Ramadan information for Carers



What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide and is regarded as a blessed month, which is observed on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. There are five basic rules in Islam which all Muslims must follow. These are known as The Five Pillars of Islam. Ramadan symbolises one of the Five Pillars and is referred to as ‘Sawm’, meaning the “Fasting during the month of Ramadan”.

At the beginning of the fasting month, Muslims will greet each other with ‘Ramadan Kareem’ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ as a celebratory term. The fasting month lasts for 29-30 days each year however this is not set as fixed date, such as Christmas celebrated on the 25th of December yearly. In order to observe Ramadan at the correct time, Muslims seek advice from their local Mosque who confirm the start and end date of the fasting period which is at dawn and sunset.

Who participates in fasting and why?

Muslims can start fasting when they reach puberty (around the age of about 12) as long as they are healthy. There are some exemptions for fasting which may include.

- Illness: Those who are sick do not have to fast during Ramadan. This includes mental illness, physical illness, and those on medication

- Children: pre- pubescent children do not have to fast; however, some do choose to while others fast for half a day

- Pregnant women

- Breastfeeding mothers

- Menstruating women

- The elderly

- People travelling

Advice can be taken from the local Mosque to discuss individual needs if you are unsure about a young person’s circumstances or My Foster Family (formerly the Muslim Fostering Network. Please speak to your SSW) A person who is fasting is expected to refrain from consuming all foods, liquids and abstain from smoking and sexual activity from dawn until sunset.

Ramadan is set aside as a time for reflection and increased worship. Many Muslims will visit their local Mosque more frequently, perform regular prayers, read The Quran (Holy Book) and give to charity and/or volunteer for a good cause. Ramadan is regarded as a blessed month. It helps Muslims to develop self-control, acknowledge God’s Blessings and encourages one to have greater compassion towards others, especially the deprived

Fasting Timetable

A typical routine for a person fasting includes awaking before Sunrise to eat a meal of their choice. This prefast meal is known as suhur. this meal often resembles breakfast but, in some cultures, it may include more dinner like foods.

- The first prayer then commences after breakfast. Sunrise times differ depending on where you live in the UK and the month Ramadan falls on. Muslims tend to return back to sleep once they have prayed and eaten before sunrise, so to preserve their energy before they continue their daily routine of work / school / college etc. The school or college your young person attends will be able to advice further on how they are able to support a young person who is fasting whilst they are studying.

- Towards the end of the day a meal is prepared prior to sunset. Many friends and families arrange a gathering to break their fast together. Traditionally, once the time of sunset has arrived which is known as ‘iftar’, the first food item eaten to break the fast is often fresh dates (this is very symbolic) with water or milk followed by dinner.  It is a good  idea to have some prepared food that young people can help themselves to when they are hungry in the early hours of the morning. This may consist of a cultural dish such as bread, rice, chicken curry, kebab’s, samosas etc. This meal needs to be high in protein, carbs, fats, and dairy so to ensure the young person is still receiving the recommended daily nutrients, to take them through the fasting period. The NHS website has some useful information on healthy fasting during Ramadan - https://mcb.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Ramadan-a-guide-to-healthy-fasting-NHS.pdf. This is also the time for the fourth prayer of the day. In total there are five prayers observed throughout the day. Muslims are permitted to snack between these two meals and hydration is encouraged.

- Many local Mosques can provide you with a timetable of sunset and sunrise times for the fasting period, which makes it easier for any person to follow. Generally, men are expected to attend the Mosque to observe these prayers. It is optional for women to attend and not all Mosques cater for female worshipers.

Some ideas on how to support a child/young person in foster care during Ramadan

- Check in with the young person – do they have a prayer mat and a Quaran? Do they have an app on their phone or a timetable to know the prayer times? It is the young person’s choice whether or not they wish to attend mosque.

- Provide a Hijab (Head Scarf) for females and a Mosque Hat for males. A child/young person will choose if and when they want to wear this.

- Would the young people like to cook their own food? (See note above about having food prepared beforehand) Is there any specific meals they would like to eat? Do they need support to go shopping?

- Is it possible for everyone in the same house to eat together at the same time? Is this something that the young people practising Ramadan would like? It is a good idea to discuss this with the young person, their sw and your SSW prior to Ramadan starting as this may be more difficult to organise if a young person is placed with non-Muslim carers who do not adhere to Ramadan. Please be mindful dealing with young people fasting and try to avoid offering them drinks (this includes water and tea) or food during the day.

- Note that some Muslims (not all as it is not mandatory) practise an additional prayer during Ramadan called Tahjjud prayer. This might mean that the young people are up at unusual hours of the night or all night.

- Be aware that some young people practising Ramadan will wake up at night to eat and may sleep for longer hours during the day.

- Make sure young people have someone to talk to about how they feel. Ramadan is very much about family, friends and community and may bring up feelings of loss for young people.

- There are multiple Islamic channels available via TV networks such as Sky or Virgin which a young person may choose to watch to support their faith, especially during Ramadan.

NOTE -  advice from one of the local Iman’s is that attendance at mosque during the early hours of the morning is not compulsory. It is perfectly acceptable for young people to say prayers at home during this time. Many, however, will enjoy the social aspects of the mosque and will like to eat with friends. It is a good idea to talk with the young person together with their SW and your SSW to help manage expectations prior to Ramadan starting. This will  be dependent upon the young person’s age and whether they are in a foster placement or a supported lodgings placement. As foster carers tend to care for younger children, the expectation is that they will not be allowed out in the early hours of the morning.


Eid Festival


Once the month of fasting is complete, Eid is celebrated. Eid is a religious festival which is held on the first day following the end of Ramadan. It is one of the most celebrated festivities of the year. On this day, Muslims wear their best outfits, usually traditional clothing. Muslims visit their local Mosque to observe Eid prayer, after which they will greet each other with ‘Eid Mubarak’ meaning Happy Eid. Once home the family get together to have traditional sweets and breakfast. Throughout the day many will receive visitors of close friends and relatives, gifts and share food. This occasion must be marked by having sweet treats such as baklava, kheer (rice pudding) and halwa (a semolina pudding). However western sweets are also enjoyed such as cookies, cakes, and chocolate treats. It is a nice idea to buy the young person an Eid gift. This is normally an item of clothing, but it does not have to be. There is provision in the fostering allowance to cover this cost.  You may also wish to decorate your home is traditional Eid style.  Look out for the various Eid celebrations that take place in the city and support your young person to attend.



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