Ramadan (Muslim festival)
To understand that Ramadan is a special time for Muslims and to think about what is important in life.
by Caroline Donne
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
Date varies from year to year - please check the REonline Festivals Calendar.
- To understand that Ramadan is a special time for Muslims.
- To think about what is important in life.
Ramadan is the fourth of the ‘five pillars’ of Islam, the five requirements of being a Muslim. They are called ‘pillars’ because they support the Muslim way of life. Ramadan is marked by a fast, which lasts for the ninth month of the lunar year. It marks the time when Muslims believe their holy book, the Qur’an, was revealed to them by the Prophet Muhammad.
Preparation and materials
- A bowl of dates and a glass of milk
- An empty bowl and glass
- Display a collection of books or posters on Islam from your local RE Resource Centre (details of your local RE Centre can be found on the RE Directory website: www.theredirectory.org.uk).
- Ask everyone to think about a month which is important for them, e.g. the month in which their birthday falls, a month in which they go on holiday, a month when they have exams, the month when a school holiday falls. Go on to explain that now is a special month for Muslims. During this month they get up very early, before the sun rises, and eat a large breakfast. They do not eat or drink again until the sun has set and it is dark. It's a long time to go without food or drink, from before dawn until sunset. Think about what it would be like – or what it is like for local Muslims, perhaps at your school. This time is known as Ramadan, and going without food or drink is known as fasting.
Explain the reasons why Muslims fast during Ramadan. By going without food and drink they remember that there are more important things in life than the needs of their bodies. Being faithful to God, or Allah as they call him, and obeying God’s words are the most important things in life, so during the month of Ramadan Muslims spend more time reading from the holy book, the Qur’an, and speaking to God in prayer.
Think about what is important in your life. Is food and drink the most important thing to you? Are the things you possess, like your toys or your clothes, the most important things to you?
When the sun goes down it’s time to eat and drink again. Very often Muslims will break the fast by eating a few dates and drinking milk or water before they have a large family meal together.
It’s not easy to fast, so young children, elderly people, pregnant women and people who are sick don’t have to, until they are older or are feeling stronger. Everyone else tries to make the effort.
Going without food or drink during the daylight hours is also important in other ways. It’s a hard thing to do and so it helps Muslims to be able to cope with the times in their lives when hard or difficult things happen.
Feeling hungry and thirsty also helps them to understand what it is like for people in the world who do not have enough to eat or drink all the time, and so they set aside money to give to the poor. The amount they set aside equals the cost of a meal for each person in the family. So if there are five people in the family, they will give away the cost of a meal for five people. What amount might you give away in your family?
How might Muslims feel at Ramadan? Perhaps you could ask Muslim children to describe what it’s like to keep the fast of Ramadan or other children who fast as part of their tradition.
One of the things that makes fasting easier is that it’s a time when Muslims feel closer to one another because they know that Muslims all over the world are going through the same experiences.
At the end of the month they have a party to celebrate. It’s called the Festival of Breaking the Fast (Eid-ul-Fitr) and it’s a time of great happiness and thanksgiving to God.
Time for reflection
Take time now to think or to pray about what you’ve heard. You could use these words as a focus for the reflection.
Muslims at this time of year think about what is important to them. Think about what is worthwhile in your life. What gives your life meaning? What is important to you?
As Muslims think about people who do not have enough food to eat or drink, we pray for those people around the world who are hungry and thirsty all the time, because there is not enough food for them to eat or clean water to drink.
Encourage students to say their own quiet prayers of thanks for having enough food to eat and safe, clean water to drink.