Observing Ramadan and celebrating Eid in Scouting

Ramadan And Eid Blog

As Ramadan begins many of our members move into a very meaningful period.

We wanted to learn more about how Ramadan is observed from a Scouting

perspective and so we spoke to Shaheen Ally, Cub Scout Leader at AHF Scout

Group in Blackburn. In this interview she kindly shares her experience and

knowledge of Ramadan and Eid.

 

1. Shaheen, hello. Thank you for chatting to us. Can you tell us a bit

about Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Throughout this

month, Muslims all over the world will abstain from eating and drinking each day

between dawn and sunset. This practice is commonly known as fasting.

 

2. Aside from fasting, how else is Ramadan observed?

The observance of Ramadan is extremely rich in meaning. Ramadan is the month

in which the Qur’an, the Muslim sacred scripture, was revealed. Aside from

fasting, Muslims dedicate more time to prayer and good deeds. Ramadan is a

month to reflect and improve one’s life habits by refraining not only from food

and drink but anything blameworthy or disapproved both in speech and action .

Those who fast also become more sensitive to the needs of those who habitually

go hungry around the world due to poverty.

 

3. When will it take place this year and how long do you fast for?

The Islamic year comprises of 12 lunar months of 29 or 30 days. The beginning

of the month of Ramadan is dependent on the sighting of the new moon. For this

year, it is predicted the month will start on Saturday 27 May and will continue

for 29 or 30 days.

 

4. Does everyone fast?

Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for all able adult Muslims; those who are

unwell, elderly, pregnant or suffering from health related illnesses are exempt

from fasting.

 

5. How do young people observe Ramadan?

Children do not need to fast during Ramadan until they reach the age of maturity.

However, many young people enjoy taking part in the fast and may practice their

fasting in a way that is appropriate for their age. Children may choose to fast for

a few hours, half a day or one full day on the weekend, allowing them, in their

own way, to be part of this special time for families and communities.

 

6. What are some of the ways that individuals taking part are affected

during this time? Perhaps physically or spiritually?

Fasting isn’t unique to Islam. Christians, Hindus and Jews also practice fasting

and prayer. As well as giving people a spiritual boost, fasting develops

self-discipline through sacrifice.

 

In 2017, Ramadan in the UK will take place in one of the hottest and longest

summer months. An average fast will be 19 to 20 hours each day. Many Muslims

will also spend their nights in communal prayer. During Ramadan, Muslims also

have a light meal before daybreak. Therefore, it’s common for people to be

deprived of sleep resulting in feeling tired and lethargic during the day. The first

few days of fasting are always hard and may cause headaches and dizziness, but

very soon the body becomes accustomed to the new regime.

 

7. How does your programme at Scouts adapt during Ramadan?

Many Scout Groups across the UK will adapt their sessions for their members

and volunteers. This might mean changing the times they meet, not doing

outdoor strenuous activities or just adapting their programme to include

Ramadan themed activities.

 

8. How do you manage as a leader who is fasting?

Leaders who are fasting may feel tired and not have the same energy levels as

normal. Rotating leaders and making use of occasional helpers is vital to ensure

volunteers are not left feeling burnt out. Prayer times when running sessions or

just allowing volunteers and children time to pray, could also be a good idea.

 

9. Can you tell us a bit about Zakat – the element of charity – honoured

during Ramadan?

Zakat is about giving a portion of money to the poor and needy every year. It is

an act of worship and self-purification. The act of Zakat is often practiced during

Ramadan however it can be done at any time during the year. The giving of

Zakat allows Muslims to purify themselves from greed and selfishness,

appreciate the blessings of God, and fulfil one’s obligation towards one’s

community and society.

 

10. Do you have any tips for activities to support young people to

explore Ramadan and celebrate in the Group?

Muslim children love Ramadan. It’s a time of unity and happiness. Often whole

communities will come together every day to break fast and pray. All leaders in

Scouting should try to celebrate Ramadan with their young people. Simple

activities like making cards, advent calendars or even breaking fast together will

create amazing memories for them.

 

Groups can organise a fundraiser for a charity of their choice or even organise an

‘Eid’ party at the end of the month of fasting. Ramadan really can be celebrated

by everyone and not just Muslims. It’s a time for, happiness, giving and charity.

This year the AHF Scout Group will be taking part in the Iftar (meal) Under the

Stars event, which is a national celebration coordinated by the Muslim Scout

Fellowship. Scout Groups from across the UK will come together at a number of

outdoor venues. At sunset everyone will observe prayer together and break fast

under the stars.

 

11. Between periods of fasting, are there any traditional foods that are

eaten?

During Ramadan, Muslims often break their fast with water and dates. Many will

drink Zamzam water, which is sourced from the holy city of Makkah in Saudi

Arabia. Dates are readily available from many local shops and supermarkets.

 

12. Can you tell us a bit about Eid and how it is celebrated?

‘Eid al-Fitr’ also known as just ‘Eid’ is celebrated worldwide by Muslims to mark

the end of Ramadan. There is a special prayer that is performed in congregation

on the day of Eid followed by family and social gatherings where traditional and

special sweets and food dishes are shared. Muslims will often wear nice clothes

and exchange gifts on Eid.

 

13. For leaders conducting programmes during Ramadan, how can the

Muslim Scout fellowship assist with support and ideas?

Any Group wanting to get involved in Ramadan or Eid should contact the Muslim

Scout Fellowship. There are so many things Groups can do to join in the

celebrations. You can even contact Muslim Scout Groups in your County or

District who may be running special sessions throughout the month.

 

The Iftar Under the Stars event is another fantastic way to get involved. To find out where

your closest event is taking place, get in touch with the Muslim Scout Fellowship

by sending an email to info@ukmsf.org.

 

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