Thursday 17 July 2014

Fasting During Ramadan for Older Children

My children are just coming to that age when fasting will soon become obligatory for them, particularly Little Lady. All three of the older ones are also in the age range (7-14) that I call the age of “tarbiyah” or correct upbringing when I feel that it is most important to start seriously establishing the habits that will be part of the rest of their life - such as salah (prayer), modesty in dress for both girls and boys and fasting during Ramadan.

Hubby and I both started fasting as children (from about age 7-8) and the days were fairly long then, but I remember being very keen to do it. With my own children, I have allowed them to keep a few each year during weekends when I can watch them and with the proviso that if they should start to feel too thirsty or unwell, they must have something to eat.

This year I have had an ongoing discussion with Little Lady who I worry about because she is a little low in Vitamin D. When I suggested that perhaps she shouldn't keep all of her fasts, she rounded on me with “Well if you don’t let me, then YOU will have to answer for that on the Day of Judgement”. Sounds like I got told.

This year their school sent letters home saying that no children would be allowed to fast due to the long day (just over 17 hours) and hot weather as this would mean they are not sleeping enough and would not be able to concentrate on their learning. The head-teacher had consulted with a local imam (not sure who) who agreed that primary school children do not need to fast. Quite a few of the girls in Year 6 have reached puberty meaning that it becomes a duty for then to fast (unless it would impact their healthy adversely to do so).  I think maybe this imam might have been a bit na├»ve about how quickly young girls are reaching puberty in this generation.

Some of the mum’s tried to reason with the head-teacher, so that the older children (10 and 11 year old's) could fast, but she was not willing to move from her position on the matter. Some of the kids are still insisting on fasting, even taking their packed lunch to school as required and bringing it back uneaten. Some of the mothers have gotten us to sign a petition to make the head-teacher reconsider.

I haven’t really had to deal with this issue properly yet because Little Lady has been taking medication and we will need to ensure she stays hydrated. But I did discuss with her doctor and he advised that it was fine for her to fast once her treatment was completed as long as we managed her nutrition properly during the time she wasn't fasting. He particularly recommended dates as a good source of nutrition and reminded us that she would still have to try and fit in eight glasses of water a day.

So I have said that the children can fast at the weekend and they have done so over two weekends with me asking every little while how they are feeling. I have spent lots of time trying to stop them playing football, running around and getting hot and wrestling and asking them to rest and sleep – so far all of the physical activity seems to have no effect, in particular Little Man who is a big foodie and could eat for a living and is forever hungry, keeps saying he is fine and doesn't even feel hungry.

I have also made clear that there is no point in fasting if they do not pray their salat (five daily prayers). Little Lady prays all five prayers now (albeit still needs reminders), but the boys will try and make excuses, so this has been a useful way to encourage them in the intervening days between fasts.

The big question now is how to get them out of bed and get them to eat and drink enough at 2am to get them through the day. At the moment I am bribing them with mango juice if they eat enough, but this weekend I fell asleep as they ate and woke up suddenly near the end of fajr (dawn prayer) time to find they had left their mostly uneaten food and were all asleep back in bed.


  1. Very inspirational post! I agree 100% with you about girls starting puberty at a young age and it is a duty. I am 15 and the school I go to allows us to fast however, we cant use it as an excuse, we have to do PE too and that can be very hard, what would you say about that?

    I would say I am a small person and I already eat very little and I am a weak person so I still havent started keeping all my fasts myself which I am very ashamed about and seeing that the fasts are loong I get very sick. I just hope allah s.w.t makes it easier for me :)


  2. Anonymous19 July, 2014

    As salamu alaykoum dear sister
    This kind of judgemental people is a main reason for me to avoid our masjed as much as possible.I hate it if they try to educate me and to tell me how i should is not their business .they are not Allah.These kind of things are between me and my Creator.And I know exactly that HE (S.W.T) is merciful and understanding.Al hamdulillah.I had a very hard time this Ramadan and I nearly lost my faith but al hamdulillah I was guided by our Rabb Allah.I give you the sincere advise to close your ears when it comes to matters which you are as an adult person able to decide for yourself.Ramadan Mubarak.

  3. Umm Shareef20 July, 2014

    Assalamu aleykum my dear sis,
    Lovely and interesting post. I do agree that encouraging our kids to fast if they do not complete their 5 x salah is missing the point. Salah must be the highest priority and fasting should follow when the salah is established. I do find the head teacher's attitude disappointing - it really makes me sad when the disbelievers lecture us like this. I would be tempted to tell her that we are very happy to follow the Qu'ran and Sunnah thanks very much. In sha Allah the petition made her re-think.I hope your kids fasts go well in sha Allah. One thing that would say is that if the kids commit to completing a fast they should only be allowed to break it in exceptional circumstances, i.e. if they are not well or dehydrating. To give up when the going gets tough is not a good habit to let them get into - they really need to understand the meaning of obligatory, even though they have not yet reached the age when it applies.

  4. Anonymous21 July, 2014

    salaam alaikum sister HappyMuslimah I believe I've been reading many of your blog entries for several months now and have to say I enjoy reading your blog mashaAllah :) have you considered posting some random sayings/Ahadith of the beloved Messenger Muhammad sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam and sharing some of your Islamic knowledge? :)

  5. Anonymous21 July, 2014
    are you on facebook sister? Ramadan Mubarak and advanced Eid Mubarak from the Philippines wasalam :)