When we were kids, my siblings and I had piggy banks where we put in money we had saved or money given to us by relatives or friends of our parents. There was predictably a competition among us to see who had the most. At the end of Ramadan, my dad would also ask how many fasts we had completed and pay us for each day we had observed. That was the highlight of our fasting! It made the entire struggle worthwhile. To compensate for the missed meals, my mum would cook up a storm and offer us a 3-course meal which my brother would consume! I usually couldn’t eat so much.
As I approached puberty, I got ashamed at fasting only during the weekends as my parents insisted. At the madrasa, little kids would say they fasted during the week and rested on weekends while mine was the opposite. I would beg my mum to wake me for sahur but she feared I wouldn’t be able to cope so she didn’t. If I managed to wake on time, I promised to break at 4pm but fasted till sunset instead.
Once I gained the freedom to fast every day, I grabbed it with relish! I looked forward to waking up to help my mum prepare sahur. I was eager to go eat in my dad’s freezing room (thanks to the air conditioner) and watch some Islamic programme on TV.
What I am driving at is that as parents, or adults, we should strive to make Ramadan and ‘Eid magical for the young ones so that they can continue to fast in their adulthood when they won’t get monetary rewards for it; and they will be able to share beautiful memories of growing up.
If they are too young, heighten their spirituality by encouraging them to donate some of their toys to kids in the hospital or orphanage.
Celebrate the children fasting today and encourage them. Let them feel special for obeying Allah. Get them an ice-cream, allow them sit in the front of the car beside you, permit them watch their favourite cartoon for an hour…
I’ll love to read your memories of Ramadan.