Fasting for the little stars of the Ummah: A step by step guide
Credit: Amna Anwaar | IslamicFinder
Just like adults, Allah (SWT) works His way into the hearts of children through the acts of prayer and righteous deeds. Growing up in a Muslim household, every child’s curiosity is piqued by the religious traditions followed by the elders in the household but is often unaware of the purpose of these rituals and their benefits. Hence, it is our responsibility as adults to guide them, teach them and help them implement those teachings in their daily lives from a young age. Children tend to respond and evolve on a spiritual level once they are presented with the opportunity to actively participate in these religious rituals like fasting in the holy month of Ramadan.
Almost every other household has young children who decide to venture into the land of bravery and fast for the very first time in their little lives. The children find themselves amidst feelings of excitement, anticipation, and confusion- hence, it is our job as adults to enrich their first experience of fasting and hold their hands through it, steer them in the right direction, and all the while shed light on the purpose and intentions behind the act so they may understand its significance and value.
So how does one keep the youngsters engaged, motivated and excited about fasting in Ramadan? Here are a few tips:
Create a Ramadan Action Plan with them
A fun way to keep the young first timers engaged and excited is to sit down with them and create an action plan before Ramadan starts. This action plan may comprise of the type of fun foods the little ones would like to eat for their Suhurs and Iftars, the small dua’s and surahs they can learn and recite in Ramadan along with corresponding columns of the rewards of their respective recitations, a list of friends they would want to invite to their house for an iftar party etc. This action plan gives them tasks and activities to look forward to and helps them imagine the upcoming events in their month of Ramadan keeping them up and running.
Make them participate in giving Sadqa
Children can also get a good taste of the essence of Islam and experience the goodness that comes with the month first-hand if you get them to engage in Sadqa (charity). Involve them in the giving process and let them help those in need themselves. Once they know how good it feels to help the poor and feed them, they will want to keep going back and helping more. You can also make a daily routine of feeding a certain number of people every day- it will motivate the children and give them a sense of active purpose and productivity this Ramadan. Charity giving eventually instills a sense of empathy and humanity in the child, steering them to continue giving charity in their lives.
Remind them about the joyous occasion of Eid that awaits them
Adults and children alike await the joyous and celebratory occasion of Eid every year. Upon the completion of the blessed Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. So start the preparations of Eid a little in advance and involve the little ones with you. Go shopping for their new clothes and shoes of their liking for the big day and help them put together their outfits- they will love it. Eid is all about exchanging celebratory greetings, gifts, and foods. If the young ones are having a hard day of fasting, remind them of what awaits them at the end of the month for all their hard work and how happy Allah (SWT) will be with them if they spearhead through it.
Give them a purpose
Like adults, children need to be given a sense of purpose. If they do not have a purpose, they will surely lose any semblance of motivation and excitement towards that particular task. Similarly, if you want your child to really dive into the essence of Ramadan, you need to make sure your child understands the significance of the actions being practiced by all Muslims in the month of Ramadan instead of having them go through the automated rituals of worship and righteous deeds. Otherwise, you will find yourself being confronted with questions like “Why are we doing this? It’s pointless” or “What good will this do?”. Hence, make it a point to discuss the importance of each act, such as the daily salah, fasting, giving charity, reciting the Quran etc. Make it easier and lighter hearted for them by telling stories about the Prophets and the Companions, which will help them relate better.
Give them responsibility
You will be surprised to know that children often take responsibility much more seriously than grownups. You can give them roles of leadership in the household so they feel empowered and useful. Assign them tasks like waking up their siblings for Suhur, reminding the household about the daily salah timings and getting everyone to say their prayers, let them plan the menu for the iftar a few times and give them daily tasks to perform in general. This will essentially keep them on their toes and help them remain active throughout the month.
All in all, be creative with your ideas and come up with refreshing and fun ways to keep your children motivated this Ramadan. Every adult should make sure that this Ramadan serves as an enjoyable, memorable and long-lasting experience for the little first-timers.