What age should children be made to fast?
Ramadan is approaching and you’re wondering whether your kid is ready to finally try fasting this year. But really, when is the right age for children to be made to fast? Most importantly, what did the prophet (salallahu alaihi wasalam) teach his companions when it comes to this issue?
Preventing the kids to fast out of mercy
Some parents prevent their children from fasting out of pity and mercy for them when in reality, their kids are capable enough to fast with just a little encouragement.
Shaykh Uthaymeen, a prominent scholar of our time has said with regards to this, “The reality is that mercy for one’s children is in ordering them to practice the rites of Islam and to grow accustomed and attached to them. This without a doubt is from the best and most complete forms of raising and cultivating one’s children.”
(48 Su’aalan fis-Siyaam, source)
Thus, we should try our best to train our kids to fast as we will see later in a hadith, that this was also from the way the companions taught their children. However, it is important to note that the Shaykh also mentioned that we should not let them fast if it causes them difficulty or harm.
Ensuring that they are physically ready to fast
Scholars such as ‘Ata’, al-Hassan, Ibn Sireen, al-Zuhri, Qatadah and ash-Shaafa’i are in the view that children should be told to fast when they are able to do it.
Al-Awzaa’i also said, “ If he is able to fast for three consecutive days without interruption and without becoming weak, then he should be made to fast Ramadan.”
At the age of 10
Other scholars have mentioned the age of 10 for children to be made to fast, with reference to the hadith of commanding the children to pray as quoted below. The reason being, both are from the physical acts of worship that are also from the pillars of Islam.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and beat them for it (prayer) when they become ten years old; and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately.”
[Sunan Abi Dawud 495, Graded Hassan Sahih by Al-Albani, source]
Getting children used to fasting at a young age
Let’s take it that we should ask our children to fast at the age of 10. So what happens before that? Do we just let them be and expect our children to fast by the time they are ten and if somehow they are not able to do it, we simply punish them? Of course not.
Rather, as mentioned before, the scholars such as Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani have recommended training our kids to fast before they reach the age of puberty so that they will be accustomed to it by the time they are older. This is based on the actions of the companions of the prophet (salallahu alaihi wasalam) where they strive to train their kids to fast at a young age as in the hadith below:
Khalid b. Dhakwan reported: I asked Rubayyi’ daughter of Mu’awwidh about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. Thereupon she said: The Messenger of Allah (may peace he upon him) sent his messenger to the villages of the Ansar, and the rest of the hadith is the same (but with this variation that one of the Companions) said:” We used to make toys out of wool and took (them to the mosque) along with us. When they (the children) asked us for food, we gave them these toys to play with, and these made them forgetful till they completed their fast.”
[Sahih Muslim 1136 b, source]
Therefore, before the age of ten is the period where we train and motivate them to begin fasting. Find out how to get your child ready for fasting in the post below.
7 Tips to getting our kids ready for fasting during Ramadan.
Free Printable Ramadan Book and Tracker for Kids
Here is a little Ramadan gift from me to you. You can download these from our resource library for FREE.
Want to remember this? Post this article to your favourite Pinterest boards!