While fasting is not obligatory for young children, the idea is quite fascinating for many of them, especially when they see their parents and siblings go through the Ramadan routine. And although the idea of fasting for a good 15 hours can be daunting for able adults, for these tiny tots, it has been nothing short of a fascination and dream that they realised during this Ramadan.
Ayaan Matin Shaikh, 3 years and five months
Being one of the youngest in the UAE to fast this Ramadan, three-and-a-half-year-old Ayaan does not know yet the feat he has achieved. To the utter surprise of his parents Matin Shaikh and Amreen Shaikh, he stayed up with his parents all night on May 19 as they performed their special night prayers of Laylatul Qadr until Suhoor and decided to keep his first fast that day.
“I was shocked when he said he will eat Suhoor and will fast with us. We took it lightly and fed him his favourite food – noodles, watermelon and milk – and went about our regular work. But Ayaan got up at around 1pm and went about playing with his younger sister without asking for food or water,” said his father Matin.
His parents couldn’t believe it when Ayaan finally sat down with the family for Iftar, patiently waiting for the maghrib azaan.
Hailing from Solapur, Maharashtra, Ayaan’s father Matin Shaikh, who has been living in Dubai for over six years, called it as one of the happiest moments of his life.
Bushra Fatima, 6 years
This was the first time little Bushra kept her fast. The little girl has been fascinated by the idea of fasting ever since she saw her elder sister and cousins perform the practice. Her parents, Indian expats from Pune, Adil and Saba Khan, said that although they encouraged her to fast when she said she wanted to, they were sure she wouldn’t fast the full day.
“I think it is the atmosphere in the house that motivates the child to follow the footsteps of his siblings and parents even without us asking to do so. I have four kids and out of those two elder ones aged 10 and 13 are keeping all the fasts. So, Bushra also showed interest in fasting like them,” said her father Adil Khan.
Despite Bushra’s online school from 9am to 1pm, her father said, the little girl remained steady on continuing her fast even when her parents gave her the option of eating and drinking.
“We are happy that she chose to fast upon her own free will as that is how children experience and learn. We didn’t allow her to fast more as she is still quite young but hopefully from next year or so she can start fasting for the full month,” said her father Adil Khan.
Zoha Shakir, 7 years
For Zoha Shakir, not going to school has become the perfect excuse to begin fasting during the holy month.
“I have been wanting to fast since last year when my elder sister Raha, 9, began fasting but my parents did not allow. But this time since we are studying from home I insisted to fast and my parents allowed. So, staying at home was a blessing in disguise for me and I managed to keep 22 fasts this Ramadan.”
Zoha said: “I feel happy now because I can keep more fasts than before and can go hand in hand with my sister from next year as we will keep all fasts together.”
Zoha’s parents Luban and Shakir Munir said they were thrilled to see their little girl put a brave front and willingly get up for Suhoor all these days.
“We never forced any of our daughters to fast but always encouraged them to please God by obeying him. Also giving children Islamic knowledge greatly helps in keeping them motivated to pray, fast and do good deeds. I would always see Zoha’s eyes dilate with excitement when I mentioned the rewards Allah would give to those who fast,” said her mother Lubna.
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