Can a 16 year old fast - Dialogue with the Islamic World

In the heat of Ramadan: When children and young people fast


Should children and young people also fast in Ramadan? Not drinking even when the sun is beating? Doctors warn of nausea and circulatory collapse. Islamic associations say: no compulsion, do not exaggerate. By Yuriko Wahl-Immel

Benedict is surprised. He and his friends darted through the amusement park near Cologne for hours, everyone ate french fries, sweets - and above all lots of ice cream on the hot day. Just one not. “It's awesome, Dogan hasn't eaten or even drunk anything. He fasts. The rest of us found it hard, ”says the 15-year-old after the excursion. “Somehow I have the greatest respect for it. But to be honest, I don't know what this is good for. That is definitely not healthy. "

If it were up to the professional association of paediatricians, abstaining from eating and drinking all day should be taboo for adolescents. "Fasting damages the health of children and adolescents," says the head of the association, Wolfram Hartmann, and names consequences such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and circulatory collapse.

During Lent, Muslims should refrain from eating and drinking from daybreak to sunset. Since Ramadan this time - from June 18 to July 16 - falls on long summer days with high temperatures, the risks are particularly great.

"In children, the percentage of water in their body weight is very high, so they have to drink enough regularly throughout the day," says Hartmann. They could not store fluids well.

Ramadan is an important time, emphasizes Aiman ​​Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims. "This month the Muslim experiences spiritual purification." The fasting requirement applies from puberty. However, since children often wanted to join in the fasting, some parents negotiated a compromise with them, such as avoiding the weekend.

Important: "The physical integrity is a religious imperative and still stands above fasting."

The Turkish-Islamic Union Ditib emphasizes: "Islamic teaching, but also tradition, does not provide for fasting for children." Zekeriya Altug, head of the external relations department, says: "Sometimes children want to emulate adults and absolutely want to fast too." Some parents allowed this, but not all day. Usually there is something to eat and drink at lunchtime. Adolescents could physically get through the fast and are encouraged to do so. The following always applies: "A compulsion to fast cannot and must not be exercised by outsiders."

Lamya Kaddor, who gives Islamic religious instruction in Dinslaken in North Rhine-Westphalia, says: "As soon as one of my students has an acute headache, complains of dizziness or thinks they can no longer grasp it, I say:" stop, stop fasting immediately ". There are also some fifth graders, that is, eleven-year-olds. " The founder of the Liberal-Islamic Association makes it clear: «Islam is not a rigid religion. But some Muslims do not know this and make it difficult for themselves and their children. " There are clear exceptions. "Anyone who is sick or threatens to get sick should not fast."

Islam expert Kaddor advises introducing the next generation to the topic without pressure. "For example, you could arrange two hours a day in which children practice doing without, depending on their age." Kaddor estimates that 60 to 70 percent of Muslim adolescents in Germany fast along - also because of the sense of belonging and community. “A clearly visible group is not fasting and that is totally fine. That is up to personal discretion. " She fasts herself.

Nevertheless, it is sometimes exaggerated in the case of minors, doctors describe: "Most of our colleagues have already had negative experiences when children and adolescents fast," says youth medicine specialist Hartmann. Pediatricians have been dealing with the problem for many years. He appeals to parents to give their children at least small amounts of food and drink because of the urge to move around during the day. And: "Use Ramadan to switch from soda, fruit juice drinks, iced tea and cola to healthy water." (dpa)

More about Ramadan at