The whole story started when my mom said: “Ramadan is coming soon. Your dad and I are going to be fasting. We want you to be more helpful around the house.”
“Do we have to fast mom?” said my brother Zeyad.
“No,” replied Mom.
“Why not?” I asked.
“You’re too young to fast,” said Mom.
The next day at school I met my friend Maryam. “Assalamu Alaikum” I greeted her.
“Wa alaikum Assalam wa rahmatu Allahy wa barakatoh. Are you getting ready for Ramadan?” asked Maryam
“Ready! Why?” I asked.
“You should be eating well so you could stay healthy when fasting. That’s what I do,” said Maryam.
“I can’t fast,” I said, “My mom said I am too young for fasting.”
After school I saw our neighbor Aunt Leena arranging the garage. “Assalamu alaikum Aunt Leena,” I started.
“Wa alaikum assalam Jannah. How are you?” replied Khala Leena.
“Alhamdulilah, Do you need help?” I asked.
“No and Jazaky Allahu Khairan. I am just preparing the house for Ramadan. You know we like to invite people over for Iftar. So I am trying to make more space.”
“Is Ahmad going to fast?” I asked.
“He will try to fast more than last year Inshaa Allah,” answered Aunt Leena.
“Isn’t he too young to fast?” I asked.
“No, it’s never too early to start,” replied Aunt Leena
At dinner, I was so busy thinking that I didn’t hear what my dad was saying.
“Jannah, I am talking to you! What are you going to do this Ramadan to please Allah?” asked Dad.
“You know, every Ramadan I put a plan I call it ‘The Plan of Obedience,’ ” he continued.
“And what is that?” asked Zeyad.
“Well Ramadan is full of blessings,” explained Dad. “It is a month of competition. Every Muslim tries to do his or her best to please Allah.”
“Before Ramadan your dad and I make a plan that contains extra prayers, extra reading of the Qur’an and extra good deeds,” Mom added.
“Can I fast?” The words just came out of my mouth. “Aunt Leena said that it’s never too early to start.”
“Yes and No,” said Mom. “Yes, it’s never too early to start and no, you should not push yourself too hard. Fasting is not hard when you take it step by step.”
“I can do that,” I said.
“OK! We have to have some rules,” Mom said. “You should eat and drink well before and after fasting.”
“That sounds easy,” I said.
“Try to go to sleep after Isha prayers so you can wake up for Suhur and not miss Fajr.”
“Uh oh, do I have to?” I asked
“Well, If you don’t you won’t be allowed to fast the following day,” informed Dad, “and what’s good fasting if you start missing your paryers?”
“I think you are absolutely right Dad,” I said after pondering over what my Dad had just said.
“Promise you will break your fast if you are tired or feel sick.”
“Don’t worry Mom I am 7 years old. I don’t think I will have to break my fast. I can take care of myself,” I said with confidence.
That night it took a long time to sleep. I think the Shaytan visited me with a bunch of “Whats and ifs”. What if it was too hard? What if you couldn’t fast at all? What if you broke your promise? What if you saw a candy or ice cream? What if… Authu billahy mena ashaytan arrajeem. I finally said and then fell asleep.
The night before the first fast. Mom reminded me, “Rule number two, Jannah.”
“OK, I am going to bed now,” I said.
Early in the morning my Mom came to wake me up. At Suhur, Mom said, “Now remember the first rule.”
So I ate well and had a glass of milk.
We prayed Fajr, I took a little nap and afterwards got ready for school. Before going to school, my Mom said, “Now remember rule number three.”
“I will mama, Insha Allah,” I said.
The day was different, but whenever I thought of food I asked myself, “Am I really hungry or is it just the habit of eating?” And then I replied to myself, “Of course, it’s just the habit, silly!”
You know what? I was able to finish the day easily since I had added rule number four for myself: Make dua at Suhur for Allah to make your fasting easy.