Teach Cultural Sensitivity By Celebrating Ramadan

Across the United States, students are largely unaware of Ramadan. It's often lumped in with KwanzaaChinese New Year, and Diwali -- all important holidays in their own rights, but victims of othering by American culture.

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. In Muslim tradition, it commemorates the first revelation of Quran to the prophet Muhammad, his first visit from the Archangel Gabriel. Muslims around the world observe the festival month by fasting from dawn until sunset. Many mosques will host feasts at sunset everyday of the month.

In the Gregorian calendar, Ramada falls between May 26th and June 25th.

It's no debate that Islam is a hot-button issue in contemporary America. Consider this Ramadan an opportunity to teach students about the rich cultural tradition Islam offers. It will, after all, be the largest world religion by 2070, according to the Pew Research Centre.

If your classroom includes Muslim students, allow them to discuss with the class what Ramadan means to them. Giving them space to safely express their religious beliefs will encourage self-assurance as well as respect from their peers.

Also invite them to share their culture past a purely religious context, perhaps throwing a party with traditional food and dance. Islam spans many countries and continents, so investigate your student's specific origin before diving in. In Iraq, for example, date-nut pastries are all the rage. All throughout different cultures, though, you will find halal food, or food that is prepared according to Muslim law. The keys to incorporating Islam tradition into your classroom are sensitivity and curiosity. Instill those same values in your class and you all enjoy a profound cultural learning experience.

Salaam-Alaikum, brothers and sisters. (Now you say “alaikum-salaam”).


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