Ramadan’s lessons for Muslim kidsBy Nash B. Maulana
At an early age, Muslim children are taught that Ramadan is not mere food deprivation.
For 9-year-old Amir Hussien, the Islamic practice would mean a monthlong interval instead of his parents’ usual treat for him and his sister Ma’amor Rubayyat to fast-food chains during daytime on weekends.
Amir’s parents would also tell him to be kinder and be thankful that he did not run out of food as other children his age did in evacuation centers.
Dinda Layang, 10, said her 63-year-old grandmother had warned against her usual display of junk food to children in their small neighborhood in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao.
“It seems to me that my grandma gets stronger and healthier during Ramadan. She tells me that fasting takes heavy meals off the dining table, sans meat and with more frequent intake of fruits and bread at nighttime,” Dinda said in Maguindanao.
Shaad Masuri Abdulatip, 9, also got an out-of-school lesson from his father.
“My father tells me to skip recess in school if I can during Ramadan, so I could learn to fast one step at a time at an early age,” the fourth grader said.
Ustadz Esmael Ebrahim of Assembly of Dharul Ifta (ADI) agreed, stressing that the upbringing of Muslim children should include getting them used to refraining from extra likes for and the conspicuous display of foods and drinks, especially during daytime of Ramadan.
“Practicing self-restraint at a young age inculcates self-discipline early in life and makes fasting easier for them at the right age, Esmael said.
That “right age” is when the children reach puberty—13 for boys and 15 for girls.
Still, there are treats for the kids at the Ramadan night markets at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) capitol grounds in Cotabato City where families can go to after sunset for food and some shopping.
To the delight of children, colorful neon and street lights virtually tear the nightfall at the marketplace starting Friday, the eve of the first day of fasting.
Civil society leaders and government workers joined hands in a unity prayer walk, as officials lit their way to a dinner at a mosque yard, by switching on colorful neon and lead lights at the opening of a trade fair inside the 43-hectare government capitol complex.
Acting ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman is also executive director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos .
(Editor’s Note: Nash B. Maulana is on leave as a correspondent of Inquirer Mindanao. He is currently chief of the ARMM’s Bureau of Public Information.)
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