I grew up in the city in which we live today. It is a community that has very large Muslim population. Until I was an adult, it never really struck me as being much different from other places--- it just was what it was. Growing up I was surrounded with my peers wearing hijabs (the head covering worn by most Muslim women), friends speaking both Arabic and English, and being aware that fasting was taking place during the holy month of Ramadan because in high school all the students participating were allowed to sit in the auditorium of my high school instead of the cafeteria during lunch hour. One time in my high school sewing class a bunch of girls in my class brought in some yummy Arabic food and their wedding videos for us to watch while we sewed. Yes---you read that right---their wedding videos. We were all between 15 and 17 years old at the time.
I had an awareness, but not an understanding of Islam. I think one of the easiest ways to learn the basics of religion, even for adults, is by reading children's books on the subject. Ramadan ended a few days ago, but this past week we checked out two books about Ramadan from our library --- Ramadan and Celebrate Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr. The first book was about how a fictitious family celebrated Ramadan and the second book was more a National Geographic type approach with lots of photos about the holiday from different cultures. Great books! I learned about what Ramadan actually is --- a reflection on the time when Allah revealed the Koran to the prophet Mohammed. Muslims are supposed to take this month of fasting, that comes once a year based a lunar calendar, to forgive those who have wronged them in the past year, pray, serve the needy, and think about how to live better lives. Eid Al-Fitr is the day of celebration and breaking the fast at the end of Ramadan.
Reading these books gave Red and I an opportunity to discuss what her friends believe and how they celebrate. I now have a better understanding of what Ramadan and Eid are all about too.
What does your family do to educate your children about other faiths?