Introducing the topic of Ramadan to Muslim and non-Muslim children can seem daunting. There’s a lot of information to process and it can sometimes be confusing to understand all of it, so we’ve put together a Ramadan for kids guide that contains all the most important information in an easy-to-understand format.
What is Ramadan for Kids?
Muslim children do not fast during Ramadan until they reach the age of puberty, but preparing them for the event and ensuring they understand it is essential. Likewise, it’s useful for non-Muslim children to understand what Ramadan is and why their Islamic peers partake in it. That’s why we’ve curated our Ramadan kids guide, to help younger people grasp what Ramadan is, how it’s observed, why it’s observed and what the rules are.
For many children, it’s easier to take information in when it’s in short snippets, and that’s why we’ve prepared our guide in a Ramadan facts for kids format, so they can refer back to a specific question and get the answer in a short, readable format.
We hope this guide provides educators, parents and guardians with everything they need to introduce the subject of Ramadan to children.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the name of the Islamic holy month. It is believed that this month was when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was first shown the Qur’an (the Islamic religious text/book) by the angel Gabriel. It is standard for Muslims to fast during this month.
When is Ramadan?
Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic year. Muslims use the lunar cycle as the basis of their calendar which follows the cycles of the moon. This makes the Islamic calendar approximately 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar (which follows the solar cycles) used across most of the world, and that means the date of Ramadan changes every year.
Although the exact date of Ramadan changes, Muslims know when Ramadan is because the first glimpse of a crescent moon indicates that a new month has begun. When the ninth crescent moon appears in the sky above Mecca (the Islamic holy city), Muslims know it is Ramadan. They know Ramadan is over when the 10th crescent moon is seen above Mecca.
How is Ramadan Observed?
Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting for one month. This means they only eat and drink before the sun has risen and after the sun has set. As well as not eating during the day, Muslims must also not lie, argue or fight during Ramadan. In addition to fasting, Muslims read the Qur’an and pray to Allah (SWT) to strengthen their bond with him and become better Muslims.
Ramadan is a time to be extra kind and generous, and that’s why Muslims do “Sadaqah” which means “good deeds”. Those good deeds can be anything, from helping an old person or litter picking, all the way to giving away clothes, food and money to those who don’t have any.
At the end of Ramadan, every Muslim – no matter how old they are – must make a charitable donate called Fitrana. If a child can’t pay, the head of their household should pay on their behalf. This donation is used to buy food for those who do not have any.
Why is Ramadan Observed?
The religion of Islam is made up of five core principles that all Muslims must follow, and one of those principles is called ‘Sawm’ which means ‘to fast’. As this is one of the five core values, all Muslims must do it, and that’s why Ramadan is observed.
They fast because it makes them realise how lucky they are to have easy access to food and to remind them that not everyone in the world is so lucky. This makes them more compassionate and empathetic of those who are less fortunate than them.
Muslims also observe Ramadan to strengthen their bond with God and to purify their minds, body’s, and souls.
What are the Rules of Fasting?
The biggest part of Ramadan is that Muslims must fast, and there are a few rules around who should do it and how it’s done.
People who don’t have to fast are:
- Children who haven’t undergone puberty (aged 12 years and under)
- Elderly people who are frail
- People who are sick and on medication from the doctor
- People who are travelling around
- Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who are on their period
If a Muslim can’t fast during Ramadan, they should try and fast at a different time of the year instead. If they can’t fast at all, they should pay Fidya which is a donation made to charity to feed people who are hungry and who don’t have any food.
Everyone else should fast during the day, and that means no eating or drinking (not even water) for as long as the sun is up.
The first meal before the sun has risen is a bit like breakfast (only it’s eaten earlier) and is called Suhoor. Lots of Muslims eat foods that release energy slowly – usually breakfast foods.
The meal that is eaten after the sun has set is called Iftar and is just like a normal dinner.
Before Suhoor and Iftar, it’s traditional to eat dates first because this is what the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did. It’s also traditional to drink a lot of water to keep hydrated and healthy throughout the day.
What Happens if the Fast is Broken?
If a Muslim breaks the fast and they don’t have a valid reason to do so (such as being poorly), they have to pay Kaffarah. They can pay it in two ways:
- Fast for an extra 60 consecutive days
- Make a charitable donation that is enough to feed 60 hungry people for 60 days
The End of Ramadan
After the 10th crescent moon has been seen above Mecca, Ramadan is officially over. To celebrate the end of fasting, the three-day Eid ul-Fitr celebrations begin. They are almost similar to Christmas celebrations in the sense that everyone wears their best clothes, eats lots of food, spends lots of time with family and friends, and children receive presents. There is a lot of praying and people say “Eid Mubarak” to each other, which means “Happy Eid” or “Have a blessed Eid”.
Muslims are not allowed to fast during Eid, so if they have broken their fast, they have to make up the days at a different time.