My First Ramadan: 'My curiosity led me to start fasting'
Sophia's mom Yasmin Shaukat took the opportunity to explain to her the essence of fasting
When 24-year-old Pakistani expatriate Sophia Kulsoom thinks of Ramadan, the one thing she is reminded of is giving. And the fondest memories she has of the holy month, takes her back to her early childhood years.
"From unforgettable memories of my childhood I can recall a very clear picture of my first fast ever. Being born in quite a religious household, Ramadan was the most celebrated month. As a young 6-year-old I used to see my parents and my elder siblings Saima and Faisal fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. This made me very curious about the concept of not eating from dawn to dusk and I remember asking my mother why do we fast."
This is when Sophia's mom Yasmin Shaukat took the opportunity to explain to her the essence of fasting. Yasmin recited the verses from the Holy Quran (chapter 2 verse 183) telling Sophia how Ramadan is made obligatory on us.
"She also added that if you fast, the rewards are immense."
That touched her deeply, and Sophia decided to start fasting the very next day. " Although I was just six years old and fasting was not yet obligatory on me, my mother never discouraged me or stopped me from fasting. On the contrary, she motivated and appreciated my brave little move."
Describing her first Suhoor, Sophia said: "I remember my mother waking me up for suhoor and bringing me to the dinning table where a variety of food items awaited me. From oven baked chicken, milk porridge , fresh fruits, dates to olives, juices and tea. I sat and I was fed with the things I desired to eat."
It was good going for Sophia, as her mother entertained her with lots of prophetic stories and simple fun activities, until hunger struck.
"This was when I saw my mother cut a huge, red water melon to prepare for Iftar. Now, I absolutely love watermelons and couldn't resist the temptation. When mummy went to take nap, I sneaked into the kitchen, opened the fridge and stuffed few pieces of water melon in my mouth.
"Yes I ended my fast well before time but I guess I was too young (only 6) to understand the whole meaning of fasting. "I don't remember telling mom I broke my fast as I didn't want to break her heart. And I enjoyed the Iftar that day with the rest of my family.
But mothers are mothers, when Sophia told her mother about the incident years later, she was shocked at what her mother told her.
"She only smiled and said I knew it...I could see watermelon stains on your dress but I didn't say a word to you so that you can realise that we fast for Allah (swt) and not for people. She said another reason why she didn't say anything was because she didn't want to discourage me."
That was one guilt-ridden memory of my first ever fast. However, other memories of the holy month include going for Taraweeh with her family and giving out food packages to their neighbours, friends and also to those who couldn't afford a nice home-made meal like the watchman, drivers and labourers.
Talking about living in the UAE Sophia said: "I have learnt so much of generosity by being raised here. And I will take this with me wherever I go in my life. I feel very blessed that I could spend my childhood in such a country that celebrates this month and provides so many facilities to its residents."
Counting her blessings, Sophia said: " From reduced school and working hours, providing food in mosques to inviting different Qaris for Tawareeh, I feel so proud to say that I have been raised in a country which teaches generosity and kindness through its actions.
"It has now become a part of my system now, and I now very often give out Suhoor and Iftar meals to labourers near my house and I shall continue to do so all my life."
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