Our Hamster Julie Died.
She was a good little Hamster and we had lots of fun with her. But suddenly she stopped eating and then died. I could have easily got rid of the body before the kids found out but as I home school and know every chance to teach an important lesson is a chance to take. I waited for the best time to approach the subject. I've talked to my 4 year old daughter many times about death and about what happens to us in the Afterlife but this was the first real time she's had to deal with something close to her dying. This was the perfect time to teach her about Islamic Burials. Sure we don't have to bury animals as we bury people and pray on them or such but I felt this was a small way for her to understand it if she needs to deal with it in the unknown future.
I took her hand and told her calmly that I'm sorry but Julie has died. I showed her immediately the dead body and she could see she wasn't moving. Confusion and Disbelief struck her face as she went to the cage to check to make sure I wasn't lying. She came back to me looking sad. "Yes, Julie's gone" I told her again. "But we are going to do something for her because she was a such a good Muslim Hamster." I took a toy shovel, three tissues, and the body and took them to our garden. In a small area I had her kneel next to me.
"When people die we put their bodies in the ground to protect them. We don't burn them or throw them away. We respect them because Allah created them. So let's dig a hole for her." I said and I began digging and then let my daughter take over the digging until it was deep enough. (I didn't get technical about the depth). Our cat Summer followed us and tried to help dig (or get the body, not really sure there). Finally I took the body out of her food dish where she died and rolled it onto the tissue.
"We wrap the body in cloth but Julie is small we'll use tissues." So I rolled the edges carefully then once the body was covered I let her continue to roll it in the three tissues. We twisted the ends as I've seen done before. Then we both placed her in the hole. As we pushed the dirt in we recited Qur'an: Al Fatiha. Once the hole was covered I found a small stick and placed it upright as a grave marker. Later I had to add a marble slab (random piece of marble) because Summer tried to dig it up.... We laughed this was probably the only Hamster in the world with a Marble Headstone. We went inside and I warned my Husband that she might be a little death obsessed for a week after learning so much. Indeed she was. Not a few minutes later she was carefully trying to wrap her dollies in tissues. I told her they were bigger and gave her a full sized plain white hijab to use. I left her to play "Burial" by herself. Soon though she came to me wanting help. So I used this chance to explain more that for people we pray a special prayer for them saying AllahuAkbar four times standing without bowing. We wash and wrap them and carry them saying du'a and Qur'an for them. Then bury them facing the Kabaa. She liked doing this procession so many times. So I left her to it after a while but then later she came up to me, "Mommy, come, we need to bury the little girls." Yes it was a little creepy to hear. "Dollies, honey, say bury the dollies." I gently corrected. "Yes, let's go bury the dollies" She said solemnly. So I played along. I went and saw three dollies laying on the carpet and cried "Oh what happened to them!"
"They died." Daughter said sadly. So we commenced the Burial Rites. After the three were in their grave and we planted palm leaves over them to give them more blessings in the grave I told her gently, "Honey, that is enough of burring dollies okay. You know Allah doesn't just take people, He also lets them be born too!" I shoved the three buried dollies in their shroud up my shirt and pretended to be pregnant again. Daughter swooped in to quickly deliver them as they were born. "See now they are alive. They will grow old and then die. Then one day far from now Allah will bring them back to life, because it's Easy for Allah. Now go feed the dollies and take care of them." I said and left her to play with her dolls. She hasn't buried anything since. A lesson well learned.
PS: I've updated my re-comments all the way back to Shalom, sorry sorry sorry I wasn't able to comment earlier. I'm trying to keep up with everything. So if you commetned a while back you can re-check.