Children and Fasting

Someone brought up the topic of children and fasting online and someone responded with great advice from Shaykh Ubaid Al-Jabiri, alhamdulillah, so I thought I would share it here as well as Ramadan draws near.  In the question to the scholar below, someone asks about a woman who made her two year old fast.  This brought to mind of an incident my cowife related to me about a  woman in her home country of Morocco who had a little girl and made her fast and the girl repeatedly asked her mother for something to eat throughout the day, but the mother told her to just try to hold on a little longer, a little longer, and subhanAllah, later that day the little girl passed away as a result of the fasting.

Benefit: Chart - Who Fasting Is and Isn't Incumbent Upon

Training Children for Worship
Al-Rubay’ bint Mu’awwidh – Allah be pleased with her – said while describing how the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – told them to fast ‘Âshûrâ:
We used to make toys out of dyed wool for the children and keep them with us so if the children asked us for food we would give them the toys to distract them until they completed their fast. Sahîh Muslim. A similar narration is also in Sahîh Al-Bukhârî.
Al-Nawawî states in his commentary on Sahîh Muslim:
In this narration we are shown that children should be trained to do acts of obedience and made used to doing worship; although they are not legally bound.
Oh Shaykh, You find from the women those who make their child fast and the child is only two years of age. They use as a proof for this, that the Salaf used to make the young children fast. What are your comments upon this?
Answer by Shaykh Ubaid Al-Jabiri:
That which I am aware of from which the scholars have mentioned, is that the young child should be commanded to fast, if they are able to handle it. I believe that they intend by this the child who has reached the age of discretion (tamyeez) or those above that, those who are (approx.) 8 or 9 years of age because they are said to be able to handle it. The child is commanded with acts of worship when he reaches the age of discretion. This is as training and to get him accustomed to it so he may know the acts of worship like the prayer and fasting.
As for the woman making the child fast and they are two years of age then this is a mistake. I don’t know any example of this from the actions of the Salaf. I hope that you convey my Salaams to them. And I advise them to fear Allah as it pertains to their children. For, verily the child who is two will suffer harm from fasting and he has no intellect to allow him to be commanded. That which is reported upon the Salaf is that the child should be commanded, and the like of him, (the two year old) will not be able to comprehend a command or prohibition. Those women making their children (the like of this age) fast are committing a monstrous mistake.
I fear that if the baby was to die, due to the mother making him fast, she caused this and no doubt she is a sinner. I hold that she caused this and she has to pay blood money and “Kafarah” expiation.
Shaykh Ubaid Al-Jabiri


Lessons on Fasting for Kids
  • Fasting in Ramadan for Kids - lessons for kids from" - This article contains translations in very simple English and thus is intended for younger readers or anyone simply wanting a smooth reading article."

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