Jan - Mar 2010, Other

My Daughter’s Aqiqah

By Shinoa Matos

Bismillah irRahamnir Raheem

The day of Sumaeyah’s Aqiqah had arrived, after having postponed it for two months. My husband Julio and I intended to do it on the 7th day after her birth in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet but because of my Cesarean, I was not up to making all the arrangements so soon. After we both fully recovered-me from my surgery and Sumaeyah from a respiratory infection-everything seemed to be well enough to call the imam and set up the ceremony.

I met Imam Muhammad Shamsi Ali at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York where I first started attending his classes on Islam. I recall being drawn to his amiable personality and his affection for converts. Always sympathetic to the difficulties we reverts face, he did his best to transition us into Muslim life as easily as possible. He’s an outstanding leader and it was only fitting that he should perform my daughter’s Aqiqah, introducing her to the Muslim community as well as to our non-Muslim family and friends.

The ceremony was held at Masjid Al-Hikmah in Queens, where Imam Shamsi also holds classes and is an Imam. There the Indonesian sisters were gracious enough to set up the hall downstairs from the musallah with chairs and tables, as well as cook the lamb we had slaughtered. I arranged for catering from the Moroccan Sandwich Shop in Astoria-quite famous for its tasty food. Chicken, Spanish-style rice and frittatas along with the lamb and a luscious chocolate cake greeted our guests. And my friend Jessenia was nice enough to decorate the hall with balloons to make everything look more festive.

A few days before the Aqiqah, Julio took the hair we had shaven off of Sumaeyah’s head on the 7th day after her birth to the jewelry store to have it weighed against silver-the amount determined given away in charity. She was born with a surprisingly full head of hair and I immediately considered it a blessing, just like the rain on the day of the ceremony and her birth on a Friday.

I dressed the baby in a beautiful brown dress with vividly colored flowers that my aunt Nixa bought her as a gift. Pink headband and bow to decorate her hair that had incredibly grown back so quickly and brown shoes to finish off the outfit. Everyone passed her around from hand to hand and if it weren’t for the fact that I had to greet everyone, I would not have known what to do. It was the first time she had been out of my arms for such a long period of time.

As soon as everyone arrived, Imam Shamsi gathered everyone around me, Julio, and the baby to begin. He did a a wonderful job of demystifying the Aqiqah for my non-Muslim family-clearly explaining the Sunnah, its obligation and its beauty-that I saw them smile and sincerely nod their heads in affirmation to everything he was referring too. Insha’allah may Allah guide them to Islam.

The ceremony ended with a prayer and looking around so many people making duah for Sumaeyah, I was overcome by the thought of the road that lay ahead of us. We were performing her Aqiqah, not a birthday. She would be celebrating Ramadhaan, not Christmas. Insha’allah, she’ll be wearing a Hijab, not the short skirt or tank top.

Julio and I have been entrusted by Allah to raise a righteous Muslimah, the first generation Muslim to be born within the Ortiz-Padilla family. It was both frightening and humbling. We stood at the very same point that the Prophet and his Companions faced in the beginning of the revelation. They too had just come to Islam; they too were Muslims in the mist of non-Muslim family and friends-facing ridicule, loneliness, and feelings of outcast. They too were creating new families and bringing forth Muslims into the world. There intentions were clear.

What about our intentions for having Sumaeyah? Yes, she is playful and cute and we teach her the alphabet and how to say “hello”, but her purpose in this world is to worship none but Allah-to live and die in a state of Islam. That is why we were there performing her Aqiqah, why we shaved her head on the 7th day as instructed by the Prophet, and why my husband recited the Azthan and Iqamah in her ears upon her birth-all for our Lord’s pleasure.

May he be pleased with our efforts, may he bless Sumaeyah with the best of Iman’s, making her of the righteous Muslims to walk this earth, accepting her efforts, bestowing her with good deeds and overlooking her sins. May he be pleased with her all her life, insha’allah. Amin!