My son, having turned one two months ago, is now entering the stage where he is using hand gestures, speaking in baby talk (which I call bird language) and imitating those around him. One thing he is keen on imitating is Salah (the prayer). That makes sense since he has been witnessing his parents praying since his first day in this world. When I get up to pray, he watches me intently and then proceeds to place his hands on his ears and say the takbeer, maashaAllaah. He also likes saying (or attempting to say) the shahada which he hears from athaan and videos of the Eid takbeer which I play occasionally. He actually looks forward to my prayers. If he sees me pick up a garbasaar (outer garment), he starts smiling and laughing. It brings me so much joy that he is finding happiness in the prayer even if he doesn’t understand a word of it or its true purpose.
It just makes me realize that we often forget that children are sponges, they soak up everything they see around them, positive or negative. This includes Ramadan!
I remember my experiences of Ramadan as a child. My mother would encourage us to fast as long as possible. If we got hungry we would just hide behind a couch and munch on chips or other snacks. My mother would always catch on. Despite the cheating, it was a really enriching experience. It was exciting to emulate the adults around us. It was an adventure to see how long we could last without caving in. These memories remind me of a hadith.
Narrated Ar-Rubi’ bint Mu’awadh (radiallaahu `anhaa):“The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) sent a messenger to the village of the Ansar in the morning of the day of ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram) to announce: ‘Whoever has eaten something should not eat but complete the fast, and whoever is observing the fast should complete it.’ “She further said, “Since then we used to fast on that day regularly and also make our boys fast. We used to make toys of wool for the boys and if anyone of them cried for, he was given those toys till it was the time of the breaking of the fast.” [Bukhari]