Ramadan marks the holy month in the Islamic calendar when Muslims observe fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is a period during which Muslims are expected to strive to a higher level of spirituality and where kindness, forgiveness and charity are actively promoted.
It can be an especially challenging month for our students who will have to go through the normal school day without eating or drinking. Each year at EF Academy Oxford, our staff enjoy learning more about Ramadan and how we can support our students and help them celebrate.
Who fasts for Ramadan and why?
Not everyone is expected to fast and there are some exemptions. Fasting is neither obligatory for children, until they reach “of age”. The exact age of this forms some scholarly debate, but it is usually suggested when a child reaches adolescence (around 13) but some as young as nine will begin with “half-day” fasts. The majority of our Muslim students will fast, and this year the cohort of Muslim students came from diverse places such as Indonesia, Morocco, France, Algeria, Iran and Palestine.
What happens to the school day during Ramadan?
Ramadan in the UK began on the 12th April, lasting until the 12th May and throughout this month, our students were provided with special meal packs in the evening, consisting of a large evening meal and a packed breakfast for Suhur (pre-dawn meal) to eat in the early hours before school. Our Pathway Manager, Daniel, who works with most of our Muslim students, assisted in ensuring they were suitably nourished and had access to cooking facilities.
When does Ramadan end?
Ramadan concludes with the first sighting of the new moon, when Eid Al Fitr is celebrated and the breaking of the fast. We celebrated with our students by laying out an Eid banquet for them, consisting of a spread of foods as similar as can be found in Oxford to that in their home countries. We dined on baba ghanoush, mezze plates, halloumi salads, mixed grill plates, breads, lamb tagine, couscous and pickles.
Zahra, our student from Indonesia explained what Ramadan means to her and how she usually celebrates at home;
“Ramadhan to me personally serves as a reminder to appreciate the things that I have in life. Fasting for a month where you can’t eat and drink during the day reminds me to be grateful that I have access to food and water whenever I want and I think a lot of people take that for granted.
It also makes me appreciate my family more. Especially since moving to England, I’ve looked back and realized how I should’ve appreciated the times where I could spend Ramadhan and celebrate Eid with my family.
My family normally celebrates by visiting my mother’s hometown (usually for a week). It’s really nice to meet my cousins and the food is great!”
Eid Mubarak to all celebrating from everyone at EF Academy Oxford!