For children, one of the most striking aspects of Ramadan is fasting, with Muslims abstaining from all food and drink from dawn to dusk. While children who have grown up in the country might consider the practice and all it entails the norm, those new to the city can find it all very surprising.
If your children are experiencing their first Ramadan in the Middle East, try and get them involved. After all, everyone can learn something from this Holy Month.
Tolerance and understanding
Ask your children to be more patient with Muslim friends who are observing the fast. Fasting actually gives Muslims more time to reflect, do good and empathise with those less fortunate, so make sure they support their peers and not tempt them by talking about the delicious cake you’ve packed in their lunch box. Make sure they embrace it all and accept friends’ invitations to iftars and Eid celebrations; the whole experience will give your kids a real insight into Arabic culture and Islamic traditions.
Making time for the ones you love
People in Dubai tend to spend more time with their families during Ramadan, with Muslims always making sure they are home well in time for iftar. Take advantage of the shorter working days to do the same with yours – it’s a time to celebrate close bonds, and it’s the perfect opportunity to teach your children the importance of spending time with family. If you don’t have any family in town, invite some of your friends around for a meal.
Take this time to explain the plight of those less fortunate and talk about world hunger and poverty with your children and hope the message of compassion rings loud, but why not ask them to fast for at least one day this Ramadan, even if it’s for half a day after school? It will make them thankful for all that they have and instill a sense of understanding of what the less fortunate children around the world go through.
Nine-year-old Reem Al Mannaei tells us about her first fast:
My mother says that Ramadan is not only a time for fasting but it is also a time for praying. We must make sure we fast and pray throughout this holy month. The first time I fasted, I was very happy I was able to participate in the Holy Month with my family and friends. Though it was a bit difficult in school as we had to concentrate on studies too, I was able to keep up my fast for the entire month. I truly enjoy taking part in Ramadan. I especially love the Arabic sweets my mother makes.
17-year-old Margaret Cowart is looking forward to experiencing her first Ramadan in Dubai:
I moved to Dubai about a year ago and am now able to experience Ramadan in the Middle East for the very first time. I feel it is a beautiful time when Muslims reflect, believe and worship Allah. The Holy Month of Ramadan not only teaches Muslims to learn patience, humility and spirituality through fasting, but will also help me become more culturally aware and respectful towards my Muslim friends fasting during this Holy Month.
I have been invited to my friend’s home to experience iftar (breaking of the fast) with their family and I am truly looking forward to my first iftar.
Delice Scotto, Principal of Al-Mizhar American Academy for Girls, talks about how the Holy Month is observed in the school:
I moved to the Middle East in 1991 and have been able to share in the festivities of Ramadan with many colleagues and friends over the years. I believe the world has integrated massively and there is a welcoming of different cultures and religions.
At Al-Mizhar American Academy we teach our girls to understand and embrace the differences in cultures and backgrounds. Our Islamic classes help teach our pupils the importance of values, fasting and praying. We also make sure that all our non-Muslim students gain a better understanding of Ramadan and are sensitive to their peers who are fasting during this Holy Month.
Every year, we have an iftar evening for all the students and their families, which is always very well attended. Enforcing family values and being able to share in the Holy Month with family and friends is what we encourage.
This year with Eid falling at the end of the school year, we will be inviting our parents and students to join us for the Eid Al ‘Adha celebrations as well.