Every year I have big plans for a Ramadan calendar but where I always start strong, by mid Ramadan I’m falling apart trying to keep those things filled with meaningful things for each child! Sound familiar?
This year I had a special idea that I’d love to share with you. It’s easy and elegant and beautiful. It’s non-toxic and sensory and eco friendly. What is it? It is a bead a day, for each day of Ramadan and three extra ones on Eid!
That’s thirty- beads stacked together one day at a time – and just like that – the humble bead is elevated to an instrument of joy, light and reflection: A tasbih! The beads are oversized and child friendly, we are not talking small choking hazard or delicate stones and pearls.
The premise truly is simple: take one bead for each day of Ramadan and have your child add it to a string stacking the beads as the days go by, adding to what will be, by the end of Ramadan – their own personal handmade tasbih. They can use themselves or give to a loved one as a treasured gift.
To add a layer of meaning and intention to this mini adventure of ‘making your own tasbih‘ I have shared a simple step by step below to make the beads from ‘play clay’ with your child using items found in your kitchen cupboard. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you do so –
~ While forming this ‘clay’ with your child, talk about how Allah fashioned us with His Hands lovingly and with intention for a higher purpose.
~ As you form each bead, whisper a small ‘Bismillah’ for each one, imagining how special each bead feels knowing it is being created for a higher purpose.
~ If you choose to use real clay to make these beads, as our friend Ashley May shares in her book Thirty Sunsets And A Moon, be sure to pull out this previous lesson from our archives, where together, you will be able to reflect on the diversity of soil colors and how they relate to the story of prophet Adam.
~ As you roll each bead, don’t focus too much on the exact size or dimension, but talk with your child about how each bead is different and has its own small imperfections and that each bead is imprinted with the warmth and energy of the hand it is in.
~ As you let them dry overnight and find the soft malleable balls transformed into hard spheres so satisfying to roll in your hands – reflect on the names of Allah – the Turner of Hearts who can make the hardest of hearts soft again.
If you love the idea but don’t have the time right now to make these from scratch, you can still use the idea of building a tasbih with your child by using other natural materials such as woolen felt balls or wooden beads. My friend Leila includes a wooden ready to assemble tasbih set as part of her small business Muslim Busy Box. The beauty of these materials is not only are they biodegradable but they can both hold a perfume very well, so don’t forget to add a touch of fragrance to these natural child friendly tasbih!
This year we are being intentional about trying to have a ‘Renewable Ramadan’. Pushing ourselves to make choices that are green and which leave a low carbon footprint and letting go of what can seem like a lot of ‘noise’ around the latest Ramadan or Eid trends. Follow us on instagram as we begin to share other ways in which to decorate both our homes and our hearts with the hashtag #RenewableRamadan
Homemade 'Clay' Beads For A Ramadan Tasbih
- 2 Cups Salt
- 2/3 Cup Water
- 1 Cup Cornstarch
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 3 Drops Coconut essence or any other essential oil of your choice
- Tooth pick or similar instrument for piercing hole
- String, twine, ribbon or strong thread
- Stir salt and water in a saucepan over heat 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat; add cornstarch and cold water.
- Stir until smooth; return to heat and cook until thick.
- Allow the clay to cool and add a few drops of coconut essence or any other essential oil of your choice
- Roll into a long rod and using a knife score along and divide the rod into 33 pieces, there will be enough for extra so roll and shape as many 'oversize' beads as you desire.
- Use a toothpick or similar shape to pierce a hole through the bead and leave aside to dry
- Air dry (overnight or over two nights depending on size of beads) or put in oven at 200F for two hours. Store unused clay in a clear plastic bag.
- Once dry, put aside one bead for each day of Ramadan and on each day take a moment to sit with your child and let them decorate the bead with paint, markers, and so on. If you like, finish with clear acrylic spray or clear nail polish. Start your tasbih by stringing the bead on some strong thread or ribbon, and add one bead everyday. By the end of Ramadan you will have enough beads, individually decorated to have made a tasbih.
Modeling clay recipe inspired by FamilyEducation
You might also like A Simple Ramadan Craft You’ll Want To Keep Up All Year, another beautiful, eco friendly ‘make’ with a child that costs little or nothing.