In Islam the children who have not yet reached puberty are not required or commanded to observe the fasting of the month of Ramadan, however it is a good practice on the parent’s part if they can get them to observe a few days of fasting so that they become prepared mentally about this form of worship. This was in fact the practice of the first Muslims in the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Ar-Rubayya’ bint Mu’awiyyahreported, “The Messenger of Allah Prophet Muhammad (SAW), sent a man on the morning of the day of Ashurah, to the residences of the Ansar, saying, ‘Whoever has spent the morning fasting is to complete his fast. Whoever has not spent this morning fasting should voluntary fast for the remainder of the day.’ We fasted after that announcement, as did our young children. We would go to the mosque and make toys stuffed with cotton for them to play with. If one of them started crying due to hunger, we would give them a toy to play with until it was time to eat.”
[Bukhari and Muslim.]
Teaching Islam from an Early Age
It is often said that the lessons learned in the early years of life stay with a person forever and this is a fact actually. So it is best to teach children about the religion of Islam and the love of Allah (SWT) from an early age. With regards to Ramadan there are a number of ways a child can be brought up with the understanding of this holy practice. One of the best methods to teach children about Ramadan is to set a good example for them through proper fasting and behaving according to the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Children tend to follow their parents and if the parents instil good traditions and practices in them from an early age than it is more probable that child will grow up to be a good person. Here are some ways to educate children on Islamic traditions:
1. If a child is old enough to handle fasting even though he is not required to according to the Islamic law, it is best to encourage him or her to observe some of the fasts of Ramadan. It is also a good practice to praise children who are young and fast in front of others and encourage those who are younger and unable to do so currently.
2. Start teaching the Quran to children from an early age. The best method is to learn yourself and teach your children. The other method is to have them taught by a scholar. For those that are unable to teach their children themselves and do not have access to scholars or institutes, can have their children learn Quran online through online Quran classes for kids. People who learn Quran online find that it is the best alternative compared to attending a mosque or Islamic center and there are millions of people around the world today that have their children enrolled in online Quran classes for kids at online Quran school or academies.
3. The father of the child should fulfill his duty towards his children by taking them to mosques during the Fajr and Maghreb prayers so that the child can understand the great unity of the Muslim community.
4. For the children who are unable to fast due to age, when they eat with you at the breaking of the fast, tell them that they are breaking their fast with their parents as to encourage them and make them feel good.
5. Teach your children to give to the poor and feed the hungry and inform them of the rewards that Allah (SWT) has promised for such deeds.
6. Reward them for their good behavior and correct them for their misbehaviors.
7. Most importantly, if parents wish their children to grow up to be good Muslims, it is best to teach them first about the love of Allah (SWT) and the rights of others.