“Is it necessary to fast?”
“You’re not supposed to have water too?”
We’ve all been faced with these questions by some people around us, especially our children when they are introduced to the Ramadan for the first time.
This article will help you understand how to handle these questions and give you tips on how to explain everything about Ramadan to your kids.
The Meaning of Ramadan
The holy months of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. As the Islamic calendar is lunar, Ramadan falls on a different date each year- whenever the first fragment of the crescent moon, in the ninth month, is sighted. Ramadan is significant because it was during this month that the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
During Ramadan, Muslims go to the mosque for additional evening prayers known as Salat El Taraweeh, give charity to the poor and try to complete reciting the entire Quran. Ramadan is also the month in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
Who Celebrates Ramadan?
Muslims all over the world celebrate Ramadan.
What Do Muslims Do During Ramadan?
During this month, Muslims fast, which means they do not eat or drink anything from the break of dawn to sunset. Some people are exempt from fasting; those who are ill, old, travelling, as well as women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating. Those who aren’t healthy enough to fast need not fast either.
But Ramadan is not only about not eating or drinking during a fast. Muslims are urged to read the Quran, pray and self-reflect, be more charitable, and spend time with family. It is a month of soul cleansing and repentance as well.
Why Do Muslims Fast During Ramadan?
The reason Muslims fast is because by doing so and giving the stomach a rest, it is regarded as a method of purifying the body, mind and soul. The energy saved can then be used for prayers and self-reflection on one’s actions. Fasting is to help make one stronger, to understand others and to reduce all distractions in life to focus on your relationship with Allah. It is believed that cutting oneself off from worldly comforts helps one to sympathize with those who are poor and hungry.
What Do Muslims Do at the End of Ramadan?
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Fitr or Eid which symbolizes the ‘breaking of the fast’. On this day, Muslims wake up early in the morning and go for Eid prayers in open spaces, give a special charity to the poor called Zakat El Fitr the night before, exchange gifts and spend time with friends and family.
How Ramadan Fasting Is Observed
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating food, drinking liquids, smoking cigarettes, and engaging in sexual activity, from sunrise to sunset. This also includes taking any medication without water and chewing gum is also prohibited.
Doing any of the above activities invalidates your fast for the day, and you have to start over the next day. To compensate for the days you didn’t fast, you can either fast in a later part of the year or give a meal to a needy person for each day you may have missed.
Muslims are also encouraged to curb negative thoughts and emotions during Ramadan. Some people opt to give up certain activities, like watching television or listening to music in an attempt to give up worldly pleasures and distractions so that they may remain focused on prayers and self-reflection, being kind and charitable to others and general soul cleansing and repentance.
What is Suhoor?
During Ramadan, Suhoor is the most important meal of the day and is eaten before sunrise. Fasting all day is not easy as the body needs the stamina to continue a long day of work and other responsibilities. This meal comprises of various nutritious and healthy delicacies which help sustain one throughout the day. It contains foods that are easy to digest and is supposed to make you feel satiated and keeping nausea and weakness at bay. It prepares one for the day ahead. Suhoor has to be strictly finished before sunrise, when muslims pray Salat El Fajir.
How Can I Introduce My Children to Fasting?
When you explain the importance of Ramadan to your children, start by suggesting that they give up certain things like watching TV during this holy month. However, let the decision eventually come from them.
Some parents start their kids off by fasting for half a day. This can either be meals without snacks in between or having them fast from sunrise to lunchtime. Keeping them occupied is essential to get them through. You can do this while getting them to learn about Ramadan. Encourage them to create their progress chart or help you in making traditional treats for the family to break the fast at dusk. Incentives are also helpful in motivating them to fast.
Ramadan Activities and Recipes for Kids
Here are some fun Ramadan activities for kids that are great to create items for yourselves or to gift to your friends and family!
- Moon Sighting Binoculars
Since Ramadan and Eid are based on moon sightings, why not have fun and observe how the moon’s shape changes every day? Fashion a pair of moon sighting binoculars with some tissue paper rolls and felt, and your kids are ready for some moon-gazing sessions! Alternately, using a telescope or an actual pair of binoculars might prove to be a more educational session.
- Origami Eid Necklace
If you love origami, use your skills to create a pretty necklace which is apt for a handmade Eid gift.
- Eid Card
All you need is card paper, some felt, and glittery stickers. The perfect gift to hand out on Eid.
Here are some easy Ramadan recipes for kids:
- Classic Chickpea Salad
This is the easiest chickpea salad ever! Store-bought boiled chickpeas or pressure-cooked ones (drained) + pickled beets or cucumber (finely diced) + salad dressing (1 tsp vinegar + hot chili sauce + salt). Mix them all up and voila!
- Chocolate Dipped Dates
Simply melt some chocolates, fill the dates with some dry fruit paste and dip them into the hot chocolate. Scrumptious and energy-boosting snack!
- Bread Pudding with Crème Caramel
This is a very easy recipe where you have to arrange the bread and add some crème caramel till the bread slices are completely soaked. Refrigerate till it sets and then proceed to decorate it!
Ramadan is a topic that needs to be spoken about to a child when he/she is old enough to understand its significance. Talk about your childhood experiences and memories of Ramadan- the foods, the prayers and the time spent with family. Your children will love to hear you out and share in all the excitement of this holy month!