بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Every year, when Ramadan is about to start, a mother’s mind starts having some apprehensive thoughts: will I be able to fast easily? Will I feel very hungry or thirsty? How tiring will it be with the children at home all day? How will I plan meals? Will I awaken in time to pray qiyam and prepare suhoor, after returning home late after taraweeh? Will I be able to pray taraweeh at the masjid at all?

It’s a wonder how Shaitan always manages to put such thoughts into our minds as Ramadan approaches, even though year after year, Allah facilitates millions of Muslims all over the world, in varying circumstances and situations, to fast successfully throughout the month without encountering any major problems.

I haven’t known anyone to have suffered because of fasting during Ramadan. And what about the fortunate Muslims, who spend the entire month in Makkah? Despite the heat and dust of the barren desert, millions of pilgrims throng Masjid Al-Haram throughout Ramadan, to perform umrah, daily prayers, and do tawaf of the Ka’bah in the intense heat whilst fasting, without falling ill or suffering any physical harm.

The blessings of Ramadan are truly amazing!

Ramadan spent with babies

I can still vividly recall the way my Ramadans used to pass when my older two children were both under 4 years of age: still “babies”. Suhoor was prepared after carefully tiptoeing out of the bedroom in the dark, so that they wouldn’t wake up because of a noise.

Diapers, tantrums, toys and my arms loaded with a child – this was how most of the day passed as I fasted in the blessed month. Feeding them and watching over them sapped most of my daytime energy, and I used to wonder if the concentration (khushoo) would ever return to my salah; if I’d ever be able to pray a full taraweeh without interruptions, the way I used to when I was single, devotedly attentive from the very first takbeer of fard salah, till the imam’s last tasleem at the end of witr.

Six years later, the onset of Ramadan has dawned upon a visible change in my life. SubhanAllah, it amazes me to realize that change is the only constant in life! Now these two children, aged 9 and almost 7, respectively, are already in the age range in which they are under rigorous training for performing the daily salah.

Alhamdulillah, that means that they really enjoy standing for taraweeh prayers with us parents during Ramadan now. I no longer have to worry about them naughtily running off during taraweeh.

My youngest, a toddler who is 2.5 years old right now, is thankfully less prone by nature than her older siblings to run off by herself in large crowds. Praying taraweeh with her this year and the last, has been much easier, alhamdulillah.

My long lost khushoo almost seems to be back! 🙂

This just goes to show that a mother’s patient efforts during Ramadan, of taking her babies along with her in worship, pay off much more greatly than she can ever imagine, just a few short years later!

Ramadan family meeting

It really helps to convene a small “orientation” style meeting for the whole family before or as soon as Ramadan starts. Preferably, the parents should get all the children to sit at the dining table or on the floor in a circle, and brief them about what changes to expect in the household once the blessed month commences.

Young children need to be reminded every year about the wisdom behind fasting during the day and praying at night, even if they are under the age of 10-12 and thus not fasting yet. A spirit of collective worship needs to be inculcated in the household, so that the children feel like they are a part of earning the rewards of worship even if they are not fasting every day.

cerealFor example, children in the age range of 5-9 years should be trained to independently prepare simple and healthy “do-it-yourself” kind of snacks during the day, to feed themselves whenever they feel hungry, such as cereal & milk, fruit, and butter/jam/cream cheese/any other spread on slices of bread or bagels. They can be trained to add cold cuts/deli meats to bread or pita to make cold sandwiches for themselves. The purpose of doing this would be to spare their fasting mother the toil of preparing their meal at lunch time.

When children will be thus trained, they will also not disturb their fasting mother as she naps before Asr prayer in the afternoons, by remaining quiet and feeding themselves if they feel hungry.

The parents will thus benefit by allowing the children to feel more empowered and included in partaking from the reward of their parents’ fasting.

Replacing leisure outings with nightly taraweeh

Younger children also need to be reminded that, during this month, they will see their outdoor excursions curtailed to some extent. Replacing these outdoor recreational activities with indoor games and activities (books and constructive games are a great choice) will lessen the boredom of going out less often.

With my children, I have seen that the almost daily nocturnal excursion of attending taraweeh prayers more than makes up for their supposed lack of ‘entertainment’ and leisure outings. My children enjoy going to and praying taraweeh so much, that they do not feel like they are missing out on our trips to the malls, restaurants and parks, masha’Allah.

That being said, stopping at a park for 15 minutes of carefree play after taraweeh might be a good idea to keep the children motivated to continue cooperating with their parents’ schedule of worship throughout the rest of the month.

At this point, I’d like to stress, however, that those parents whose children are very young, should be mindful of them during taraweeh, and they should train them well beforehand about how to behave in the masjid during the prayers if they intend to attend taraweeh regularly.

Some of the masajid near our home have unfortunately disallowed younger children and their mothers from attending taraweeh because of the disturbance caused to those praying because of the children’s antics, and it is sad to see this phenomenon.

It was a challenge for me to attend taraweeh when my older two children were under the age of 5, because they needed to be supervised and that meant giving up praying some of the prayer in order to keep an eye on them if I attended taraweeh. Therefore, I spent a few Ramadans just praying Qiyam Al Layl at home.

In order to maintain a balance, parents of babies and toddlers can also attend taraweeh on alternate nights or biweekly, according to their convenience.

Conclusion – children can’t wait to start fasting!

From birth till puberty, a child who is born and raised in a household in which the parents spend Ramadan in worshiping Allah in a diligent, patient and devout manner, will grow up eager to start fasting as soon as possible.

This usually happens between the ages of 8 -10 i.e. the child specifically starts asking his or her parents to wake them up for suhoor, without being forced. They want to fast in Ramadan just like they see the others around them doing.

If you are one of those fortunate parents whose child wants to start fasting before you coerce them to, know that indeed you are fortunate, because your child has clearly been positively inspired by the annual Ramadan routine in your home, to want to become a part of it themselves.

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