Ibrahim Siddiqui, 11, began fasting when he was 7.
“It’s really easy when you start,” says Ibrahim, a sixth grader at Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes. “The first time my mom told me to do it, I was like ‘OK.’ And then I had to do it every year. I did it for 30 days. I didn’t miss one day of it.”
In the beginning he would go into the kitchen several times a day and open the refrigerator.
“I’d remember every time I’d open the fridge that I’m fasting so I’d close it,” he says.
Despite the lack of water, Ibrahim says he sometimes plays sports with friends during breaks from prayer and reading the Quran.
“I know in a couple of hours I am just go to the masjid [mosque] and eat. That’s all I’m thinking about,” Ibrahim says. “I don’t care if I get sweaty outside.”
The key, he says, is to shower. “The water — it makes you cool down.”
Ibrahim’s mom, Rafat Jahangir, 40, says she’s proud of the effort her son puts into his fast.
“We’re trying to do a strong foundation,” she says. “We are trying to teach our son the feeling people have when they live without food and water. We teach him to give to charity so he can help them. ”
The imam at the Islamic Center of Greater Miami in Miami Gardens says people should remember the reasons for the fast and the meaning behind Ramadan.
“It’s a time to make up for shortcomings and if you’ve made some mistakes, now is time to repent and change yourself,” says Imam Abdul Hamid Samra.
Muslims read the Quran during the month, pray and think about those less fortunate, he says
“An important reason why we fast is to put ourselves in the situation of those who are hungry and don’t have food,” Samra says. “People do a lot of charity work.”
Sana, the 11-year-old from Kendall, first fasted when she was 8, for a few days out of the month.
“It was her choice and we let her do it but we were not quite sure, ” says her mother, Munira Motorwala, 50, a homemaker. “She likes to snack around and I thought, ‘Will she be able to do it?’ and she did it.”
Sana’s parents set a rule for that first fast: She was permitted to break her fast at any time if she felt she couldn’t do it. That rule remains today.
Many Muslim parents allow their children to fast for a half day, every other day or only on weekends.
“I remember when I was little I’d do it once or twice in the month,” Sana says, adding she felt fasting would make her feel more “grown up.”
Her 16-year-old brother, Aarif, fasts, as do her mother and father, Safder, 54, a pharmacist.
Joining them in the month-long fast “was her decision,’” says her mother. “This wasn’t forced on her and she may choose not to do it anymore in the middle and that would be OK with us. It’s just great that she is doing it.”
Being a habitual snacker, Sana says she tries to distract herself by reading, writing and playing with her Wii so she doesn’t think about food.
“You think about chocolate, then you think about all these descriptive words and you’re like, ‘I want that now,’ ” she says.