What Gift Should I Take to an Aqiqa Party?
We are a non-Muslim family. We were invited to an Akika party by some Muslim friends. Is it customary to bring a gift for the new babies? (They are twins). For the mother? For the family? No one?
You are obviously a considerate person who respects other people's cultures and wants to be sensitive to their traditions. That's a wonderful quality.
For those who don't know, an Aqiqa is a celebration of the birth of a new baby.. Before I answer your question, let me give some background on the various Islamic traditions for a newborn child.
Traditions for a Newborn Baby:
- The first thing done for a newborn baby is to call the Athaan (call to come to prayer) in his/her right ear, and the Iqama (call to stand for prayer) so that the first words he hears in this life are the words of Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah) and the call to prayer and success.
- The next thing is the Tahneek, which means that the father chews a small piece of date and puts it in the baby's mouth to taste.
- Sometime before the end of the first week, the newborn baby's hair should be shaved, and his head anointed with saffron. In the pre-Islamic days of ignorance the people would slaughter an animal and smear the blood on the baby's forehead. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) eliminated this practice and told the people to use saffron instead.
- The hair that is shaved should be weighed (or just make an estimate of the weight) and the weight in gold or silver (depending on the parents' wealth) given in charity to the poor.
- Aqiqa, slaughter of a sheep or goat, circumcision.
Traditions for the Aqiqa:
The Aqiqa is a recommended Sunnah and should ideally be held on the seventh day after birth, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "Aqiqah should be performed on the seventh day or on the fourteenth day or on twenty-first day after the birth of a child". [al-Baihaqi]
It was reported that 'Aa'ishah said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did 'aqeeqah for al-Hasan and al-Husayn on the seventh day, and gave them their names. (Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan, 12/127; al-Haakim, 4/264. Classed as saheeh by al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Baari, 9/589).
The parents should slaughter one sheep or goat and eat some of the meat, and distribute the rest to the poor. If they cannot afford a sheep then even a chicken would suffice.
A baby boy should also be circumcised at this time. For girls there is no circumcision. What is referred to as "female circumcision" in some parts of the world is really just mutilation and is forbidden in Islam.
Bringing a Gift to the Aqiqa?
In Islamic tradition an Aqiqa does not require that guests should bring gifts; however people nowadays tend to follow modern customs so I suggest you bring a card and a gift for the baby, as you would at a baby shower, for example.
Aside from that, enjoy yourself and relax. No one will judge you for not being aware of Islamic traditions or for not being Muslim. You may already know this since you have Muslim friends, but you will (Insha'Allah - God willing) find Muslims to be gracious hosts.
I suggest dressing modestly as well. That doesn't mean you need to cover yourself like a Muslim woman, but the kind of tight, form-fitting dresses sometimes seen at non-Muslim functions would not be appropriate at a Muslim event.
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