Editor’s note: Islam’s month of Ramadan this year began on August 1st. Our writer has been fasting for the first week and weighs in on what is fair.

Ramadan is a special month in Islam for Muslims. During Ramadan people take fast. They don’t eat or drink anything, and they take special care to avoid the actions Islam forbids. For example, during this holy month Muslims don’t lie, they don’t insult anybody, they don’t fight, and if they do, their fast won’t be accepted.

On Ramadan days I sleep a lot because it’s very hot and the weather is tiring. From sunrise to sundown we don’t eat or drink anything, even water, which can also make you tired. But after sundown every night we have Iftar, the big meal to break our fast. I watch movies during the long, hot days to make the time pass faster and Iftar come sooner.

I like Ramadan because it is a good way of getting away from badness. For a month we try to be as good as we can. But not everything about Ramadan is good. There are some problems we face. For instance, people say that girls should begin to fast when they turn nine. Boys have to fast too, but for them it is a little better. They don’t fast until they are sixteen. I don’t think this is fair for women.

It is not fair because, first, when a girl is nine she is too young to fast. She needs to grow, and to grow she needs food and water. Without nourishment, the growing process faces some serious problems. Second, when a girl is nine she doesn’t have the capacity to truly understand the rules of Ramadan or the reasons behind them. She follows them because someone tells her to and she is too young to ask why.

We have lots of girls who have grown into old women and have no logical explanation for why they do what they do during Ramadan. Why can’t we drink water? Why must girls begin to fast before boys? Why must it be harder for women than men?

These women began taking fast when they were only nine and they didn’t know enough to ask why. The consequence is that today when a little girl asks them why she must take fast, but her brother does not, they don’t know.

We must be understanding with these women. It is not her fault if she can’t answer these difficult questions. These women had to take fast because if they didn’t, people—especially their families—would comment and make trouble for them. I believe fault lies with the old customs and traditions, the ones that make conditions so difficult for women.

When I was nine I didn’t take fast, but I did ask my parents to tell me about Ramadan month. They said Ramadan is a test for humans. We must do these hard things so God can see our devotion. But this seemed foolish to me, because God already knows what kind of humans we are, and it’s silly to test someone you know.

I wonder why it’s necessary for everyone to fast during this holy time, especially if God already knows us. I think some people don’t believe in taking fast, but they do anyway because of pressure from others, a pressure so strong that they don’t have a choice but to do what is expected.

It’s not fair.

Ramadan is a nice month, I think, but only if we take away the awful traditions.

By Fatima H.

AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq