The blessed month has come to the school year, and it is not leaving anytime soon.
Welcome to Ramadan educators! Yes indeed 2017 marks a special year in the world of being an educator of Muslim students as this is the year that Ramadan solidly enters the school year.
The Islamic calendar (better known as the hijiri calendar) is calculated by the movement of the moon around the earth as oppose to the movement of the earth around the sun. It is therefore ten days shorter than the gregorian calendar (11 when it is a leap year). Thus Ramadan, which is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, moves throughout the seasons at a pace of ten days per year. This year Ramadan began in May on the evening of May 26th (days on the Islamic calendar begin at sunset). There are very few schools that release for the summer before the end of May, so even schools that end as early as June 3rd; where they would not have had school in session with their Muslim students during Ramadan in 2016 they now do. It will only increase from here! In 2010 Ramadan ended on September 9th, that was the last year where it ended after labor day and also the last year where most schools with Muslim students had school in session during Ramadan. So potentially it is the case that we have teachers out there who have had Muslim students for 6 years but never had to teach the during Ramadan. Again, to all those teachers and educators of Musli students everywhere I saw WELCOM TO RAMADAN! Because it is not going away anytime soon! As a matter of fact we can project that the end of Ramadan will not be pre-labor day again until the year 2043!
What is Ramadan?
The fourth pillar of the religion of islam is fasting during the month of Ramadan. Fasting in Islam has both a physical and a spiritual/moral dimension to it. The physical fasting means abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations from the time of the light of the dawn until the setting of the sun. This is obligatory to be done in the religion by anyone who is an adult; and the adulthood in Islam is defined as having reached puberty as indicated by whenever one of the following is experienced: 1. The growth of coarse hair in the private area 2. Sexual discharge due to desire, or 3. Attainment of the age of fifteen. Additionally for women is the arrival of her first menstrual cycle. Children can be encouraged to fast, but it is not an obligation put upon them by the religion.
The Quran gives exceptions to fasting to adults when they are in some particular situations. Those being if they are 1.) traveling upon a journey, 2.) ill and likely to recover, 3.) menstruating, or 4.) enduring postnatal bleeding. The religion allows for adults in these situations to miss fasting but also mandates that they make the days up outside of Ramadan once they are able to.
There is another group of people who are exempt from fasting and do not have to make the days up by fasting but rather are to make it up by providing a meal to a hungry person in need given that they are able to do so. These are people who are 1.) Permanently ill and note expected to recover, 2.) Unable to fast due to weakness of old age, and 3.) Pregnant or breastfeeding.
The spiritual dimension of fasting means that the Muslim is to devote the month to getting closer to God by increasing their remembrance of God, increasing their acts of worship, increasing their selfless deeds such as giving charity and showing kindness, and refraining from immoral and impious behavior such as getting angry, backbiting, lying, and any other sins. The increase of acts of worship is formalized to a degree because something that takes place in the mosques only during Ramadan is nightly lengthy prayers that feature extended recitations of the Qur’an. these prayers are called taraweeh (or tahajjud) and they take place after the obligatory night prayer and they run up to two hours and length; often leaving worshippers in the mosque well past midnight, especially in the summer time when the nighttime arrives late to begin with. These prayers are not obligatory in the religion, but they are highly encouraged to do. Whether a Muslim is devout year round, moderately practicing, or engulfed in sin the rest of the year Ramadan is a time that offers them hope from God in the form of repentance and increased reward for the good deeds they do.