The Fiqh of a Newborn Baby

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
There are six rulings pertaining to a new born child:

1) Athan and Iqamah in the ear
2) Naming the baby
3) Tahnik
4) Shaving the hair on the head
5) Aqiqah
6) Circumcision

1) Athan and Iqamah in the ear

It is mustahab (preferable) to do the Athan in the right ear of a new-born baby and Iqamah in the left ear of the baby. There is no prescribed time for doing the Athan and Iqamah in the child’s ear. One should try and do the Athan and Iqamah in the baby’s ear as soon as possible. Most definitely, the words of Tawhid (oneness of Allah) being the first words ringing in the child’s ear will leave a lasting positive impression on the child.
One should face the Qiblah when performing the Athan in the child’s ear. One does not need to raise the voice when performing the Athan. The Athan should be called softly in the child’s ear. It is not necessary to put one’s fingers in one’s ear either.
One will still move the face right and left when saying Hayya ‘ala al-salah and Hayya ala al-Falah.

2) Naming the child

It is mustahab (preferable) to officially name the baby seven days after birth. ‘Allamah ‘Ayni rahimahullah is of the opinion that it is desirable to officially name the baby on the seventh day if Aqiqah is going to be performed. If the parents do not intend on performing Aqiqah on behalf of the child, then the baby should be officially named upon birth. However, it is permissible to officially name the child upon birth even if Aqiqah will be performed. The child should not be left unnamed after seven days.

In principle, it is permissible to keep any name as long as:
1) The name is not prohibited.
2) The name is not a common name used by the followers of another religion.
3) The name does not hold a negative meaning.
4) The name does not resemble the name used for the opposite gender.

Some names have been expressly disliked by the messenger of Allah salallahu alaihi wasallam. Other names are makruh (disliked) due to resemblance with the non-Muslims. The reason behind the resemblance is that names have become a shi?ar (outstanding feature). One’s religion is easily determined by the name one has. For example, if somebody reads a register or document with the following names Ali, Musa, Fatima and Khadijah, he will at once identify them as being Muslims. One’s Islam is identified merely by the name one has.
There is a craze to keep unusual and unheard of names. This practice should be shunned. It is better to keep a name which is commonly used in the Muslim Ummah. Names should originate from:

1) The Qur’an
2) The Ahadith
3) Names of Sahabah
4) Names of the pious predecessors
5) Good common names in the Ummah

3) Tahnik

It is sunnah to perform Tahnik. Tahnik should be performed as soon as possible after the child is born.
The method of Making Tahnik is by chewing a piece of date, making it soft into a paste and placing it on the palate of the new born child. Tahnik should be preferably done with dry dates. If dry dates are not available, then Tahnik should be done with fresh dates, otherwise, with honey or something sweet.
Ideally, the parent’s should take the child to the pious person who will make du’a for the child and perform the Tahnik. If this is not possible, a date should be taken to a pious person who will chew the date and make it into a paste. This can be preserved for until the child is born. Upon birth, the parents should place the date paste on the palate of the new born child.
Tahnik can be performed by anyone for the child. However, it is preferable and advisable that a pious person performs the Tahnik.

4) Shaving the baby’s hair

It is recommended that the hair of the baby is removed upon the seventh day of the birth. For example, if the child is born on a Thursday, then the hair would be removed the coming Wednesday.
It is further preferable to give the value gold or silver equivalent to the weight of the baby’s hair. For example, if the baby’s hair weighed 10 grams, the value of 10 grams of gold or 10 grams of silver should be dispensed in charity.

5) Aqiqah

Aqiqah is a virtuous act. It is not compulsory or necessary. If one was to leave Aqiqah on behalf of his new born, he will not be sinful. Aqiqah is a feast to express gratitude to Allah for the blessing the family with a child.
Aqiqah is performed by sacrificing one goat or one sheep for a baby girl, and two goats or two sheep for a baby boy. It is not necessary to sacrifice two goats or two sheep for the boy. If one cannot perform two, it is permissible to perform one sacrifice on behalf of the boy.
The preferred time for slaughtering the animal is the seventh day upon birth after the baby’s hair is removed. If this is not possible, then the fourteenth day, twenty first day etc. The method of calculating seven days is that whichever day the child is born, perform the Aqiqah one day before. For example, if the child is born on a Thursday, then the Aqiqah should be performed the coming Wednesday. The fourteenth day is the Wednesday after, so on and so forth.
It is recommended that one third of the Aqiqah meat is given to the needy. The remaining two thirds can be used in serving relatives, friends and guests. However, it is permissible to use all the meat for one’s relatives, friends and guests. The parents and other siblings can eat from the Aqiqah meat.

6) Circumcision

Circumcision is an emphasised sunnah for boys and a desirable practice for girls.
Circumcision should be performed upon the child whenever he is able to bear the pain. If pain is minimal due to the contemporary medical advances, it would be advisable to get the circumcision performed sooner than later.