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Why Do We Fast During Ramadan?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

May 16, 2019

Question

Assalaamu AlaikumHow do I explain to my 11 year old daughter "Why we have to fast in the month of Ramadhaan?"Shukr

Consultant

Answer


Ramadan

Short Answer: During the month of Ramadan, the goal is to attain taqwa and to draw our hearts nearer to Allah. When we fast with sincere intention, He forgives us for our sins. My best advice is to explain to your child how important it is for Allah to be pleased with us and how pleased He is when we fast during Ramadan. Explain that even though fasting is hard, we get reward for struggling. It isn’t that Allah wants us to suffer – after all, going for a few hours without food or drink is not suffering, and if it would cause us harm to go without, He wants us to eat and drink – but that He is pleased to see the small sacrifices we are willing to make in hopes of making Him happy.

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Salaam alaykum wa rahmatullah. Ramadan mubarek!

Thank you for this question – it’s one that I’m sure a lot of children are asking this time of year, especially as they get to the age where they begin fasting, as well.

Allah Commands It

When it comes down to it, the simplest reason that we fast is because Allah commanded us to do so in the Quran. In Surah Baqara, verse 185 He said:

“Ramadan is the [month] in which the Quran was sent down, as a guide to mankind, also clear [signs] for guidance and the differentiation [between right and wrong].” He also said, only two verses before, verse 183: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness.”

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is something that Allah has told us to do, and so we do it.

However, having children myself, I know that this is not an answer that will be satisfying to young minds. So there are two other options to explore.

Empathy for those Less Fortunate

This is a reason often cited during Ramadan: that during this time we deprive ourselves of food and water so that we may be grateful for those blessings. We are fortunate to be able to break our fast at the end of the day, but we are mindful that there are many around the world who are not so fortunate. There are many who are in more or less a perpetual state of fasting, due to famine, war, poverty, etc.

This reason provides an easy explanation to young children. But in my opinion, it is a fairly weak reason. Nowhere in the Quran or Hadith that I am aware of does it mention this as a reason for fasting. Yes, we may gain empathy for those less fortunate and this should increase our charitable giving during this time, but it is not really the reason.

A non-Muslim cannot understand what it is like to be Muslim by wearing a hijab for a few hours – and those of us fortunate enough to have sufficient food every day cannot understand what it is to be destitute just by fasting for daylight hours. Empathy is good, but providing this as a reason for fasting is rather shallow.

Taqwa

In a Hadith from Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet (saw) told us:

“Whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards … all his past sins will be forgiven.”

This, to me, is much more the crux of “why” we fast. We fast with the intent of pleasing Allah and with the hope of having our sins forgiven. During the month of Ramadan, Shaytaan is chained up and cannot influence us. So what better time to dedicate ourselves to worship?

During the month of Ramadan, the goal is to attain taqwa and to draw our hearts nearer to Allah. When we fast with sincere intention, He forgives us for our sins.

My best advice is to explain to your child how important it is for Allah to be pleased with us and how pleased He is when we fast during Ramadan. Explain that even though fasting is hard, we get reward for struggling. It isn’t that Allah wants us to suffer – after all, going for a few hours without food or drink is not suffering, and if it would cause us harm to go without, He wants us to eat and drink – but that He is pleased to see the small sacrifices we are willing to make in hopes of making Him happy.

Insha’Allah this helps – children can really ask some tough questions!

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

I Need Tips for Preparing My Kids for Ramadan

Shall I Let My 7-Year-Old Daughter Fast in Ramadan?

Ramadan Mubarak! Fresh Ramadan Content Every Day (Special Page)

 

 

 

 




About Leah Mallery

Leah is a Muslim convert of almost a decade. She has two kids, an intercultural marriage, and half of a French degree in her back pocket, looking to switch gears to science and medicine. She has lived abroad for over a decade, having just recently become reacquainted with her roots in America. She currently lives in Michigan near her family and – masha’Allah – a sizeable Muslim community.

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