Children and Fasting - Month of Ramadan Issues

One of the questions that sometimes people have is my nine year old daughter, does she have to fast in the month of Ramadan? What if it's very difficult for her? Is there a way out? Can you help? Of course. This is one of the challenges that parents face in this particular month.

First of all, before answering this question, we have to remember when does a girl become baligha? Or in other words, obligatory deeds must be performed by her. Some people think it's when she becomes nine years of age in her Gregorian birthday. The reality is not this. According to the rulings of our eminent jurists, it's when she becomes nine according to the lunar calendar, which means it is approximately eight years, eight months and 18 days by which she becomes baligha.

But now, upon this age and onwards, it is obligatory for her to observe the fasting month of Ramadan, but if it becomes extremely harmful for her to the extent that it's something that can be tolerated, then she can break the fast only to the extent, for example, of drinking some amount of water or some amount of food that is sufficient for her for that day. And then, of course, to make it up as qadha' after the month of Ramadan.

There is no need necessarily for Kaffara in this particular instance. But if it is just difficult as it would be for many people, as parents, it's very important that we support our children with every possible way.

For example, sleep and rest, a disciplined program whereby the necessary food and nutrition is provided at the time of Iftar and at the time of Suhur as well. If it is also becoming difficult, then one option that has been presented by our scholars is traveling 22 kilometers outside the perimeter of the city, breaking the fast and coming back. And of course, this has to happen before Dhuhur. And later on, qadha' would be performed after the month of Ramadan.

The responsibility is upon parents to identify whether their daughters are in the position to observe the fast they know, the strength and the weaknesses of their daughter. But at the same time, they should not necessarily jump to quick conclusions, but be as supportive as possible so that they will attain the reward and perhaps they can give it a try for a few days. How does it go and assess it as they go along and Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will bless them, will support them and will shower them with its grace and blessings.

This is an opportunity to develop strength, self-discipline and a programed act of worship. And for a nine year old, the almighty Subhana wa Ta'ala knows that it is certainly possible, doable, achievable and highly rewardable. But Islam is also a religion that caters for those who may not be able to undertake this.

And so all possibilities are presented. Perhaps sometimes a discussion with a local scholar or somebody who has learned to come to an understanding and a conclusion may be advisable.

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