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How to Teach Kids Ramadan Isn’t Just About Eating

Questioner

S (30_female_Bangladesh)

Reply Date

May 21, 2018

Question

My question is how to teach children the beauty and simplicity of Ramadan when the family around us put so much emphasis on food. I regret to say that in many cases, Ramadan is associated with spending endless hours in the kitchen. The children might get confused between the cultural traits associated with this month and the values I want to teach them. Jazak Allah.

Counselor

Answer


In this counseling answer:

•Maybe you can set an example for your children by breaking fast in a more simple manner by not over-eating, for example.

•You can set another example by doing the tarawih prayers every night, and by reading the Qur’an, etc. etc.

•So arm yourself with knowledge of Islam and the appropriate way of observing Ramadan, and then teach your children what we should be doing, rather than what might be happening around us.


As-salamu `alaikum sister,

Thank you for your question. It is a very poignant question for the age we are living in. It reminds me of an article I read last year about Ramadan in Egypt, and how the month was becoming a time of excessive eating (at night), sitting around doing nothing and watching TV.

In the country where I reside, although the traditions of fasting and going to the mosques at night for prayers are still alive and well, it too seems to have become a time of more gluttony rather than self-denial.

Therefore, it is important to realize that this phenomenon that we are dealing with is quite prevalent in other parts of the Muslim world, not only in your country and culture.

It is unfortunate, however, because Ramadan is the best time of the year for those who believe in the promise and mercy of Allah. It is a time re-charging our spiritual selves and batteries and returning to simplicity and taqwa (piety).

As for your question specifically, there is nothing wrong with preparing a nice Iftar; however, there should be some attempt made by those that see what is happening to make suggestions to the others to maybe make breaking the fast a more simple exercise.

In addition, it is always important that we have to be truthful with our children regarding these matters. There is nothing wrong with explaining to them that what is practiced as a culture in your country is not exactly according to the teachings of Islam. We don’t want to put down any of our fellow Muslims specifically, but it is important that children understand early on that what they see Muslims doing, is not always according to the faith.

I do this with my children as well when they ask me questions about things that they see. For example, even when my daughter tells me that her religious teacher sometimes makes fun of her name, I remind her that in Islam it is not good to do that actually.

Allah reminds us in the Qur’an specifically to not make fun of others, particularly by giving them unpleasant nicknames. Of course, I’m sure the ustaz doesn’t mean any harm by it, and I certainly don’t bad mouth him, but I always try to explain to her what we should be striving for, rather than what she might see. Then, of course, I – as the parent and primary example – must put that into practice.

So in your case, maybe you can set an example for your children by breaking fast in a more simple manner by not over-eating, for example. Then, you can set another example by doing the tarawih prayers every night, and by reading the Qur’an, etc. etc. I believe that it is always best to start with ourselves as examples, and as parents, that means that we will almost always have an impact on our children, at least in some small way.

So arm yourself with knowledge of Islam and the appropriate way of observing Ramadan, and then teach your children what we should be doing, rather than what might be happening around us. Then, and most importantly, put it into practice and invite your kids to practice it with you. In sha’ Allah, that will be a more powerful example for them than what they see around them.

Salam

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah

Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.

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