The Islamic Birth Ceremony

The first words newborn Muslims hear are the call to prayer.
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According to the Sunnah, or the accounts of the Prophet Muhammad's life, the Prophet is reported to have said that all children are born Muslim, they are later converted to other religions by their parents, for this reason there are relatively few rituals required by Islamic teaching at the birth of a child. Because a child is born Muslim, there is no rite to initiate a new member to the faith. Most of the rites performed are recommended as opposed to required.

1 Baby's Firsts

The first words a new born baby should hear, according to Islamic tradition, are the call to prayer, “God is great, there is no God but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Come to prayer.” Fathers whisper these words into their babies' right ear. The first thing a newborn child tastes should be something sweet, often this is a mashed date or date juice.

2 Naming

A name is chosen for a newborn baby by its seventh day of life. The name chosen should be meaningful. Often parents choose to name their children after pious member of the Islamic community, like Muhammad or Aisha, wife of the Prophet, or after admirable qualities, like Karim, meaning “kind,” or Jamilah, meaning “beautiful.”

3 Seventh Day Observances

A number of rites are performed on the seventh day of a child's life. Muslim parents often shave their baby's head on this day. The hair is then weighed and an equal weight in silver is given to charity. The aqiqah celebration is also observed on the seventh day. This typically involves the slaughter of an animal, one for the birth of a daughter and two for a son, with the animal's meat distributed among family and neighbors, or given to the poor.

4 Circumcision

All Muslims males are to be circumcised, according to Islamic law, however when a Muslim male is to be circumcised varies widely depending on culture. Some Muslims believe new-born boys should be circumcised on the seventh day. In Europe and North American, Muslim babies are circumcised after birth before leaving the hospital. Traditional societies in the Middle East perform circumcision as a separate ritual between the ages two and twelve.

Amy Sachman holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Florida and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas. She has traveled extensively in North Africa and South Asia.