A highlight of my job at Clarkston High (probably the most diverse high school in the US), is sponsoring the Muslim Student Association. The club holds weekly meetings in my room and I have a blast learning from the club’s many members. In return for all I get from the kids, I take it as my responsibility to educate my colleagues about the intersections between public education and Muslim students. Each year, I write a Ramadan letter to my faculty, explaining a little about the holiday and how to handle the fact that 30% of our student body is fasting. Here is this year’s letter:
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is happening right now through August 31. To help you through the month when Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, I’ve put together a RamaFAQ.
1. What is Ramadan? The holiday celebrates Islam’s greatest prophet, Mohammed, receiving Allah’s revelation for humankind. To observe, students may be fasting from sun-up to sun-down. That includes no drinking water. As with any religious observance, not all Muslim students will participate in fasting. Some of our younger students may have trouble concentrating. I recommend giving a restroom pass so they can refocus.
2. When is Ramadan? Because the Muslim calendar is lunar, Ramadan moves around the year. It could be any time. This year, it’s August 1-31. At the end of Ramadan is a holiday called Eid. Many of our Muslim students will be out of school to celebrate for up to 3 days.
3. How do I wish a kid Happy Ramadan? You could say “Happy Ramadan”. If you want to make a kid smile, greet him or her with “Ramadan Mubarak” (Ramadan’s blessings on you) or “Ramadan Kareem” (um, I’m not sure).
4. Where can I read a little more about this holiday? This Washington Post article is fun and educational.
This is very cool. Most of my students have never met a Muslim in their lives. It would be great to think of some productive way for our students to meet—my students have so much to learn.
kareem means generous, which fits in with part of the ethos of the deal to feel with the world’s poor. the response to ramadan kareem is allahu akram, which means god is most generous.
great job on the letter
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