Ramadan Mubarak! (Happy Ramadan!)
The month of Ramadan began this year on the evening of Wednesday, May 16th. Ramadan is a holy month (following the Islamic calendar) that is of special importance to most Muslim people around the world; it is a month focused on reflection, meditation and prayer, and service to those less privileged and those in need. The observance of Ramadan also requires daily fasting from dawn until dusk for the entirety of the month. Depending on how orthodox the family is, students as young as ten or twelve can be expected to fast for the month.
This can be an especially trying time for Muslim students and teachers who observe Ramadan in the United States, as for most, school is still in session for all or part of the month, and indeed frequently it lands during the same time as finals for older students. For non-Muslim school administrators, teachers, and peers, it is important to be aware of this holy month, and responsive to the challenges their students and friends may be facing.
To that end, there are a number of fantastic resources. For slightly older kids (around 4th grade or older), there is a fantastic short video from Mobily that gives a wonderful, brief overview of the holiday for non-Muslims. For younger kids, however, one of my favorites is the book Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story. The book is beautifully simple and easy to read, but touches on what can be some of the hardest parts of observing Ramadan for young Muslim kids, like watching your friends eat lunch when you know you’re not supposed to, or speaking to your teacher about it.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to learn about Ramadan (or teach your kids about it), is to visit your local mosque, and speak with the Imam. Of course you should always check their website to make sure that you aren’t going to be interrupting prayer or other functions, but most Imams will be more than happy to explain the holiday, it observance, and the best ways to support and celebrate Muslim folks in your life.
So cheers, friends, and Ramadan Mubarak!