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Ramadan activities for kids

Ramadan activities for kids

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Published by: Suzzana on Sep 02, 2008
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Ramadan activities for kids, parents and teachers
 
What is Ramadan?
 Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, preceded by the month of Sha
aban and succeeded by the month of Shawwal. Ramadan is the Holy Month for Muslims, when those twelve years old and above observe a dawn to dusk complete fast.They do not take any liquids (not even any water), no food, abstain from smoking,marital relations, and gossiping or saying anything malicious against another person.Some of the most pious and strict Muslims even manage to stop swallowing their ownsaliva during the fasting hours of Ramadan, but this isn
t actually a requirement under observance of Ramadan, one of The Five Pillars of Islam, which are:Observing Sawm (complete fasting) during the Holy month of RamadanPayment of Zakat (alms tax) during RamadanPerforming the Hajj in Mecca at least once in a lifetimeReciting the Shahadah (profession of faith)Performing Salah (ritual prayers, five times a day)The Muslim calendar is a Lunar Calendar, which means that the month follows the cyclesof the moon. This also means that by comparison to the western calendar, the month of Ramadan will be approximately 11 days earlier in the year compared to the previous year.For example, in 2007 Ramadan for Muslims in North America started on 12th October, but this year (2008) it will commence on 1st September. If you
re in the Middle or Far East, it will start on 2nd September. It lasts for 29 or 30 days, depending on the month inwhich it starts.While the above dates are almost certainly going to be accurate, Islam traditionallyrequires that the new moon be sighted by a person appointed by the Islamic authorities inthe country where you
re located.
Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
 The first reason of course, is that fasting is a requirement of one of the Five Pillars of Islam. What is important, however, is to appreciate the reasons behind the fasting, whatthose reasons signify and what this means to fasting Muslims.It is most important to a Muslim to show intent in the fast. It is required that they reciteshort prayer of intent either before they sleep or just before Suhoor, the pre-fast meal.The Arabic word for fasting means to
refrain
, to discipline yourself to avoid doingcertain things which would be quite normal during the other twelve months of the year. Itis also meant to teach Muslims to appreciate how much better off they are than millionsof other fellow Muslims. So by refraining from drinking (even water) and food, for thelong daylight hours, they should be reminded of those much less fortunate, for whomsevere shortage of water and food is a way of life, not something merely done one month
 
of the year. By reminding themselves of this fact, it is hoped that not only will they bemore sensitive to those less fortunate, but to try to do something practical to help them.
Do Muslims eat and drink immediately before they start their daily fast?
 Yes, most Muslims certainly do take a pre-fast meal and the period of eating before thefast is called Suhoor. This is an important meal, for it must set them up for the rest of theday, often 12 or 13 hours before their next meal or drink. A few choose to go to bedslightly later than usual and take a meal and drink before they sleep. While this isn
tideal, and is even frowned upon by more traditional Muslims, for some it does mean thatthey sleep longer and can cope more easily with the fast of the day to come.
What happens every day when Muslims break their fast?
 As daylight begins to fade, Muslims await the Muezzin
s call to perform the Maghrib prayers. Once the call is heard, and the Maghrib prayers are performed, they may break fast (called Iftaar in Arabic). (You can see here too the origin of the word
 breakfast
,which literally meant to break the fast during the night, after having eaten the last mealthe day before).Most will first take some form of thirst-quenching drink, and this varies not only byindividual preferences, but also but local customs. It is quite common in the Middle Eastto break fast with water and dates, but in Malaysia it is more common to drink a localfruit juice, sugar cane juice or rose syrup water, with either dates or kway (small, sweetcakes or pastry). Some prefer to drink soya bean milk not only as a thirst quencher, butalso for its extra protein value.Upon breaking fast, most very strict Muslims, will merely take a few fresh dates, or drieddates if fresh are not available. If neither is available they will just take a few sips of water.It is common for most families to have their evening meal at home straight after breakingfast, and while the meal should be in keeping with the meanings of Ramadan (in other words not a feast), it has become common in modern cities around the world for Muslimfamilies to go out to eat at a local restaurant, particularly those in a hotel.If during Ramadan you see Muslim families sitting quietly at a restaurant table, with themeal served, but not yet eating, it is because the Maghrib prayers have not yet beencalled, and they cannot yet break fast.
Can younger children fast during Ramadan?
 Indeed they can, and in fact many even as young as four or five, are encouraged to fastfor a few hours a day during Ramadan, to begin to appreciate the significance of the Holymonth. As they get a little older, most families encourage their children under 12 to fastfor half a day, until they reach twelve years old, when all Muslim children are expected to

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