Should Children Fast the Long Days of Ramadan in Europe?

27 May, 2017
Q As-Salamu alaykum. What is the ruling on children fasting in Europe? The fasting hours are long here, reaching 17 hours or even more. Kids need to go to school and participate in classes that require physical activity which may make fasting too difficult for them. Please advise on this issue.


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Answering your question, Dr Khaled Hanafi, Head of the fatwa committee in Germany and member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), states:  

This question is important, especially with the concerns voiced by the questioner. The fasting period is long in Europe and children have to attend their schools, participate in school’s sports classes and take school exams.

Before reaching the age of puberty, fasting is not obligatory on children. At this stage, fasting is meant to train and attract kids to this worship so that when they grow up, they do not find it difficult.

Therefore, great flexibility is allowed here. Children can abstain from certain types of food and eat others or fast during half of the day or in the weekends only and so on. They may be promised some prizes if they achieve certain fasting goals.

After reaching the age of puberty, fasting becomes obligatory. However, it happens that some children reach puberty at an early age when they are physically weak and fasting is difficult for them, especially when the day is long and school is difficult.

In such a case, a child is exempted from fasting during Ramadan and should make up for the missed days after Ramadan when it is more convenient such as during winter for example.

A child can also fast during holidays occurring in Ramadan and make up for the rest of the days later. In all cases, parents should follow up and ensure that their kids do make up for these days after Ramadan.

Need for Balance

We need to be balanced when dealing with the legal concession (rukhsah) of breaking the fast during Ramadan. On one hand, breaking the fast should not be resorted to when no real reasons necessitate it. On the other hand, we should not abandon this concession if valid reasons exist.

We do not want to make our kids dislike fasting by forcing them to observe it and getting them scared of breaking the fast if it is beyond their ability. One of the preconditions of fasting is the ability to observe it.

Besides, we should not ignore the special circumstances related to fasting in Europe such as the long fast days these years.

May Allah protect Muslims’ kids and make faith attractive for them and us.

Allah Almighty knows best.