Author Ms. Seen Noon
Fasting (Roza or Saum) is one of the five basic pillars of Islam and it’s importance is deemed essential to be transferred to our children as well. We have an obligation towards the new generation, our future, to pass on to them knowledge about their religious roots and values. Introducing them to the basics should be initialized at a very young age.
Children are gifted with a very curious, inquisitive mind, and utilizing this excitement as fuel to inculcate new religious habits can prove to be a key for unlocking doors of Islamic learning.
Ramadan and the Role of Parents
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, in Surah Al-Furqan, Verse 74, about believers who seek children that bring coolness for their eyes, are a symbol of an ongoing charity (sadaqa e jariya), strive to obey the Almighty and are steadfast in faith:
˹They are˺ those who pray, “Our Lord! Bless us with ˹pious˺ spouses and offspring who will be the joy of our hearts, and make us models for the righteous.” (25:74)
Discipline is the core of any behavioral training, guiding the younger lot towards observing prayers few times a day, along with reciting the Holy Qur’an (even if it’s a single page a day), abstaining from foul language, immoral behavior, and other negative habits. A strong, positive intention is to be kept in our hearts to become a beacon of light for our kids, so their role in our society as binding materials for a welfare Islamic society could be fulfilled.
Following quotes are examples of when is the right age for young boys and girls to start fasting. No particular date is fixed by authority, but rather an idea for each individual child is made regarding his/her health, enabling him to fast:
- Al-Awzaa’i said: “If he is able to fast for three consecutive days without interruption and without becoming weak, then he should be made to fast Ramadan.
- Ishaaq said: When (a child) reaches the age of twelve I think he should be made to fast so that he gets used to it. The age of ten is more likely, because the Prophet ﷺ enjoined (light punishment) to children for not praying at this age, and as fasting is also an important pillar of Islam, so that age seems likely. But fasting is harder, so attention should be paid to when the child becomes able to physically handle it, because some who are able to pray may not be able to fast.” [Al-Mughni, 4/412]
Nowhere it is found that the believer parents felt a sign of mercy for their kids, delaying their sawm training, rather, they found ways to engage them with toys or played games with them on finding their young ones down with hunger in Ramadan. In fact, if a child is able to keep his fast, and can hold his hunger and thirst, then the roza training should begin without hesitation. For the Most Merciful, Allah the Almighty, helps those who are pious, humble, and strong in obeying the commands of their creator, so one should rely on Him alone in each and every step of our religious struggles.
- Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said: “If he is young and has not yet reached puberty, he is not obliged to fast, but if he is able to do it without hardship, then he should be told to do so. The Sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them) used to make their children fast, and if the younger ones cried, they would give them toys to distract them. But if it is proven that it is harmful to him, then he should be stopped from fasting. If Allah has forbidden us to give youngsters their wealth if there is the fear that they may abuse it, then it is more appropriate that they be stopped from doing something if there is the fear of physical harm. But that should not be done by force, because that is not appropriate in raising children. [Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 19/83]
Source for the above quoted: IqraSense.com
Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 133:
Or did you witness when death came to Jacob? He asked his children, “Who will you worship after my passing?” They replied, “We will ˹continue to˺ worship your God, the God of your forefathers—Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac—the One God. And to Him we ˹all˺ submit.” (2:133)
Just look at the height of fear of Allah and the concern of a prophet as a parent, that as death approached him, he was concerned more about the afterlife of his kids and the strength of the kids’ faith. Whereas, today, as parents, we are more concerned about the financial wellbeing and stability of our families, rather than their religious values.
Children – A Trial for Parents
Abu Buraida reported:
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ, peace and blessings be upon him, was delivering a sermon when Hasan and Husayn came wearing red shirts, walking and tripping. The Prophet ﷺ descended from the pulpit, picked them both up, and placed them in his lap. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah spoke the truth when they said: Verily, your wealth and your children are only a trial for you (64:15). I looked at these two boys walking and tripping and I could not be patient, even I cut short my speech to pick them up.” Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3774. Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani
Indeed, it is our duty as parents and believers, to be headstrong when comes a time to train our most valuable asset in life – our children. They are most definitely a form of trial for us in this world, and if we give it our best shot to train and guide them under the umbrella of Islam, then on the Day of Judgement Allah will be pleased with us.
Ramadan & Children’s Activities
Learning about Islam’s five basic pillars, Qur’an and Sunnah should be done in ways which are appealing to the younger lot while retaining their interest. Here are some ideas to make Ramadan exciting for them along with increasing their Islamic knowledge:
- A month before Ramadan (Sha’baan), start involving the kids in prepping for the rozas; like crafting Ramadan decorations with them, designing Ramadan Mubarak and Eid cards etc. This will make them involved in the spirit of sawm and they will also share with their friends becoming a source of dawah from a very young age.
- Sit down and plan your suhur and iftar meals with them, highlighting power-packed foods like dates, talbina, etc., while referencing the hadith about how our Prophet ﷺ and His companions spent their Ramadan days with very little food on their hands.
- Planning the Ramadan prayers is the most important part of all, showing videos on Ramadan facts, Prophet stories, Islamic history, can be a source of family bonding and also a source of learning for our kids.
- Sharing with the kids about the etiquettes of Ramadan; not eating publicly, refraining from pointing those who might not be fasting during Ramadan, skipping music / movies etc. during this month can hopefully be the foundation for them in becoming better Muslims.
I am sure you all can create a much better list of involving your kids in this Ramadan, educating them about the real meaning behind fasting and cherishing the blessings of Allah, the Almighty at all times. Slowly and gradually, creating an environment in your homes which revolves around fearing Allah, obeying His commands, learning the Qur’an, Hadith and also, most importantly, about the application of these learnings in our lives. Spending our days and nights on the footsteps of our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, while obeying Allah’s commands can lead us towards becoming better Muslims and winning Jannah for us and our beloved family members.
Wishing you all, a very blessed and barakah filled Ramadan 🙂