Festivals of Light: Ramadan and Eid
By Lateef Muhammed, Volunteer, Children’s International Learning Centre.
One of the most practiced religions in the world is Islam, which is performed by Muslims. They follow the teachings inscribed in their holy book, the Holy Quran as well as suggestions from the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), an important figure in the religion. Muslims are required to perform five prayers throughout the course of the day. Similar to many other religions, there are a few festivals celebrated in Islam: two of the most important ones being Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr.
The holy month of Ramadan is typically 29 or 30 days and occurs once a year. It is based around the lunar cycle and therefore changes by approximately ten days every year. The purpose of Ramadan is to practice discipline, enhance devotion, worship, and cultivate empathy for the less fortunate. There are four main aspects of Ramadan that my family partakes in: Fasting, Tarawih (nightly prayers), Zakat (charity), and reciting the Quran.
When Muslims fast, they refrain from eating or drinking anything from sunrise until sunset. Before the sun rises, they consume a pre-fast meal called the Suhoor and afterwards, observe their first prayer of the day. My family typically eats a food called “swallow”. The term is widely used in Nigeria and describes starchy foods that are consumed using your fingers, taking a clump of paste, dipping it in soup and swallowing it. After the sun sets, families get together to break their fast. Traditionally, an odd number of dates is consumed to break fast because these were the Prophet Muhammad’s favourite fruits. Other fruits such as oranges, apples and bananas are often eaten after.
Tarawih is a set of prayers that are performed during the night. Zakat is a set amount of money that a believer is required to donate to charity. Muslims usually donate the total amount during Ramadan since the rewards are higher during the month. The entirety of the Quran is also encouraged to be read during the month.
Eid-ul-Fitr is a holiday that comes the day after the month-long celebration of Ramadan. In the morning, believers perform a special prayer that takes place in a local mosque (place of worship for Muslims). Later in the day, families gather, decorate their homes and a special Eid meal is served. Presents are also handed out to the children.
Muslims hope to implement the good deeds that they performed during the month of Ramadan and Eid into their everyday lives as this will benefit them, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The Children’s International Learning Centre (CILC) is a non-profit organization that was established with the vision of contributing to a world of care and respect for all people and our environment. We endeavour to do this by promoting respect for diversity and awareness of our world community through guided discovery and interactive, artistic programmes, which will soon be delivered online.
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