Ramadan and supporting Muslim children during Ramadan
Ramadan is observed by Muslims all over the world and is considered holy to devote themselves to their faith and come closer to God. It is observed in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan is also a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds, and spending time with family and friends. It is believed that the Angel Gabriel revealed Quran to Prophet Muhammad during this month. Ramadan last for around thirty days and Eid al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of this month at the sight of the first new moon in the sky.
There are a number of things that can be done to support children during Ramadan.
Respect the wishes to fast and support their individual choice. In terms of supporting Muslim children, especially Muslim children in non-Muslim homes, adults and other children can be mindful, encouraging, and supportive of fasting children.
Children and Young People may wish to try fasting for one or more days. Find out the individual expectations and support without judgment. It is a huge achievement to complete Ramadan and children feel proud of this. Support them and speak positively about Ramadan as this is an opportunity to boost both their religious and cultural identity.
Fasting is one of the 5 ‘pillars’ of Islam. It is expected all able Muslims above the age of adolescence should fast during the month of Ramadan. Children and young people can decide if they want to observe the fast or not.
Ask about their Family Traditions
It is essential to ask about the children’s preferences for Ramadan celebrations. In order to make the child feel more comfortable and happy, ask the child or young person about his family’s Ramadan traditions and find out if there is any tradition that the child or young person would like to continue and if there is a new tradition they want to start following.
Understand the Fast
Fasting is one of the 5 ‘pillars’ of Islam. It is expected all able Muslims above the age of adolescence should fast during the month of Ramadan. Children and young people can decide if they want to observe the fast or not. The fast is a dry fast where people observing are not allowed to eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset.
A special consideration should be given to the dietary need of the child and young person observing the fast. Provide a meal of the child/young person’s choice once their fast is broken. This meal needs to be high in protein, carbs, fats and dairy so to ensure the young person is still receiving the recommended daily nutrients, to take them through the fasting period. Make sure to provide fresh dates for a child or young person to break their fast. Healthy and rich in energy food should also be provided to them before they start the fast in the morning.
The child or young person should be supported by providing them with a Quran and a prayer mat. They may also wish to pray in a mosque, so they should be assisted in locating their nearest mosque. Children living in non-Muslim households can be connected with other Muslim families and children so that they do not feel isolated during this spiritual time.