Joined: Nov 2006
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Training children to fast; making them toys of wool to busy them
Narrated by Al-Rubay bint Mu'awwidh: "The Prophet (salallaahu 'alaihiwasallam) sent a messenger to the village of the Ansar in the morning of the day of 'Ashura' (10th of Muharram) to announce: 'Whoever has eaten something should not eat but complete the fast, and whoever is observing the fast should complete it.'
"She further said, "Since then we used to fast on that day regularly and also make our boys fast. We used to make toys of wool for the boys and if anyone of them cried for, he was given those toys till it was the time of the breaking of the fast."
Source: Bukhari (in the Book of Fasting)
Al-Rubay` bint Mu'awwidh (radiallaahu 'anha) said while describing how the Prophet (salallaahu 'alaihiwasallam) told them to fast 'Ash'ura:
"We used to make toys out of dyed wool for the children and keep them with us so if the children asked us for food we would give them the toys to distract them until they completed their fast.
Source: Sahih Muslim. A similar narration is also in Sahih Al-Bukhari.
Al-Nawawi states in his commentary on Sahih Muslim: In this narration we are shown that children should be trained to do acts of obedience and made used to doing worship; although they are not legally bound.
Al-'Uthaimeen: This is what the Companions would do with their children
Question: Should children below the age of fifteen be ordered to fast as in the case with prayer?
Answer (by Imaam Muhammad bin Saalih Al-'Uthaimeen): Yes, children who have not yet reached the age of puberty should be ordered to fast if they are able to do it. This is what the Companions would do with their children.
The scholars have stated that a guardian should order whichever youth he possesses guardianship over to fast so that they could practice it and become attached to it, and so that the foundations of Islaam could become instilled in their souls to the point that it becomes like second-nature to them.
However, they [the children] are not required to fast if doing so will be difficult on them or bring harm to them. I would like to point out here an issue that some fathers or mothers do, and that is preventing their children from fasting, in direct opposition to what the Companions used to do.
They claim that they are preventing their children from fasting out of mercy and compassion for them. But the reality is that mercy for one's children is in ordering them to practice the rites of Islaam and to grow accustomed and attached to them. This without a doubt is from the best and most complete forms of raising and cultivating one's children.
It is authentically reported that the Prophet (salallaahu 'alaihiwasallam) said:
"Verily a man is a guardian for the members of his household and he will be questioned as to his flock." 
That which is required for guardians with respect to those whom Allaah has given them authority over, such as family members and youth, is that they fear Allaah with regard to them and order them with what they were commanded to order them, such as implementing the rites of Islaam.
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no. 2409) and Muslim (no. 1829)
SOURCE: 48 Su'aalan fis-Siyaam (binothaimeen.org)
Subhanak Allaahuma wa bihamdika ash-hadu anlaa illaaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk
If I said anything correct, then it is from Allaah (subhanahu wa taa'ala), and if I erred, then that is from me and shaytan.