The Manners of Welcoming the New-Born Child in Islām
Consists of listed information about what the parents need to do when their child is born.
Our Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) was a living example, educating, cultivating the Muslims upon the practices of Islām, teaching them how to worship their Lord in the best of ways.
Children are a source of delight and an adornment for the world granted by Allāh to their parents, they give vigour 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"
and they 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 Islām is carried. Indeed Islām 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 and from these are the manners for welcoming their arrival in this life.
Our Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) was a living example, educating, cultivating the Muslims upon the practices of Islām, 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 (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) taught us with regards our new-born.
Encouragement to have Children
Allāh says, "So now have sexual relations with them,, and seek that which Allāh has ordained for you."
And the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "Marry the loving and fertile because through you, I will compete with the nations for superiority in numbers." (Abū Dāwūd)
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. Allāh's Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) 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 Mājah)
Know that what has preceded applies equally to both boys and girls, and indeed Islām has encouraged the bringing up of girls, and Allāh condemns those that are distressed at the birth of a girl, and the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) came elevating the status of this gift from Allāh,
"whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood - he and I will come together on the Day of Resurrection (like this) - and he interlaced his two fingers." (Muslim)
meaning in Paradise. So can there be a greater honour 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. Allāh mentions this good news being conveyed to a number of His Prophets, from them Zakariyyā of his son Yahya,
"Then the angels called him, while he was standing in prayer in a private room (saying), 'Allāh gives you glad tidings of Yahya'"
This means to soften a date and rubibng 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 on the finger and rubibng it from left to right in the mouth of the baby.
Ibn Hajr said, "if one 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 (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) due to the blessings that Allāh 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 tahneek and supplicate for the child as was the practice of the Companions.
Imām al-Nawawī says, " scholars are agreed upon the recommendation of performing tahneek upon the baby after it's birth." (Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 4/122)
Āʾishah (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhā) reports, "new-born children used to be brought to the Messenger of Allāh 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 on the day of its birth or later on the seventh day or past the seventh day, as this is what is clear after study of all the evidence 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 Allāh says,
"Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just in the Sight of Allāh"
It is also allowed for the parents to allow others to name the child, since our Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) used to name some of the children of his Companions.
The name should carry a good and praiseworthy meaning as the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said,
"On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and your fathers names, so make your names good." (Abū Dāwūd)
It is recommended to call oneself a servant of Allāh (ʿAbdullāh) or the servant of any of the names of Allāh. Then it is recommended to name a child after a prophet, due to the ḥadīth,
"call yourselves by the names of the Prophets" (Abū Dāwūd)
and the ḥadīth,
"a son was born to me this night and I called him after my forefather Ibrāhīm" (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 Allāh, for example Abd an-Nabi, Abd al-Rasūl 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 Firʿawn, Qarūn, Abū Lahab etc.. Likewise it is disliked to name with the names of the Sūrahs of the Qurʾān like 'Ṭā Hā' or 'Yā Sīn' as is reported from Imām Mālik and others. There is no authentic ḥadīth which ascribes the above two as being names of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam).
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 (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said,
"Every child is in pledge for it's ʿaqīqah which is sacrificed for it on its seventh day, and it is named on it, and its head is shaved" (Abū Dāwūd)
If the new-born is a boy then two sheep are to be sacrificed, and if it is a girl then one sheep. This is the position of the majority of the scholars and Companions. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said,
"for the boy two equal sheep, and for the girl, a single sheep." (Ibn Mājah)
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 (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) performed the ʿaqīqah for his two grandsons. It is also obligatory to mention the name of Allāh over it while sacrificing, and if a close relative is performing the ʿaqīqah then he should add, 'this ʿaqīqah is the ʿaqīqah of so and so' mentioning the name of the person on whose behalf he is performing the ʿaqīqah, as is reported in the ḥadīth related by al-Bayḥaqī.
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-Ḥasan was born the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) told his daughter, Faatima (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhā),
"shave his head and give the weight of his hair in silver to the poor" (Aḥmad)
The right side of the head should be shaved first, then the left as mentioned in the ḥadīth,
"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 (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) as reported by al-Bukhārī. The strongest view seems to be that the head of the boy or the girl should be shaved, as is reported that Fāṭimah weighed the hair of her daughter (Muwaṭṭa) but the scholars differ on this, and Allāh 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 baby's weight of hair in silver in charity, and it is recommended to give this charity on 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