Open Minds - Fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan
Want to embrace living in the UAE? Culture guru Nasif Kayed tells you how...
My daughter Cami, who is just nine years old, is, like many children, fasting during this Holy Month of Ramadan.
I have to say the best part about her fasting is that she has to be nice to her little brother who is just three!
She has to ask: “Sweetie, please may I have the iPad”. Normally, outside of Ramadan, she’d just snatch it from him without asking.
Cami has been fasting since first grade in school. Then, she’d fast until 1pm. This year she’s doing the whole of Ramadan.
She says that if she doesn’t fast she feels she’s missing out on something because the rest of the family, except her little brother, is fasting.
It’s one of those things that you have to say: “If you think you can do it, go ahead”. And if they ask for a bowl of cereal by 9am, you don’t say: “No, you’re fasting”, you give them it.
Cami was one of only two girls in her class fasting last year. It’s hard for them when they are at school. But Cami, who is a very talkative girl, tells me: “Even my friend’s little sister, she’s only six years old and she fasts until Maghrib, she is fasting all day.”
Who chooses to fast and who doesn’t is about how connected you are with your faith and what fasting means to you. For some people fasting is simply about ‘I’m starving myself all day long and I’m not drinking and eating’ and that’s it.
Others ask questions and they say what are you going to buy for Eid? I say this, whether it is politically correct or not, as it is the truth - this is what we did with the religions before Islam. Previous to Islam, we took the religion and we made it suit our own liking. So therefore from being something that has principles, it became commercialised.
That’s why Christmas is about buying gifts and it has nothing to do with commemorating the prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. So during Ramadan in my family we pass on that lesson that it’s about the principles, it’s not about what everybody else makes it out to be.
Cami says, ‘When you fast it makes you feel more thankful to Allah that we actually have food because there’s some people out there who don’t have food to break their fast. So we need to be more thankful. Fasting makes us more thankful, it makes us more humble’.
At the end of the day, everybody makes choices.
Nasif Kayed is general manager of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Cultural Understanding. Every week in 7DAYS he will address topics about culture and life in the UAE. Do you have a question for him? Email firstname.lastname@example.org