Thursday, 11 August 2011

How can we help children to get used to fasting?


I have a son who is nine years old and I would like you to help me to learn how I can make my son get used to fasting Ramadan in sha Allaah, because he only fasted 15 days of Ramadan last year.

Praise be to Allaah.


We are very happy to see questions like this, which is
indicative of great care and concern for children and for raising them to
worship Allah. This is good care for those whom Allah has entrusted to the
parents' care. 


A boy of nine years of age is not one of those who are
accountable for fasting according to sharee’ah, because he has not yet
reached puberty. But Allah has enjoined parents to raise their children to
do acts of worship. Allah commands them to teach their children the prayer
when they are seven years old, and to smack them if they do not do it when
they are ten years old. The Sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them) used
to make their children fast when they were small so as to make them get used
to this great act of worship. All of that is indicative of great concern to
raise one's children with the best of attributes and deeds. 

With regard to prayer: 

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon
him) said: “ Teach your children to pray when they are seven years old and
smack them if they do not pray when they are ten years old, and separate
them in their beds.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (495) and classed as saheeh by
al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood. 

With regard to fasting: 

It was narrated that al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh ibn ‘Afra’
(may Allah be pleased with her) said: On the morning of ‘Ashoora’, the
Messenger of Allaah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) sent word to
the villages of the Ansaar around Madeenah, saying: “Whoever started the day
fasting, let him complete his fast, and whoever started the day not fasting,
let him complete the rest of the day (without food).”

After that, we used to fast on this day, and we would make
our children fast too, even the little ones in sha Allaah. We would make
them toys out of wool, and if one of them cried for food, we would give
(that toy) to him until it was time to break the fast.

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1960) and Muslim (1136). 

‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said to one who was
drunk during Ramadan: “Woe to you! Even our children are fasting!” And he
hit him. Narrated by al-Bukhaari in a mu’allaq report, Bab Sawm
al-Subyaan (Chapter on the fast of children). 

The age at which parents should start teaching their children
to fast is the age when they are able to fast, which varies according to the
physical constitution of each child, but some scholars have defined it as
the age of ten years. 

For more details on that please see the answer to question
number 65558, in which there
is important information. 


With regard to means of helping children to get used to
fasting, that may involve a number of things, such as: 

Telling them of the virtues of
fasting and that it is one of the most important means of entering Paradise,
and that in Paradise there is a gate called al-Rayyaan through which those
who fast will enter.

Prior experience of getting
used to fasting, such as fasting a few days in the month of Sha’ban, so that
fasting in Ramadan will not come as a shock to them.

Fasting part of the day and
increasing the time gradually.

Delaying sahoor until the last
part of the night. That will help them to fast during the day.

Encouraging them to fast by
giving them rewards each day or each week.

Praising them in front of the
family at the time of iftaar and sahoor, because that will raise their

Instilling a spirit of
competition for the one who has more than one child, whilst remembering that
it is essential not to rebuke the one who is struggling.

Distracting the one who gets
hungry by letting him sleep or play permissible games that do not involve
effort, as the noble Sahaabah used to do with their children. There are
suitable programmes for children and cartoons on the trustworthy Islamic
channels with which you can distract them.

It is preferable for the father
to take his son -- especially after ‘Asr -- to attend the prayer and
lessons, and to stay in the mosque to read Qur'aan and remember Allah.

Arranging visits during the day
and night to families whose young children are also fasting, so as to
encourage them to carry on fasting.

Rewarding them with permissible
trips after iftaar, or making the kinds of food, sweets, fruits and juices
that they want.  

It should be noted that if the child becomes too exhausted,
you should not insist that he completes the fast, so that this will not make
him hate acts of worship or lead to him lying or make him sick, because he
is not yet one of those who are accountable. It is important to pay
attention to this and not be harsh with regard to telling the child to fast. 

And Allah knows best.

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