Ramadan Mubarak! رمضان مبارك! or Blessed Ramadan!
Cheng & Tsui is happy to share some facts about the month of Ramadan and the cultures surrounding this important Muslim observance. Below we discuss in brief what Ramadan is and how teachers can bring the culture and language surrounding this holiday to the classroom.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar. It is determined by astrological calculations and by the first sighting of the crescent moon or hilāl (هلال) which signifies the beginning of the month. By using these calculations, the date and length of Ramadan changes each year. During Ramadan, over one billion Muslims worldwide will fast from sunrise to sundown. Fasting is meant to give one perspective on life and allow one to empathize with the hardships the less fortunate endure. Muslims not only fast during this time but also make a greater effort to abstain from behavior that could be perceived as inappropriate. Ramadan is a time of great reflection and is often marked with increases in charitable donations.
It is during the month of Ramadan that Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed heard the first verse of the Qur’an. Thus, reading, reciting and listening to the Qur’an are very important activities during Ramadan. Another important aspect of this holiday is time spent with family, friends, and the community. The post-fast meal or iftar, (إفطار) often involves inviting friends and family to share in eating specially prepared meals which again emphasizes charitable acts. Iftar is also held in public places and in mosques in order to ensure all community members can partake in this important meal.
The actions of the Prophet Mohammed hold great importance and often become tradition. As the Prophet Mohammed broke his fast first by eating dates, Muslims worldwide also follow this practice. The importance of dates in the Middle East is similar to the importance of rice in China or corn in the United States. Dates have been a staple fruit in much of the Middle East for thousands of years and provide healthy nourishment for those who have been fasting. Ramadan ends as it began – with the sighting of the hilal. The celebration of Eid-ul Fitr(عيد الفطر) then follows.
Cheng & Tsui’s new graded readers series Small Wonders explores the important agricultural, economical and cultural aspects of dates in the Middle East.