I found God in Ramzan. My spiritual awakening occurred in a state of fast as a child. I begged my parents to let me try it before I was required to. It was a rite of passage and I eagerly looked forward to the day I could be a part of this honourable experience. I was allowed to keep a half-day fast when I was 8-years-old and finally my first full-day fast when I was 9-years-old. I felt so accomplished. My parents had a party for me called a Roza Khushai. But it wasn’t until I was 12-years-old that I started keeping my fasts regularly. It was then I learned self-discipline. I had the power to quell temptation of food and water. Once I had control of my basic physical desires I was able to look and think beyond myself. After having Sehri and saying the dawn prayers, signalling the start of the fast, I would lay down for a nap and my mind would quieten. This is when I felt His presence and fell asleep with a serenity I cannot explain. The dreams I would have during this short sleep before going to school, unlocked my potential. I would have the most creative bursts of energy and my mind would be buzzing with solutions and possibilities. I saw beauty in everything and I did not want the feeling to go away ever.
During this month of Ramzan I let my 7-year-old daughter fast for half the day over the weekend. She had been asking me before the month started, eager to participate in something she identifies with as being Muslim. Thinking back to my wonderful memories of keeping Roza, I agreed to let her fast for a maximum of 8 hours (I figured she was ready for it as her school lunch often comes back uneaten!)
She woke up with me at 3 am to prepare our morning meal and we ate and had a philosophical discussion on the purpose of life. My daughter was bright-eyed and beyond excited to be going on this fasting journey with me. Just before dawn we closed our fast with water and prayed. It was a weekend and my daughter didn’t want to sleep away her energy, so she read for a while until the rest of the house awoke and the kids resumed their play. It wasn’t until just before noon when I felt her energy level drop and she accepted it was time to break the fast. She was elated with herself. I couldn’t help but feel proud.
Fasting during the month of Ramzan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Once you reach the age of puberty, fasting becomes obligatory. There are exceptions for the young, elderly, sick, pregnant or if menstruating.
Despite this you may have observed some young children attempting the full-day fast. While I cannot comment on the personal decisions of others, I will share with you my thoughts. If you expect your children to fast, take into consideration their maturity, health and ability to communicate. Monitor them closely throughout the day. Make sure their Sehri and Iftar are nutritious and are hydrated appropriately during those times. They should be able to break the fast at any time and you should also be able to make the call for them. You know your child best. Children are remarkably resilient but the ability to fast will vary. Don’t pressure them. Let them observe the beauty of the fast through you and they will come on board when they are ready.
I have the utmost faith in the Almighty, that He has our back and would not ask of us what we cannot do and even so, He has made provisions to allow us ease. I feel blessed to have a strong spiritual connection with God. This is what has helped me find clarity and logic where religious rules and preaching has failed. Ramzan was my catalyst in discovering my spiritual strength and I have to thank my parents for nurturing that. Maybe my children will discover their spiritual connection another way. All I can do is provide them with a loving environment and hope they too find comfort in faith.
Editors note: We are so moved by the writers eloquence, what do you think? Would you let kids fast in Ramadan? If so here are some great tips from a nutritionist.