As the blessed month of Ramadhan envelops our lives, our children feel the dynamic of our households changing. Their parents are no longer gathering around the table, eating breakfast with them; they are dedicating more hours to worship and are often more tired than usual!
As young children, seeing our siblings and parents fast, we wanted nothing more than to be part of the fasting crew. We begged our parents to wake us up in the early hours so that we too could experience the pre-dawn meal, and then to gather excitedly with the family to have an iftar feast. But, as the days lengthen and the warmer weather settles in, we are often torn when our young plead with us to fast too. On the one hand, we want them to experience and understand the gift of fasting and the auspicious month of Ramadhan. However, we also worry about their well-being, and how they will manage. And so originated the ‘half fast’; an opportunity for to experience this pillar of Islam, but with the option to end it when we wish.
A brave 6-year-old who has joined us fasting this year is six-year old Layla. Layla is a creative girl with a competitive streak. She is a go-getter who enjoys horse riding. You will often find her among her toys in her playroom – the playroom that was originally intended to be her father’s chill room, that was until Layla decided to take it over!
Layla began by taking part in a half fast this year but then soon decided to up her game. Layla is not fasting only to please Allah and join her family in doing good deeds this Ramadhan. She is fasting to raise funds for HHUGS, the only charity internationally of its kind. Layla struggled with her first full fast, and almost gave up with two hours to go. Yet Layla persevered. She has kept two full fasts now and is determined to do more to help children similar aged to her feel hope and happiness this Ramadhan. Children who gather for iftar, with the absence of one parent. Children, whose mothers fret over how to provide them a decent meal for iftar. Children who cannot taste the delight of Eid, sobbing themselves to sleep as they recall distant memories of the father they once hugged so tightly.
Layla has always been inspired to help fundraise for others. Just as she watched her family fast and wanted too to join them, she has similarly witnessed them fundraise with their Cake Campaign for HHUGS throughout the years, and was equally keen to get involved. This year, with children off school and stuck at home, her parents decided it would be the ideal time to get Layla involved. They suggested that she fast a full fast whilst raising funds for HHUGS families. Layla didn’t need a word more of encouragement, she had been dying to get stuck in, and this was her chance. She accepted the challenge and began to fast for children less fortunate than her.
Layla’s father discusses the importance of getting Layla involved in raising funds for charity from a young age. “I need to get her involved from a young age so she builds a passion for it. Alhamdulillah she enjoys getting involved already so I would like for her to build on that and continue even bigger and better. She knows she has been blessed with many luxuries, and I want her to understand that even more so and want to give, so people can have some sort of a share in that with her, so she can be grateful for what she has, and want others to have the same as her.”
Layla’s competitive streak alongside her caring nature, means she is often pushing for more donations to help HHUGS households this Ramadhan. Her father further talks about how Layla understands how she will be rewarded for helping others. “She really does love the competitive edge, and she always looking to push for more donations. She often talks about what the donations can do, mostly she says toys and food for the kids. She also has the understanding that she will get so much more back from Allah in return and that excites her more.”
Layla has received lots of support from her friends and family as she is a favourite amongst many. Her family keep her motivated by reminding her how brave and strong she is. She is reminded of why she is fasting and of the work that HHUGS do.
Layla’s family decided to fundraise for HHUGS as they believe in the work that HHUGS do. They have supported HHUGS since 2017 when they were introduced to the charity by another fundraiser and have continued ever since.
Her father talks of how Layla empathises with the children in shattered homes. “I sat and spoke with Layla two days ago in more detail about what HHUGS do and she was really touched when she realised how some of the children are separated from their parents and how that would feel for her. The fact that some of these families receive no other support is reason enough alone to support HHUGS in what they do.”
All members of Layla’s family like to get involved in fundraising. Inspired by her sister, Layla’s four-year-old sister Maryam, has kept a half fast in aid of HHUGS, and has successfully raise funds. Layla’s father talks about the benefit of fundraising collectively, “I pray we can continue to fundraise as a family and better ourselves and others. It’s a great thing for us to do as a family together and an activity that brings about so much benefit.”
Layla’s perseverance and determination is an inspirational reminder to us all. That we too, from the safety of our own homes can help families isolated and struggling this Ramadhan. Layla’s family have taught us the importance of helping others, both individually and collectively; how we can work together, whatever our age, with our children, siblings, parents and friends alike to make a difference. This helps keep us motivated and driven to increase our donations. As we draw closer to the end of Ramadhan, we aim to push hard to increase our rewards and maximise on these last 10 nights. This Ramadhan be a star like Layla, and make a difference. You can do this by supporting her efforts in the best part of the month – its final days. Today is the 26th Ramadhan but we have reached only 38% of our target. We still have a long way to go to ensure families are able to survive for the months ahead. Your support and donations, no matter how large or little, has a direct impact on these families; those on the fringe, those most marginalised and isolated during the pandemic. They face uncertainty, financial instability, and loneliness that weigh them down daily. With Eid around the corner, they too deserve a day where they can feel joy and delight.
Six-year old Layla and her family are doing their bit this Ramadhan. They deeply feel the urgency of HHUGS work and are striving hard to make a change in whatever way they can. Do not miss out on seizing opportunities for reward, as the days of Ramadhan slip past. Layla, just six years old, has played her part. The question to ask ourselves, in these final days and nights, is have we fulfiled ours?
Encourage her by supporting her efforts here: https://www.hhugs.org.uk/campaign/race-to-jannah/usmanrazailyas/