Last Ramadhan (2009) I decided we would have a more family-orientated Ramadhan… not that it hadn’t been before, but now that the kids are that bit older and they are more interested in learning I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend time focusing on Islamic Activities.
Someone suggested to me a great website that publishes Ramadhan activities every year and I thought that would be a great place to start.
One evening just before Ramadhan arrived, I sat down and plucked out all the activities that suited my kids age range and level of understanding. I made a list and a time-table and then I explained it all to the kids. But this project wasn’t part of the list. The idea came to me one of those nights when my baby daughter was keeping me awake and my brain was on overtime.
I’ve never done anything this creative before so it was good fun for me too.
The first thing I had to do was look up a recipe for papier mache paste:
- Put 5 cups of water into a pan to boil.
- Put half a cup of flour and a cup of cold water into a bowl and mix until there are no lumps.
- Pour the flour mixture into the boiled water.
- Boil gently for two to three minutes, stirring until the paste becomes thick.
- Leave for an hour to cool.
The paste turned out lump free and just as I remembered it back in my school days… so not bad for my first attempt. I cut up the newspaper into strips before hand to save some time.
The next thing we had to do was to make the structure of the masjid. We sellotaped together empty cereal boxes and cake boxes. We used the plastic bowl as a mold for the masjid’s dome. The kids were quick to point out that this was a great way of recycling, masha’Allah. Once the boxes were firmly taped together we made a start on the papier mache covering the entire thing in strips of paste coated paper.
The trick to making the papier mache dome easy to remove from the mold when it’s dried is to first put on a layer of newspaper that has been moistened with water only. When we had covered the whole bowl with wet newspaper, then we began to add layers of newspaper and paste. We added several layers and then we had to leave it to dry overnight before adding further layers. We did this over a period of three days to make sure the dome was thick and strong when we finally removed it from the mold.
We left the box structure to dry for a good 24 hours and we left the dome to dry for about 3 days to be sure that it wouldn’t tear when we removed it from the mold.
Next came the fun part – painting the structure. Before we started painting I suggested to the kids that they should think about their design and what colours they would like to use first. We also spent a few minutes ‘googling’ pictures of mosques just to get a few ideas.
So the kids got busy painting the first coat of paint. They had decided they wanted to painting the whole thing in a sand brown colour first, and then when that had dried they wanted to do the top half in a dark red colour.
We did one coat of sand brown in the morning and then the second coat in the afternoon and then left it overnight to dry and then we painted the top half in a dark red the next day which also needed two coats. I managed to salvage a cardboard tube from our recycling bin to use to make the minaret.
We left the masjid model to dry and moved onto the delicate task of removing the papier mache dome from the plastic mold. Alhamdulillah, it came off in one piece and was ready for painting.
I turned the frayed edges of the dome into the underside and then my son painted it with a golden coloured paint. It had several coats of paint to make sure the newspaper print didn’t show through. Then we started adding the finer details to the masjid including doors and windows.
As the model started to take shape and become more recognisable as a masjid we talked as we worked about masjids in general, learning about the structure of the masjid, what happens in the masjid, why the masjid usually has two entrances, the purpose of the minaret, dua’s (supplications) for entering and leaving the masjid and the general Islamic etiquettes surrounding the Masjid. Finally we decided on a name for the masjid -The Masha’Allah Masjid.
We made the minaret using a cardboard tube and some thin card to make the cone-shaped roof.
We used glitter glue and some card to put the finishing touches to the dome and more glitter glue to decorate the outline of the windows and doors.
Finally we used PVA glue and a few strips of sellotape to put the masjid together.