Muslim parents are urged to lead by example to encourage their children to fast during Ramadhan, said an officer from the Islamic Dakwah Centre.
Ustaz Hisham Ismail said that parents should set a good example in front of their children. "It is absolutely necessary to understand that before you expect your child to learn the ways of Islam, the parents have to be practicing Muslims themselves," he said.
Speaking with The Brunei Times recently, Ustaz Hisham Ismail said that parents play a vital role in encouraging their children to fast.
"Parents are like a mirror, the reflection it gives, the child adopts. If the reflection is good, the child is good. If the reflection is bad, the child may turn out bad," said Ustaz Hisham.
He said while every parent wishes their children to be pious and have excellent character, this could only be achieved if the correct method towards this goal is adopted and the right environment were created from the very beginning.
He added that while it may be challenging for parents to train children to fast, it can be done if parents pay close attention to their children's constitution and eating habits.
According to Ustaz Hisham, the recommended age in Islam for a child to start fasting is at the age of 7. He advised parents to be gradual in initiating their children into the month of fasting.
"A gradual approach is the best way to help children understand the importance of fasting," he said, adding that children are not required to fast during Ramadhan before the onset of puberty.
"However, some parents may encourage them to fast for a few days so they can mentally and physically get accustomed to the discipline and grow up knowing the values of the worship of fasting."
As they are young and getting accustomed to this discipline, it is important that the children be taught the correct way to do so, especially when Ramadhan occurs during the hotter months.
"In the beginning, children below 10-years-old can be encouraged to fast until 10 am. Then the period of fasting can be extended to the time of the noon prayer, and then until the time of the evening prayer," he suggested.
Ustaz Hisham also reminded Muslims not to promote waste especially as households, restaurants and hotels tend to prepare more food than is consumed during the holy month.
"Unfortunately, a large portion of this food usually ends up in landfill. And despite the constant calls from authorities to cut down on food wastage during Ramadhan, the amount of dumped food is still enormous," he said.
"Knowing our culture, Bruneians tend to indulge in buffet spreads and eat-all-you-can deals, but we as Muslims must remember not to waste," added Ustaz Hisham, noting that Prophet Muhammad encourages not to eat before one is hungry, and to stop eating before one is full.
He said that the true meaning of fasting is to experience hunger, to feel humility and compassion towards the poor.
"The holy month comes every year to remind us of the many people around the world who don't have enough food, as Bruneians blessed with food on the table, we must take note of what this month is all about and give charity when we still can," said Ustaz Hisham.