Sheikh Muhammad Khalid, the former Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja, has said children must not be forced to fast during the month of Ramadan.
The Muslim cleric said this in an interview with The Punch where he listed the six categories of people that are exempted from fasting.
According to Sheikh Khalid, “a woman in her monthly flow, a sick person, a traveller, an aged person, someone who is under terminal illness and people doing tedious work that will not permit him or her to fast,” are not compelled to fast during Ramadan.
However, he said some of the aforementioned people are mandated to repay their fast when they deem convenient.
Some of them will have to repay after the month of Ramadan. Those that will repay are women on their menstrual flow and women under postnatal bleeding. Also, travellers will repay; someone who is sick and not those with terminal diseases. The rest, including nursing mothers and pregnant women, are not expected to repay,” said the cleric.
On whether children should be compelled to fast, Sheikh Khalid said they can only do so voluntarily.
The cleric said: “They are encouraged to fast. But it is voluntary. If they show they cannot fast, they should not be forced to do it. That is what we seem to do in this part of the world.
“For instance, on Monday, I saw my neighbour’s child who was frowning his face. I asked what was wrong with him, and he told me that he was forced to fast. This should not be the case. Although it is good for them to fast, they must not be compelled to do so.”
Speaking to Pulse on the matter, Ustaz Kabir Sulaimon of the Nasirullah Arabiq Centre, Lagos, said Islam mandated children to fast only after they have attained puberty.
“They are not expected to fast until puberty. But parents shouldn’t discourage their children who want to willingly fast because Allah will record it as a good deed for them,” Ustaz Kabir said.