Right now, most of the Muslim world is about a third of the way thorough Ramadan, the month-long period of fasting and prayer that is one of the religion’s most important practices. Ramadan began on June 28th this year, and for one month devout Muslims will abstain from food and drink during the daylight hours, eating only before the sun rises or after it sets.
Ramadan is believed to be the period of time when the Koran was revealed to Mohammed, so it’s a time of prayer, reflection and good works. Ramadan is also the perfect time to for non-Muslim families to learn more about the beliefs and culture of Islam.
You can teach your children a lot about the culture and traditions of Islam through two great books we love–Mary Pope Osborne (yes, THAT Mary Pope Osborne)’s great “One World, Many Religions” and “Rashad’s Ramadan.”
Engage your kids in the idea of Ramadan through food. It’s traditional to break the daily fast by eating dates, a fruit many kids have never tried, and a simple and delicious way to introduce a new culture. Dates can be found in most “ethnic” markets and often in large grocery stores. (Kids especially love dates when they get to dip them in honey first.) Let your kids stay up till the sun goes down to try this delicious tradition.
Many Muslim families also have special traditions to engage their children in Ramadan, which might involve special books, treats or crafts. We like this simple mobile made of a moon and stars, the traditional symbols of Ramadan.
Since Ramadan is on a lunar schedule (beginning and ending according to the cycle of the moon), Ramadan is also a great time to introduce your kids to stargazing. Many Muslim parents take their kids out to the park to teach about the moon, constellations and the lunar cycle itself. We plan on getting lots of use out of our telescope during this month.
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