Celebrate Ramadan

Celebrate Ramadan by Deborah HeiligmanCelebrate Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr
with Praying, Fasting and Charity

Holidays Around the World Series
National Geographic
Ages 5-9
978-0792259268 Hardcover
978-1426304767 Paperback
Named as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book by the National Social Studies Teacher/Children’s Book Council

Every year, all over the world Muslims observe Ramadan. The holiday lasts a month. The dates change ever year (about eleven days at a time) because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and Ramadan is actually the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Why is Ramadan special? It is the month during which the prophet Mohammed first received the words of Allah, or God. These teachings became the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an. So for Muslims it is a time for prayer and deep thought.

If you know a Muslim, ask him or her to tell you about Ramadan and the teachings of the Qur’an. That’s what I did to research my book. In addition to doing research in books and on the internet, I spoke to neighbors, friends, and experts about the religion of Islam and especially about Ramadan and the festival at the end of the month, called Eid al-Fitr. One of the people who helped me the most was a professor at Columbia University, Neguin Yavari.She worked really hard on the book with me, and wrote a note that is at the end of the book. She taught me a lot, and we had fun, too.

I learned many things about Ramadan: I learned that adults and teenagers fast from sun-up to sun-down every day for a whole month! They don’t even drink water or chew gum during that time. I learned that it is a time to pray a lot and think about God. I learned that it is also a time to give to the needy and to promise to become a better person. I put all of this, and more, in my book.

The book also has beautiful photographs in it-of people from all over the world celebrating Ramadan and the Eid. (The photos were found by the wonderful Lori Epstein, the photo editor at National Geographic Children’s books and a photographer in her own right.)

Here are some of the countries in the book: Australia, France, Nigeria, China, India, Nepal, Jordan, and the United States. And there is a recipe from Tunisia.

A recipe? But isn’t this a holiday about fasting? Even though Muslims fast during Ramadan, food is important. All during Ramadan people get up early in the morning and eat a very good breakfast (called sahur) to keep them going during the day. At the end of the day families and friends get together to eat a delicious and nutritious meal (called iftar). The recipe in my book is from friends of mine who own an Italian Restaurant in Doylestown, Pennsylvania called Paganini. (Raof, one of the owners, grew up in Tunisia and observes Ramadan.)