For our Muslim neighbours the holy month of Ramadan has begun. The recently elected Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said Ramadan is a ‘great opportunity… to break down the mystique and suspicion around Islam.’
During Ramadan we will have two or three posts to help us understand more about Islam, and what we can all learn from Islam.
Over 90% of the children of St Johns School, one of our Church schools, are from Muslim homes. Fr Ian recently talked with Abdul, Amaan, Nawaal and Kiran, children at St John’s, about Ramadan, and what it means to them and to their families. Many of the children’s insights are simple, direct and of value to all people, irrespective of their faith.
Here are some of the things the children said: “The fast lasts each day of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. It helps us feel how the poor feel when they don’t eat.”
It is good to have a “time to pray, to think about and practise our religion. To take it seriously.” “It is a peaceful time.” This aspect of Ramadan is very insightful – we need dedicated times for spiritual reflection. It is not just about fasting from food – but from lying and gossip too.
Iftar the time of breaking the fast each day with a meal at sunset is, the children said, “a special time for the family to come together each day, to pray and eat together.” “Sometimes children can spend a lot of time in their rooms looking at screens, in Ramadan we see the importance of being together for a meal as a family.” “Being together as a family is important.”
Ms Mortlock, a teacher at St John’s, told how she has been inspired by the dedication of local families to observe Ramadan and the support and care people give one another to keep the fast. There is also, she commented, a spirit of generosity as, especially in Ramadan, the children will collect money for charity. In school it is good to talk with children and families about Ramadan and to see how many of the values it encourages are useful for us all to consider.