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Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

Some of our students and staff annually observe Ramadan, one of the most anticipated months of the year for Muslim families. Here are some facts about Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, and ideas for how to support our community members at schools and workplaces in a culturally sensitive way.

Ramadan observance begins at sundown on Sunday, March 10 and ends at sundown on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. The Feast of Fast-Breaking, Eid al-Fitr takes place April 10-12.

Facts About Ramadan

In Ramadan, Muslims honor the revelation of the Quran, and abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. They also spend extra time reading the Quran and performing special prayers. Ramadan observance is a time of self-reflection and spiritual improvement, with a focus on cultivating self-control, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion for people who are in need. After the month of Ramadan is observed, Eid al-Fitr (the Feast of Fast-Breaking) is celebrated for 1-3 days.

  • Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar and a time of year that is most anticipated by approximately 2 billion Muslims around the world. 

  • The start and end dates are different every year by 10-11 days based on the lunar calendar. This year Ramadan takes place from sundown on March 10 to sundown on April 9, 2024.

  • The beginning and end dates for Ramadan may vary slightly by 1-2 days based on the interpretation of the arrival/sighting of the new moon.

  • The month will conclude with Eid al-Fitr (EED ull-FITTr), a three day celebration that involves praying, visiting relatives, giving gifts to children, remembering loved ones who have passed away and helping people experiencing poverty. 

  • Muslims who are fasting (including some of our students) will wake up before sunrise to have a meal called Suhur. They then do not eat or drink (even water) until sunset when they break their fast with a meal called Iftar.

  • From late evening to late at night, many Muslims engage in additional worship and wake up very early for the pre-dawn meal. Students may be more tired, less energetic, or less focused from the physical demands of their routine.

  • Youth who have reached puberty are obligated to fast; sometimes younger children starting at ages 7-8 might fast for or half days, weekends or another schedule.

  • Some people are not required to fast including anyone sick or traveling; pregnant, nursing or on their menses; older people who are too weak or ill to fast.

  • Some Muslims do not fast depending on their situation or family preference.

  • Fasting during Ramadan is not about staying hungry and thirsty, it’s meant to be a complete spiritual cleanse.

  • The best way for teachers, administrators and staff to offer support to fasting students is to share words of encouragement and appreciation. For example, use affirming statements such as, “Thank you for letting me know,” or “Is there anything you need?” or “Wow, I’m really impressed.” Avoid statements such as, “That is hard,” or “I need to lose weight, maybe I should fast, too,” or “Oh poor thing, you must be so hungry,” or “That is not good for your health.” 

  • The friendly greeting “Ramadan Mubarak (moo-BAR-ak)/Happy Ramadan” can affirm our Muslim colleagues, students and families to feel valued, supported and comfortable to share their experience. 

How can staff offer support during Ramadan?

**Each student has individual practices and needs. The best way to find out what might be supportive is to have a private conversation. Each school site has different staff roles or facilities available, so the suggestions listed below may need to be adapted.**

✦ Provide an alternate food-free space to be at lunchtime for students who are fasting such as the school library or a classroom instead of the cafeteria

✦ Provide a private space for Muslim youth who are not participating in fasting to eat - They may not feel comfortable eating publicly

✦ Consider changing dates or times of school celebrations that include food/eating

✦ Be mindful of your Muslim students when passing out food, drink or candy in class

✦ Be a support for students who may be tempted to or actually break their fast

✦ Identify a comfortable space for students to pray (legally required by the U.S. Constitution) 

✦ Allow students to take a brief break if they struggle to concentrate

✦ Ask students and staff who are fasting what they need and what considerations would help

✦ Be a support for students who may start wearing their hijab this month

✦ Remember it is not a student’s responsibility to educate class members about Ramadan, and please support a student who initiates and wants to share

✦ Invite trusted community members to your classroom or staff meeting to speak about Ramadan (Islamic Speaker’s Bureau or ING Speakers or other special guest)

✦ Be flexible during physical education/activity - Instead of a mile run, students can do low-intensity activity like walking or stretching with extra breaks, or do alternative assignments/activities

✦ Be empathetic and consider the impact on Muslim students when planning school activities and events - Will they feel left out? Will they need to break their fast during Iftar (sunset)?

✦ Ask students and staff who are fasting what they need and what considerations would help

✦ Remember that accommodations for fasting may primarily affect secondary students, and some elementary students may choose to fast for all or part of the days

 

[For more information, please see the Ramadan Information Sheet or Cultural Literacy Educator Resources.]

 

page updated February 2024