Manners of Welcoming the New Born Child in Islam
By Yusuf ibn Abdullah al-Arafi
Translated by Abu Talhah Dawud ibn Ronald Burbank
Children are a source of delight and an adornment for the world granted by Allah to their parents, they give vigor 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" [Noble Quran 17:24]
Children 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 Islam is carried. Islam 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 lives, and from these are the manners for welcoming their arrival in this life.
Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a living example, educating, cultivating the Muslims upon the practices of Islam, 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 (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us with regards our new-born.
Encouragement to have Children
Allah says, "So now have sexual relations with them, and seek that which Allah has ordained for you." [Noble Quran 2:187]
And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Marry the loving and fertile because through you, I will compete with the nations for superiority in numbers" [Abu Dawud]
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. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) 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 Majah]
Know that what has preceded applies equally to both boys and girls, and indeed Islam has encouraged the bringing up of girls, and Allah condemns those that are distressed at the birth of a girl, and the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) came elevating the status of this gift from Allah,
"whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood - he and I will come together o要 the Day of Resurrection (like this) - and he interlaced his two fingers" [Muslim]
meaning in Paradise. So can their be a greater honor 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. Allah 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), 'Allah gives you glad tidings of Yahya'." [Noble Quran 3:39]
This means to soften a date and then rub 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 o要 the finger and rubbing it from left to right in the mouth of the baby.
Ibn Hajr said, "if o要e 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 (peace and blessings be upon him) due to the blessings that Allah 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 Tahnik and supplicate for the child as was the practice of the Companions.
Imam Nawawi says, "Scholars are agreed upon the recommendation of performing tahnik upon the baby after its birth." [Sharh Sahih Muslim 4/122]
Ayshah reports, "new-born children used to be brought to the Messenger of Allah 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 o要 the day of it's birth or later o要 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 Allah says,
"Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just in the Sight of Allah" [Noble Quran 33:5]
It is also allowed for the parents to allow others to name the child, since our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to name some of the children of his Companions.
The name should carry a good and praiseworthy meaning as the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
"On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and your fathers names, so make your names good." [Abu Dawud]
It is recommended to call o要eself a servant of Allah (Abdullah) or the servant of any of the names of Allah. Then it is recommended to name a child after a Prophet, due to the hadith,
"Call yourselves by the names of the Prophets" [Abu Dawud]
and the hadith,
"A son was born to me this night and I called him after my forefather Ibrahim" [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 Allah, for example Abd an-Nabi, Abd ar-Rasul etc, just as it is forbidden to name them with names that are particular to the Unbelievers like George, Michael, Susan etc.
The names of tyrants and evil personalities should be avoided such as Fir'awn, Qarun, Abu Lahab etc.. Likewise it is disliked to name with the names of the Surahs of the Quran like 'Ta Ha' or 'Ya Sin' as is reported from Imam Malik and others. There is no authentic hadith which ascribes the above two as being names of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
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 (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
"Every child is in pledge for its Aqiqah which is sacrificed for it o要 its seventh day, and it is named o要 it, and its head is shaved" [Abu Dawud]
If the new-born is a boy then two sheep are to be sacrificed, and if it is a girl then o要e sheep. This is the position of the majority of the scholars and Companions. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
"For the boy two equal sheep, and for the girl, a single sheep." [ibn Majah]
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 (peace and blessings be upon him) performed the Aqiqah for his two grandsons. It is also obligatory to mention the name of Allah over it while sacrificing, and if a close relative is performing the Aqiqah then he should add, 'This Aqiqah is the Aqiqah of so and so' mentioning the name of the person on whose behalf he is performing the Aqiqah, as is reported in the hadith related by al-Bayhaqi.
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 (peace and blessings be upon him) told his daughter, Fatima,
"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 hadith,
"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 (peace and blessings be upon him) as reported by al-Bukhari. The strongest view seems to be that the head of the boy or the girl should be shaved, as is reported that Fatimah weighed the hair of her daughter (Muwatta) but the scholars differ o要 this, and Allah 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 weight of the baby's hair in silver in charity, and it is recommended to give this charity o要 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.