِهِ عَقِيقَةٌ عَنْ [Name of child and his father] لَحْمِهَا بِلَحْمِهِ وَ دَمِهَا بِدَمِهِ وَ عَظْمِهَا بِعَظْمِهِ. أَللٌّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا وِقَاءً لَهُ بِآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللٌّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ وَ سَلَّمَ.
“In the Name of Allāh (SwT) and by Allāh (SwT), this aqīqah (slaughtering of an animal) is for [name of the child and his father’s first name]. Its flesh instead of his flesh; its blood instead of his blood; its bones instead of his bones are all offered to You. O Allāh (SwT)! accept it for that by which this child may be protected and preserved, in the name of the progeny of Muĥammad, blessings of Allāh (SwT) be upon him and his progeny.”
بِسْمِ اللٌّهِ وَ بِاللٌّهِ أَللٌّهُمَّ هٌذِهِ عَقِيقَةٌ عَنْ [Name of child and her father] لَحْمِهَا بِلَحْمِهَا وَ دَمِهَا بِدَمِهَا وَ عَظْمِهَا بِعَظْمِهَا. أَللٌّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا وِقَاءً لَهَا بِآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللٌّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ وَ سَلَّمَ
“In the Name of Allāh (SwT) and by Allāh (SwT), this aqīqah (slaughtering of an animal) is for [name of the child and her father’s first name]. Its flesh instead of her flesh; its blood instead of her blood; its bones instead of her bones are all offered to You. O Allāh (SwT)! accept it for that by which this child may be protected and preserved, in the name of the progeny of Muĥammad, blessings of Allāh (SwT) be upon him and his progeny.”
It is recommended that the bones should not be broken; rather they should be separated at the joints. It is also better that the meat be distributed cooked (with at least salt and water) and the raw hide be given as ŝadaqah.
It is recommended that the legs and thighs of the aqīqah (this can either be counted as one third or one fourth of the sheep depending on the method of division) should be given to the mid-wife (or doctor) that helped during the delivery and the rest should be given to the people to eat as ŝadaqah. If the mid-wife or doctor is a Jew, then the value of a quarter of a sheep should be given.
If the child was born without a mid-wife or doctor, it should be given to the mother who can give it to whomever she wants; she should give it to at least ten Muslims, and if she can give it to more, it is better. It is not necessary that the meat should only be given to the poor; however, it is better that it is given to the pious and the poor.
It is recommended that the father and mother (and those who are dependant on them, such as parents and children) do not eat from the cooked meat of the °Aqīqah, and this has been emphasized especially for the mother.
It is narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) that he congratulated someone for the child that God had blessed him with in the following manner (there have been many similar narrations from Imām Hasan (as) also)33:
رَزَقَكَ اللٌّهُ شُكْرَ الْوَاهِبِ وَ بَارَكَ لَكَ فِي الْمَوْهُوبِ وَ بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَ رَزَقَكَ اللٌّهُ بِرَّهُ.
“May Allāh (SwT) bless you, and bless that which He has granted you, and make him reach physical maturity, and (May) Allāh (SwT) bless you with his righteousness.”34
It is narrated35 from Imām al-Kādhim (as) that the first good a father can do for his child is to give him a good name.
It is the right of the child that his parents give him a good name and treat him well.36 In another tradition it is narrated that among the rights of a child are a good name, teaching him to write and marrying him off when he reaches the age of bulugh.37
It is narrated from Imām °Alī (as): “A child should be named while in the stomach, and if not named and is miscarried, on the Day of Judgement it will ask its father, “Why did you not name me?” The Prophet (S) named Muĥsin, the son of Haďrat Fāťima while in the stomach, and Muĥsin is that child that after the Prophet (S) passed away, he was still in the stomach when °Umar made him a martyr.”
It is narrated from the Imāms (as) that: “A son is not born to us, the Ahlul Bayt, except that he is named Muĥammad for 7 days, and then if desired, it can be changed or removed.”38
It has been mentioned in Fiqh al-Riďā that fix the name (i.e. announce the name to others) on the 7th day.
Naming the children after the Ahlul Bayt (as) is an open declaration of love and friendship towards them, and religion is nothing but love and friendship of the Ahlul Bayt (as), as Allāh (SwT) states in the Noble Qur`an, in Surat Āli-’ Imrān, Verse 31:
إِنْ كُنْـتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللٌّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللٌّهُ...
“If you love Allāh (SwT), then follow me (the Prophet (S)); Allāh (SwT) will love you…”
It is narrated from Imām al-Bāqir (as) that the most suitable names for a child are those that denotes servitude to Allāh (SwT), like °Abdullāh (servant of Allāh (SwT)), and the best names for a child are those of the Prophets.
The Prophet (S) said that whoever has four children and has not named any of them after me, has oppressed me.39
It is narrated from the Prophet (S): “In a house where the names of some of the individuals are of Prophet (S)s, the blessings of that house will never disappear.”40
In another tradition, it has been narrated from Imām al-Kādhim (as) that poverty and indigence will never enter the house in which the name Muĥammad, or Aĥmad, or °Alī, or °asan, or Husain, or Ja°far, or Ťālib, or °Abdullāh, or Fāťima is present.41
It is narrated from Imām Husain (as): “If I had a hundred children, I would have liked to name all of them °Alī.”42
It is narrated that a person came to the Prophet (S) and asked, “A son has come to us, what should I name him?” The Prophet (S) replied, “Name him the best of names with me, and that is Hamza.”
It is narrated from Jābir who said: I went with Imām al-Bāqir (as) to someone’s house and a child came out. Imām asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Muĥammad.”
Imām asked him, “What is your title (kunyah)?” He replied, “Abu °Alī.” Imām said, “You have taken yourself out of Satan’s stronghold. Surely, every time Satan hears someone being called, Ya Muĥammad! Ya °Alī! he withers away and when he hears someone being called by the name of our enemies, he becomes happy and takes pride in that.”
In another tradition it is narrated that someone came to Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) and said that Allāh (SwT) had given him a boy. Imām congratulated him, and asked, “What have you named him?” He replied, “Muĥammad.” Imām turned his head down towards the floor and kept repeating the name Muĥammad until his face almost touched the ground.
Then he said, “My life, my children, my wives, my father, my mother and all of the people of this earth be sacrificed for the Prophet (S). Because you have given him such a blessed name, do not abuse him and do not hit him and do not make bad reach him. And know this that there is not a house in which the name of Muhammed is present, but that everyday, that house is made Noble and pure.”
In another tradition it is narrated that one should respect a daughter whose name is Fāťima and not abuse her and never hit her.43
The titles of Haďrat Fāťima (sa) can also be used for names of daughters:
Mubāraka: The one who is blessed.
Ťāhira: The one who is pure.
Zakiyya: The one who is wise.
Rāďiya: The one who is content.
Marďiyya: The one whom Allāh (SwT) is pleased with.
Ŝiddīqa: The one who is truthful.
Muĥaddathah: The one that angels talk to.
Muĥaddithah: The one that narrates traditions.
Zahra: The luminous one.
In several traditions it has been narrated that the Prophet (S) has forbidden naming a child with the following names: Hākim, Hakim, Khālid and Mālik. And he has said that the worst names with Allāh (SwT) are Hārith, Mālik and Khālid. And when the name is Muĥammad, he has forbidden 4 titles (kunyah): Abu °Isā, Abul Hakim, Abu Mālik and Abul Qāsim, as both the name and title are not agreeable to the Prophet (S).
In tradition, it has been narrated that one should not name the child Yāsīn, as that is specific to the Prophet (S).