At What Age Must One Start Fasting?

Question: At what age must a boy begin fasting in Ramadan?

Answer: Prayer and fasting becomes obligatory on a child once he/she reaches puberty. However, the wisdom of Islam offers us guidance on how to help our children before puberty to gradually become consistent in their worship and develop a love it.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Tell your children to pray when they are seven years old, and hit them for [not performing] it when they are ten, and separate them in their beds.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

What is meant by “hit” is discipline. Hitting is not sought in itself. It is not the recommended form of discipline, nor it is sufficient as discipline on its own. Its purpose isn’t to cause physical harm, rather it is to illustrate the gravity of the matter. If it is used, there are many restrictions, such as not hitting the face.

The scholars suggest the following guidelines:

1. Children before the age of seven should be encouraged to fast (without fasting the full day) and to love these acts of worship. They can pretend what it is like to fast for an hour, for example.

2. After seven, it is recommended for the child to fast, but not necessarily for the full day nor everyday. The emphasis on fasting should be increased until the child reaches ten.

3. At ten, the child should be expected to fast.

And Allah knows best.

Answered By: Shaykh Abu Yusha Yasin

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