Marking the time when the first chapters of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), Ramadan is a time to reflect on how the values of this Holy Month can be celebrated and embedded in education as well as in family life.
Observing Ramadan is very personal and individual; for many it is a time for reflection and for emphasising the qualities of tolerance, compassion and empathy, gratitude and generosity.
Traditionally, it is also a time for families to come together to think about love, devotion and forgiveness and for caring about each other and the wider community.
Values such as these are universal and form an essential part of family life and deserve to be embedded in any sound education programme.
In the multi-cultural environment of the UAE, with different nationalities and multiple religions being educated together, it can be very rewarding for all children to learn about the key teachings of Ramadan.
They can begin to appreciate the differences and similarities that connect them and distinguish them from others, understand more about the religion and culture of the UAE and observe the changes it brings to their classmates daily routines.
While many of us understand about the central observances of Ramadan; fasting, giving and special family time, not everyone fully appreciates the values that underpin these acts.
Fasting in Ramadan encourages people to feel empathy and a shared social responsibility with those suffering from poverty, famine and inequality.
It also helps to make people grateful for the many blessings they take for granted and reminds them of the need to be charitable and to treat all people as they themselves would wish to be treated.
Ramadan is an opportunity to model positive behaviour and provide for those less fortunate.
Many schools launch initiatives to give back to the community, which can be anything from encouraging ‘30 days of good deeds’ or setting up a publicly available ‘Ramadan fridge’ where it can be monitored and filled by parents, students or the local community.
Others focus on raising money for humanitarian causes or for projects closer to home such as raising money to buy wheelchairs for children of determination or by collecting and distributing toys for children in less fortunate circumstances.
The spirit of Ramadan is about being gracious and building positive relations and nowhere are these values exemplified better than in a family.
Coming together to share meal times such as Suhoor and Iftar; taking time out of busy schedules to catch up and spend quality time together; remembering to appreciate the different family members for the contribution they make to the everyone’s lives and to collectively count one’s blessings, can be very rewarding and grounding.
Teaching children about traditions and values is an important part of education and family life all the year round but taking time in the Holy Month to really focus on the values of Ramadan, will guide them and remind them of how important they are in everyday life.
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