Observing Ramadan and celebrating Eid in Scouting
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.