The arrival of a new baby is a matter of great joy for any family. For the Muslims, this occasion is described as "glad tidings from Allah" in the Quran. Hence Muslims welcome the new baby in an 'ehsan' way'. This means that the birth of a baby is celebrated in a way that is prescribed by the dictates of Shariah and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah upon him).
• Prayer for the new born baby:
The birth of a baby is a reason to celebrate, to rejoice and to thank Allah for His Blessings. To congratulate Muslim parents upon the birth of the baby, it is mustahib (preferred act) to say:
"You have been blessed in what you have been given. May you give thanks to the One who granted it. May your child reach maturity and right-guidance, and may Allah make him/her a blessing for you."
• Welcoming the baby:
It is forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) to show disappointment over the sex of the baby. In pre-Islamic era, the birth of a daughter was greeted with laments of woe and sorrow. Sons were much preferred and pre Islamic Arab fathers used to bury their infant daughters in sand. This practice has not changed much in some cultures but as Muslims we should know that sons and daughters both are blessings from Allah.
The act of ingratitude and harboring evil thoughts for the innocent baby has been declared a sin in the Quran. The preferred act is to inquire after the baby's health and general well being and then thank Allah in these words
"All praise and thanks for Allah, Lord of all creation". (Bukhari)
• Adhan in the ear:
After the baby is cleaned and dressed, a male adult usually the father or a grandfather recites adhan ( call for prayer) in the right ear and iqamah (announcement for starting the prayer) in the left ear. Hence, the first sound that reaches the ears of the newborn is the call to Allah and the testimony that Allah is Great. The sound of the adhan also keeps the small baby safe from evils by driving Satan away.
It is in the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to offer the Tahneek to the baby. For "tahneek" a date or a sweet thing like honey is softened and placed in the newborn's mouth. This act is followed by supplication to Allah to bless the baby.
• Naming the baby:
Many parents decide the name of the baby before the birth if they have ascertained the baby' sex beforehand. Some parents keep two names in mind, one for the male and the other for the female offspring. It is permissible to name the baby right after his birth or wait for seven days. The name must have a good meaning. It is customary amongst the Muslims to name their baby after the attributes of Allah, His prophets who came before Prophet Muhammad, the names of Prophet Muhammad, his noble companions and other pious personalities. The baby should not be named after those who defied Allah and His Messengers.
• Aqeeqah and Circumcision:
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "For the boy there should be an 'aqeeqah. Slaughter (an animal) for him and remove the harmful thing [i.e., the foreskin] from him."
Circumcision is also mandatory in case of a boy and should be done as soon as possible.
The new born baby's head is also shaved and an amount of silver equal to the weight of his hair is given to the poor.
For the "aqeeqah", Muslims sacrifice two sheep for a son and a single sheep for a daughter. The meat can be distributed amongst family members or the same can be cooked and everybody invited to a feast to celebrate this event. Gifts and money are usually given by friends and family members to the proud and happy parents on this happy occasion.