Tuesday is Eid al-Fitr, the important Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. It is celebrated with family and feasts, often at home.
For the past month, devout Muslims have refrained from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours.
While most Muslims begin fasting when they reach puberty, some occasionally fast at a younger age to prepare themselves.
Salaar Faiz, 9, a fourth grade student at Reidenbaugh Elementary School in Manheim Township, began fasting during Fridays and weekends this year. Salaar is the son of Dr. Tipu Faiz Saleem and Dr. Saba Faiz. A basketball and cricket fan, he agreed to share his thoughts as Ramadan comes to a close.
Many young people begin fasting when they reach middle school or high school. Why did you decide to fast as a fourth grade student?
According to Islamic faith, it is not compulsory for me to fast at my age. Fasting will be obligatory for me when I will attain full puberty. However, I observed my family and friends fasting in Ramadan. My cool elder brother (Aizaaz) told me fasting makes him strong mentally. Fasting doesn’t only mean avoiding food or drink intake, it also means to be kind, truthful and helpful. I thought all this is very cool and fasting will make me a better person. I wanted to practice fasting on some days to prepare myself for future obligation. I also want to feel closer to God and avoid bad deeds by virtue of fasting.
Do you fast throughout the week or on select days?
I fasted some of the weekends as I am off from school, and some Fridays, as Friday is the sacred day of week for Muslims, just like Saturday is sacred for Jews and Sunday is sacred for Christians.
The days are getting longer as we approach summer months. Was it difficult to begin your fast?
Luckily so far weather has been pleasant, maybe by the blessings of month of Ramadan. But yes, it felt hard in the beginning but later on it got easier. Maybe my body got used to it or God gave me extra strength.
What did you miss the most — water, certain foods?
I miss drinking water the most and also I missed the McDonald’s which my Mom sometimes gets me on the way home after picking me up from school.
As a student at Reidenbaugh Elementary School, how did your friends react to your decision?
When I fasted on Friday during school, my friends thought it was cool and my teacher considered it brave effort. One of my non-Muslim friends who has migrated from Egypt told us of his recollections of people in Egypt celebrating fasting and feasting in the month of Ramadan as a festival in Egypt.
What was the worst part about fasting?
It is usually OK but worst part about fasting is when you see others eating around you, then you need more power to control your hunger. It’s hard during school but especially hard during lunch break in school, but maybe that will give me more self-control and earn more points in God’s register.
What was the best part?
There are lot of good things about fasting, a feeling of being closer to God and earning good deeds. But best part which I enjoyed the most is the time of breaking the fast at time of sunset, when whole family and, at times, friends get together to share the feast. The breaking of fast is like a party time every evening with a lot of yummy foods, cold drinks and deserts.
What lessons did you take away from the month of Ramadan?
Ramadan teaches me discipline, self-control and helps me understand the value of food and water, which may not be sufficiently available to poor people. During fasting, I felt closer to God and felt like a good boy.