While preparing for the birth of our daughter, I take some time out to research on what are the regulations regarding the newborns.
Azan & Iqamah to baby's ear
Despite the widespread practice, some scholars actually regard the evidence to be weak. There are 3 hadiths in this area, one of them considered as weak by Al-Albani, the other 2 considered as fabricated.
The one that was considered weak only mentioned calling of the azan in the ear, without mentioning iqamah or which side of the ear it was called into. Islamonline.net took this stand.
It has been authentically related from the practice of sahabah with the prophet:
Abu Musa, may Allah be pleased with him, narrates: "A son was born to me, and I took him to the Prophet who named him Ibrahim, did Tahneek for him with a date, invoked Allah to bless him, then he returned him back to me.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)
Another hadith explained how the prophet did this. He took some dates, chewed on them, mixing them with his saliva, opened the baby mouth, and rubbed the chewed dates inside the baby's mouth. He also supplicated and invoked blessing for him. (Bukhari & Muslim)
As you can see, this should be done as soon as we have the oppurtunity. Probably best not to wait for the time of aqiqah. However, because it is recommended to get the 'alim to do tahnik, then some people delay it to the time when the person becomes available.
It refers to animals slaughtered as a sacrifice for a newborn child. 2 sheeps for a boy and one sheep for a girl (Abu Dawud - sahih by al-Albani). Whether it is obligatory or only recommended, scholars differs. Both have their valid arguments, but al-Jibaly in his book consider it to be waajib.
Few authentic hadith suggested that aqiqah can be performed on 7th day, 14th day or 21st day. Prophet himself performed aqiqah on himself after he was appointed as prophet (Recorded by at-Tahawi, sahih by al-Albani)
There is no specific hadith recommending what to do with the meat. Some scholars made analogy with udhiyah (eid sacrifice) - dividing into 3 parts, eating one part, feeding the 2nd and giving the rest as charity.
Feast is optional, falls under the category of encouragement of feeding others. The basic idea of aqiqah is sacrifice, not the feast itself. So, buying meat over the counter to do a feast is not part of aqiqah.
Shaving the head
Shaving the head of a newborn is done usually together with performing aqiqah (slaughtering), based on a hadith that mentioned both shaving & aqiqah in one sentence. The head should be shaved completely, and charity is to be given equal to its weight in silver (Recorded by AHmad - hasan by al-Albani).
1 gram of silver roughly equivalent to €15 (as of 31/5/2010)
Naming the newborn
It is the responsibility of the parents to name the newborn with a good name. What are good names? Islamically, the prophet said that the best and most beloved names to Allah are Abdullah & Abdul Rahman (Muslim)
Although it is recommended to name the child using prophetic name (including Muhammad), but we have to beware that there are fabricated hadith in this matter, such as the following:
Anyone who was granted three sons and did not name any of them Muhammad has indeed acted ignorantly (Recorded by Al-Tabarani - verified to be fabricated by al-Albani).
There are names which specifically should be avoided as mentioned in authentic hadith. The names like Aflah (successful), Nafi (useful), Rabah (winner), Yasar (facilitation), Barakah (blessing), Najih (successful), Ya'la (high). Ulama agree that the names mentioned are merely disliked but not fully prohibited, as the Prophet has a servant named Rabah, and he did not change it (Bukhari). The dislike might be due to the names constitute self praise or glorification. That is why certain people avoid this by naming their kids with the names of flowers (which has no self praise) like Orked, Naurah, Zainab etc. Wallahua'lam.
This has become a big issue since the ban of female genital mutilation, which without doubt happen in certain muslim countries. In the severest category, female genital mutilation involves removal of clitoris and labia minora, and stitching together labia majora, only leaving a small opening for urine and menstruation. The opening of the stitches often is a part of wedding night ritual. The mildest version of female circumcision is clitoridectomy, which is removal of all or part of the clitoris. Clitoridectomy was actually promoted in US & UK in 19th and 20th century as 'a cure for lesbian practices, masturbation, hysteria, epilepsy or nervousness.'
In Islam, to say that female circumcision has no basis at all is clearly not right. The prophet mentioned: When the two locations of circumcision meet, ghusl become obligatory (Muslim) and few other similar sahih hadith. This indicates that female circumcision was a known and acceptable practice during prophetic time.
However, prophet also added: When you trim, do it slightly and not excessively. This would bring beauty to the woman's face and please her husband (Recorded by al-Tabarani, sahih by al-Albani).
Without a doubt that circumcision in man is obligatory and is part of the fitrah. The prophet even commanded Kulayb al-Juhani to get circumcised when he embraced Islam (Abu Dawud - hasan by al-Albani).
Although it is not a common practice in the west, scientific studies to the highest order including a few randomized control trials showed that circumcision reduced the risk of HIV transmission and coital injuries (which might explain the reduce risk of HIV transmission) in male.
The CDC held a two-day consultation in 2007 to obtain input on potential role of male circumcision in preventing transmission of HIV, and they agree that there are sufficient evidence that people should be informed of this option.
Through my reading, most of the scholars regard the starting of nifaas when a woman has a show (blood) with contraction. Usually this happens near enough to the time of delivery. The maximum number of days for nifaas can be 40 days (most scholars) based on some hadith, but Imam Shafie considered nifaas can be up to 60 days. Ibn Taymiyyah considered there is no limit to nifaas. In medical term, nifaas is called lochia (as far as i know). There is no definite period, but usually it lasts between 2 to 6 weeks (42 days).
My wife raised some valid question (for me). Generally the post partum bleeding is equivalent to blood coming from the separation of placenta and uterus, the same as blood in menstruation - it is the shedding of tissue from the uterus. That is why, if a person still have bleeding because of episiotomy post delivery/ C-section, and not because of placenta bleeding, that she needs to pray and fast. When the mother has a 'show', the current medical understanding say that this blood is coming from the injury to the cervix, not from the placenta. If this is so, then does it mean that the obligation to pray is not lifted? I wish that there will be O&G specialist with the help of the scholars to update these questions, using the light from sunnah and our understanding of labour.
So, do tahneek, perform Aqiqah, shave the head and bless our kids with good names. May a good start increase the chance of a good end.