At the young age of 10, Waseem Albaba of Elkhart is not required to fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

But he chooses to do it anyway because he is not too young to feel the spiritual elevation that comes when he focuses on Allah instead of the needs of his body.

“It makes me feel good inside,” he says of the daylong denial of food and water his parents allow him on weekends. “It’s better than eating.”

Waseem and his sister Sara, 14, sit with their mother Saturday in the downstairs social hall at the Al Noor Mosque in South Bend. It’s almost 10 p.m. and Imam Mohammad Sirajuddin, of the Islamic Society of Michiana, is leading congregants in a recitation of a section of the Quran and Ramadan prayers. The praying, which will continue for another 20 minutes or so, is heard through speakers downstairs.

Waseem’s mother, Safa, says all her children are devout. Her youngest son, 8-year-old Tarek, has started fasting this year in short stretches. Her oldest children, Sara and 16-year-old Kareem, began fasting at a young age of their own accord.

Sara insists it’s not difficult, especially if people keep busy during the day. Plus, “It’s a holy month and God makes it easy on us,” she says.


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