How to Welcome a Newborn in Islam

Written by d.w. scott
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How to Welcome a Newborn in Islam
Islam has developed a specific set of rituals for welcoming newborns. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Like most religions, Islam has a tradition by which a newborn is welcomed into the world and the faith. The specifics of this tradition are drawn from the Sunnah: The sayings and living habits of The Prophet Muhammad as recorded in the Qur'an or Koran. There are slight variations in the following practices and some differences as to which are compulsory (fard) or merely recommended (sunnah).

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  1. 1

    Recite the call to prayer, or Adhan, in the baby's right ear immediately after the newborn has been washed. The call to prayer precedes worship in Islam and is roughly translated as: "God is great, there is no God but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." This is traditionally the responsibility of the father. These holy words should be the first the newborn hears.

  2. 2

    Rub a piece of softened date along the baby's gum or palate. This practice is called Tahneek and can be done by the father or mother or anyone in a position to offer a prayer of supplication on the child's behalf soon after birth. Such supplication usually precedes Tahneek. The baby's first taste should be of something sweet; this also stimulates the newborn's digestive enzymes. If a date is unavailable, an alternative such as honey is acceptable.

  3. 3

    Name the child. This is done on the day of birth itself, or the seventh day after in conjunction with circumcision and sacrifice (See Steps 5 and 6). Approved names include the names of the prophets or any noteworthy martyrs as recorded in the Qur'an including names like Abdullaah that indicate service to Allah.

  4. 4

    Shave the baby's head. This practice is traditionally carried out on the seventh day after birth; it should be done from right to left, after which the newborn's head is anointed with saffron. Tradition then calls for the parents to give the weight of the baby's hair in silver or gold to charity, though an estimate is also accepted. If a sacrifice (see Step 6) is performed on the seventh day as well, the shaving of the head follows.

    How to Welcome a Newborn in Islam
    The seventh day after birth is a preferred time for several rituals including shaving the baby's head. (Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images News/Getty Images)
  5. 5

    Circumcise the baby if the newborn is a boy. Though circumcision of girls does take place among fundamentalists, mainstream Islam has disavowed the practice. This is ideally carried out on the seventh day as well, but may take place at any time before puberty.

  6. 6

    Sacrifice a permitted animal --- usually a sheep or a goat --- on behalf of the newborn. The traditional teaching calls for two sheep to be sacrificed for a boy and one for a girl. However, one is acceptable for a boy if that is all finances permit. This ritual, called Aqeeqah, is ideally performed on the seventh day after birth in conjunction with naming, circumcision and shaving of the head. The meat is usually cooked and then shared with relatives and also donated to the poor. While the seventh day is best, the fourteenth or twenty-first days are acceptable. While traditionally it was the father or close relative who carried out the sacrifice, it is common practice for a professional butcher to take care of it.

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