Through studying the teachings of the holy infallibles (a.s.) regarding the rights of a newborn, one can conclude that a child in this stage has eight rights upon his family. These rights are as follows:
The day that Allah Almighty bestows a blessing upon a person is a day of festivity,1 being auspicious and blessed. A newborn is a great bounty for a family, and in reality a birthday party is a form of expressing gratitude for this great divine blessing. To congratulate and giving a banquet in honour of the newborn is also something highly recommended to do.
Remembering birthdays is to honour the divine blessing of the human being coming into existence. The newborn is brought into this world by Allah as a glorious blessing upon its family.
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) once asked Imam ‘Ali (a.s.): “What is the first blessing that Allah gave you?”
Imam ‘Ali (a.s.) answered: “That He, may His tribute be glorified, created me and I was absolutely nothing.”
Therefore, occasions such as birthdays or celebrating reaching the age of maturity (taklif) with the purpose of giving thanks for Allah’s blessings are good and commendable customs to observe, even though there is no particular evidence to indicate it is religiously recommended (mustahab).
2- Bathing the Newborn2
There are a few notable points in regards to washing a newborn child:
A) What is meant here in bathing is not simply washing, but a ritual religious bathing. Accordingly, the person who bathes the baby must observe the rulings of ritual bathing, as in the intention and the order of washing the parts.
B) This bathing is recommended, provided it does not harm the newborn in any way.3
C) The act of bathing the newborn is recommended to be done at the time of birth, and it is permissible to delay it for up to three days.4
D) Some of the early jurists viewed that the ritual bathing of a newborn is obligatory.5
Here are some following points important in this regard:
A) The Adhan must be recited in the right ear of the newborn, and the Iqamah in the left ear.
B) It is stated in some narrations that the time of reciting the Adhan and Iqamah in the ears of the newborn is after hearing it cry, and, in some other narrations it says that it is recommended to be done before the umbilical cord is cut.
C) This Islamic tradition indicates that the first sounds a baby hears play an important role in the nature of the child, and which also has many effects on his upbringing and future.
This means that it is recommended to mix a very small amount of the soil of Karbala with some water from the Euphrates6 and put in the newborn’s mouth.
The reason for doing so is that performing such an act will influence the child’s aspiration to seek truth, justice and love for Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), penetrating in newborn’s soul from the very beginning of his life, as has been mentioned in some traditions.7
The recommendation of other things like feeding the baby with rain water, warm water, dates and honey before anything else have also been mentioned in some traditions. Therefore, if possible, it is better to combine and mix honey, dates and some rain water or water from the Euphrates and then given to the baby.8
This also indicates that the first food given to the newborn, like the first voices the newborn hears, play an effective role in the fate of the child.
According to the traditions in Islam, choosing a good name for the newborn is considered as the first benevolent act the family performs for the child. It is imperative that through the guidelines set out by the Leaders of Islam, Muslim families must choose the best names for their children. These statements of guidance are:
A) Families can choose any good name for their child.
B) The best names are those which indicate the servitude and relation of a person to his Creator.
C) The best names are the names of the holy prophets, the infallibles and religious figures in Islam, and the best of all is the name Muhammad.
D) For those who Allah Almighty has granted four sons, it is blameworthy if they do not name one of them Muhammad.
E) Choosing a name for a child should be done before its birth, and if it is not known what the sex of the newborn is, they may choose a name which is appropriate to both.9 Of course, there is no problem in changing the name after the delivery.
F) It is recommended that after a boy is born to name him Muhammad for the first seven days, and then the parents may choose any other name they wish.
G) Certain names like Muhammad and Fatimah have special rights and respect that must be observed because of their connection with great Islamic characters.
H) There are some names that are reprehensible (makruh) because they symbolised the wrong and injustice, like: Shahab, Hariq, Hubab, Kalb, Firar, Harb, and Zalim.
I) It is reprehensible to put names that indicate pride, or something that’s negation in a conversation is considered as a bad omen, such as: Mubarak – the blessed, in which its negation is ‘the unblessed’.
J) The names that are befitting only to Allah, the Exalted, (like Quddus, Hakam, and Khaliq) should not be used as the name of someone, to which some jurists have considered this as prohibited.
It is a recommended act to shave the hair on the head of a newborn on the seventh day after the birth and donate its equal weight in gold or silver for charity, and there is no difference as to whether the newborn is a girl or a boy.
The things that must be observed in this regard are:
A) To offer a sacrifice for a child is a highly recommended act, and some jurists12 have even considered it obligatory.
B) It is recommended that the offering for a boy should be a male sheep and for a girl a female sheep.
C) The time of sacrifice is to be done on the seventh day after the birth, and if it is delayed any time after that it will still remain as a recommended practice. If the parents did not perform the ‘Aqiqah for the child, it is recommended that the child himself does so when he becomes mature.
D) It is recommended that the meat of the sacrifice be divided among the believers and to pray for the baby, but it is better to cook the meat and invite at least ten persons to eat and pray for the newborn.
E) It is recommended when cutting up the ‘Aqiqah not to break the bones. Another recommendation is that one leg and thigh, or rather one fourth of the sacrifice should be given to the midwife.
F) It is reprehensible for the parents and those supported by the father, not to eat from the offering, in particular the mother.13
G) It is recommended to recite the special supplication for the ‘Aqiqah while it is being slaughtered. The supplications narrated from Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) in this regard are abundant.14
It is a recommended act to circumcise the newborn boy on the seventh day after his birth, and it is permissible to delay it until up to the age of puberty. It is of precaution that the child’s parents would get him circumcised before puberty, but after puberty it is an urgent obligation and delaying it is not permissible.
It is also recommended that at the time of the act of circumcising the child, the related supplication should be recited.15
- 1. . The Arabic word ‘Id is derived from the root ‘awada which means ‘to return’, so the day on which missed out blessings are return to a person or to the society is called a festive day. However, this word gradually became used used for any auspicious or blessed day. The greater the blessing of Allah is, the festive is more magnificent and glorious with greater joy and happiness. Based on this definition, each day that a man does not commit a sin is counted a day of festivity for him. In this regard Imam ‘Ali (a.s.) has said: “Every day in which Allah is not disobeyed in is a festive ‘Id day.”
- 2. . Some jurists have presumed that what is meant is the general washing and cleaning of the newborn. Refer to: Jawahir al-Kalam, vol. 5, p. 71.
- 3. . Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, p. 31.
- 4. . al-’Urwah al-Wuthqa, vol. 2, p. 157.
- 5. . Jawahir al-Kalam, vol. 5, p. 71.
- 6. . Refer to h. 143-145.
- 7. . Refer to h. 142.
- 8. . Jawahir al-Kalam, vol. 31, p. 253.
- 9. . Refer to h. 148.
- 10. . A goat, cow, or a camel can also be sacrificed, and it is recommended to observe all rulings of slaughtering in them.
- 11. . Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, p. 316.
- 12. . Like Askafi, Sayyid Murtada and Fayz Kashani. Ahkam al-Atfal, p. 196.
- 13. . Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 21, p. 428.
- 14. . Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 15, p. 426-428.
- 15. . Refer to page 115, h. 193.