Walking through Bin Dawood with my baby strapped to me and my son in his pram. I saw another lady walking through with two kids. I was looking for some Za’tar and mistook her to be Arab. After a quick conversation we quickly realized we were both fellow South Africans and we both were on Umrah with our kids. She had three whilst I had two. I remember when we booked the tickets, most people told me how incredibly difficult Umrah with kids could be. And as we chatted to each other – she said to me: “its impossible to be in the Haram all the time with kids”. Laughing across the date aisle in Bin Dawood we shook our heads – because being mums we understood that Umrah with little ones was not a walk in the park.
As a mother your responsibilities as a mother dont magically melt away. You probably have been researching the best tips to keep your kids occupied and how to balance your meal preps and snacks.
- Change your intention:
Being a mother, it is imperative that you understand the reason that you are taking your children with you. It can be so much easier to take them on a local holiday. It would be cheaper too. There isn’t the usual entertainment with beaches and pools. But you are taking them to the house of Allah to grant them the opportunity to build an attachment to the Sha’aair of Allah. To build a deep love of the Azaan, the Masaajid, the water of Zam- Zam , the City of Al Habeeb (s) . These are all Sha’aair – the salient features of Islam. You are not taking them just for Umrah – rather by choosing the House of Allah you are teaching them the importance of the very features of Islam.
- Prepare well but place your tawakkul on Allah:
Preparing for Umrah, I was gifted two leashes for Abbad, a travel pram and a specific bag. We had snacks and biscuits and every possible extra and ‘incase’ – but the reality is that Allah Ta’ala will test you on this trip. Your otherwise calm kids will become overstimulated, and whilst you get all the advice and pack in all the essentials remember that irrespective of how well you might prepare- everything will ultimately occur exactly as Allah has decreed it to be.
- Service to your family is a great Ibadah:
We usually define Ibadah by our time in Salah and time in the Masjidul Haram or Masjidun Nabawi. But as a mother there are moments when your children will have meltdowns. When they might not be able to handle going to the Masjid. You might find yourself at a war with yourself- desiring to be of those who spend their entire nights in the Masjid – yet in reframing your mind, you understand that your journey to the Holy Lands is blessed by the infinite reward of taking care of others.
- The best kind of tired:
Landing at O.R.Tambo International , we were waiting for our Zam Zam water and a fellow traveller shakes his head and tells my husband: “Umrah is exhausting isn’t it? “ And yes it is extremely exhausting even without kids. The constant walking to and from the Masjid within the massive crowds is fatiguing for us adults. Add the massive responsibility of taking care of your kids and dealing with tantrums, meltdowns and overtiredness can drain you. But this fatigue is a tired that is truly for the sake of Allah. We might holiday at the best beach destination and find ourselves fatigued at the end of the day – and yet this fatigue is one that is duo to the walking to the House of Allah , a tired from making tawaf or standing in Qiyaamul Layl . A fatigue of the body but a soul that is so refreshed and alive with the Rahma of Allah.
5. Incorporating Ibadah whilst you parent:
Finding myself outside Masjidul Qubaa whilst Abbad raced after the pigeons ,I used that time to recite as I walked behind him.Salawaat colored our trips and all the cats that we played with in Madina. Instead of playing tag-off-war between ibadah and parenting , I allowed myself to merge the two. Instead of waiting for that ideal moment , every moment became a moment to connect to Allah Ta’ala.