This past Saturday was one of the best days that I’ve had in a long time. It was the aqiqa feast for baby #2. That’s right! She’s out(–she actually came out two days after the previous post!)…and it was pouring cats, dogs, elephants, coyotes, and every other animal at the zoo during her feast. This matters because…the aqiqa was outdoors at a state park! But she still had a beautiful reception. And we learned who really loved us–the people who came and stayed through the thunderstorm, getting soaking wet to their underwear (multiple times as it poured off and on!) just to welcome our baby to the world.
Subhanallah! In adversity, true colors come forth, just like the sun that greeted us after the rainstorm, making a rainbow. We had friends as far as Richmond come up as well as friends from around the Beltway. The rain reminded me of the movie, Monsoon Wedding and it was the first real soaking rain of this summer…a blessing as we’ve been experiencing a bit of a heat wave in these parts, heat advisories and all! And as couple of our family and friends remarked, it was Allah’s rahma (mercy) descending during the aqiqa because as the hadiths go, “Rain is a mercy” and “There are two which will not be rejected: du’a at the time of the call (to prayer) and when it is raining” (Abu Dawud).
This beautiful welcoming party by family, friends, and the elements alike reminded me of one of the first books that I purchased for Noora while I was still expecting, if not the first. It’s by one of my favorite children’s and young adult book authors, Na’ima bint Robert, and is entitled Welcome to the World, Baby! In it, we meet an elementary-age class who discover the different ways that families welcome babies into the world through their senses. It’s a multicultural dream come true, and stars a lot of Muslim children. On one of my favorite pages, a child takes out an envelope with a lock of her brother’s hair in order to show and tell about the Muslim tradition of shaving a child’s head and donating the hair’s weight to charity. Two children later, I can now smile at this page.
But I remember when I first learned about the Prophetic tradition of shaving a newborn’s hair on the seventh day after birth. I was a bit horrified for my little girl (it wouldn’t have been a problem for a little boy to me), but it was sunnah so I pressed on. Honestly, I tried to get out of it. I researched every hadith I could find and called all of my more knowledgeable friends and some of my already-mommy friends. But it all came down to the same thing. Shave your child’s head on the seventh day or on a multiple of the seventh day. That’s the sunnah, and while it’s not required, if you do otherwise, you’re missing out on the light of the prophetic sunnah.
It’s funny, because this time around, I had the same anxiety. Oh those newborn curls! Couldn’t I just keep them on her head forever? Well, I could, but it was all in the name of vanity and prissyness. So I write this post dedicated to all other women out there, who, like me, may have some anxiety over their little girls going bald. There is nothing to fear. The hair grows back…even, full, and quickly too! And the most beautiful thing about the child is that they are not vain–they are content as long as you show them love. They couldn’t care less if you shaved their head or not. I was blessed to know a brother who had shaved 100+ children’s heads. But you may not be so lucky. He shaved Noora’s head. This time around, we did it ourselves. Between the two, here’s what I witnessed in the hopes that you, new mommies out there, will keep the Prophetic tradition alive!
- Breastfeed baby before the shaving–it calms them down and gets them to sleep. Let him/her sleep in your arms (that way you can move his/her head around as needed for the shaving–and make sure you’re in clothes that you don’t mind getting messy! Check out your floor too–it’s much easier to mop up a mess than vacuum up one!)
- Have a bucket of warm water ready, some Aveeno or sensitive shaving cream, and a new good razor (we used a Mach 3 and didn’t get any cuts!)
- Cut the baby’s hair with scissors first if its long (this is the hair that you’ll want to save and put in that nice white envelope as in the book, or in our case, a ziplock bag–it’s nice and dry). Then proceed to shave it, right side to left. Take your time; it’s gonna take a while (it took us about an hour). Use the bucket between shavings to rinse the razor and replace the water when it gets too mucky to use.
- Give baby (and yourself) a bath and cuddle. Take a before and after pic if you take pictures. Baby wears bald very well!
So this is how we welcomed our second daughter to the world. She had her aqiqa, albeit divvied up on different days (she got her name on her first day, her hair shaved another, this feast on yet another), and likewise, we pray that that prophetic light surrounds her each and every day for all of her days. She’s another shining light from the Creator that we hope to nurture and guide to the good. Please welcome Miss Safiyya Yusaira to the world with us with your goodly thoughts and prayers!
P.S. We realize that not all who love us could physically be there for the feast, but we were genuinely surprised by the amount of people who came through–rain and all! We know that some friends could only be there in spirit :).