How Saudi parents help their children fast during Ramadan

Tue, 2020-05-05 00:51

JEDDAH: As one of the five Islamic pillars, fasting is an
important part of most Saudi and Muslim homes. Young children pick
up the religious act by parents leading by example, establishing it
as a habit instead of an enforced household regime.

Muslims start fasting once they hit puberty, which does not
detail a certain age, as it is different per individual. As such,
there is no specific age where parents can dictate their children
to start fasting.

“Growing up, it’s known that children mimic their parents
and those around them; they mimic speech, actions, food habits and
fasting is another thing they pick up on when they see their
parents, and later on classmates and teachers fasting,” Amal
Turkistani, a mother of five, told Arab News.

Children want social acceptance from an early age, they seek
praise and want to impress adults around them, Turkustani added.
“They want to be treated as adults. These actions say: ‘I’m
not a child, I can fast just like you guys can’.”

Turkistani has four daughters and one son. She said that she did
not necessarily have to teach or order them to fast, they just
asked questions and announced when they were ready to start.

BACKGROUND

Muslims start fasting once they reach puberty, which
does not detail a certain age, as it is different per individual.
As such, there is no specific age where parents can dictate their
children to start fasting.

“From there, you gradually ease them into it. My son, who is
12, is very stubborn — when he was around 6, he said he wanted to
fast and I told him he could try it out. We went on a one-hour per
day period, then a few hours, then half a day, then gradually a
full day as the years went by,” Turkistani said.

Muslims only have to fast during Ramadan, it is the easiest
Islamic offering to children, she said, because the commitment
period is very short. Turkistani noticed that pattern in all of her
children. They found it easier to fast a single month than to pray
five times a day year-round.

Hanadi Al-Maghrabi, a 42-year-old mother from Jeddah, tried a
similar method with her 8-year-old daughter. “I don’t want to
force it upon her so I leave it up to her, but when she came and
asked me about fasting and how it works, I proposed she tried
fasting on weekends so she wouldn’t exert herself,” she
said.

Growing up, it’s known that children mimic their
parents and those around them; they mimic speech, actions, food
habits and fasting is another thing they pick up on when they see
their parents, and later on classmates and teachers
fasting.

Amal Turkistani

Layal Hassan, a mother of twins, said a system of intermittent
fasting worked for her sons.

“My boys started gradually, and what really helped was having
them fast every alternate day. Starting out, parents need to be
lenient and not guilt-trip their kids into it,” said Hassan,
noting that a harsh approach would make children flinch away from
religious practice.

Ramadan is followed by Eid Al-Fitr to celebrate the end of the
fasting month, and in that respect, many children associate the
festivities as a rewarding system for persevering through the
month.

My boys started gradually, and what really helped was
having them fast every alternate day.

Layal Hassan

“Every Eid, children get money allowance (known as Eidiya) for
the completion of Ramadan from members of the family, sometimes
even extended family. To them, it’s a reward for fasting,” said
Turkistani.

Children can easily be motivated throughout the day as well,
with smaller reward systems during the holy month. Al-Maghrabi
would leave some candy for her daughter after every iftar.

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How Saudi parents help their children fast during
Ramadan