Ramadan in UAE: How Emirati brothers slowly worked their way to observe first full day fast

Many children are inspired by family and surroundings to fast at early age

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 1:51 PM

For 9-year old Thani and 8-year-old Humaid, this was the first year that they fasted a full day during Ramadan, and the Emirati brothers are thrilled and excited about it.

“We love Ramdan and spending time with the family,” said Thani.

“We love waking up for suhoor with our parents and then going to mosque with baba (father). I think what I like the most about Ramadan is the vibe of the mosque. It is beautiful.”

The boys have been slowly working their way towards fasting for a full day.

“Last year, they woke up for suhoor and would fast till dhuhr prayer,” said their mother Maryam.

“This is the first year that it is Ramadan and they have time off from school. So they are excited about attempting to fast the full day.”

It is not compulsory for Muslims to fast during Ramadan until they reach puberty. However, many children are inspired by their families and surroundings to fast at an early age. The first fast is often considered a rite of passage and is usually an occasion that is celebrated in Muslim households.

Healthy eating

According to Maryam, Thani and Humaid usually have something filling for suhoor (pre-dawn meal). “I give them rice because it is filling,” she said.

“And I pair it with some proteins like chicken. Beef is too salty and will tend to make them thirsty so I try to avoid it.”

Maryam and her husband usually have soup, banana, dates and yoghurt for suhoor. She also makes it a point to prepare a healthy iftar. “We usually have salad and soup for iftar,” she said.

“We also usually have samosas. Yesterday, I tried to air fry it for it to be a healthier option but the 'miskeenah' samosas went untouched. So I think we will go back to frying the samosas in oil.”

Fried snacks are a big part of iftar tables all across the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Samosas, a triangle-shaped puff pastry that is filled with either potatoes, chicken, meat or cheese, is a snack that has transcended boundaries and is a firm favourite among people of various nationalities.

Grandma’s iftar

To celebrate their first fast, the family gathered together at their grandparents’ home. That is where the boys’ favourite iftar happens. “We get to meet our cousins and play with them,” said Humaid. “We love the iftar at our grandparents’ home.”

“Also, at grandma’s home the table is laden with Vimto and Tang and all the stuff that Mamma doesn’t keep at her iftar table,” laughed Maryam.

“The boys love going to their grandparents house because they are spoilt over there. But that is ok, that is what grandparents are for.”

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