Wednesday 12 July 2017

Guest Post: Islamic Family Traditions and Culture

Image Credit: Muslim Family Prayers from Shutterstock

We live in an increasingly multicultural society, so it is great to know and understand the traditions and culture of other religions. One culture that is brought over all the way from the Middle East is the celebrations and traditions followed by Muslims. Just as Christians celebrate Easter and Christmas, Muslims have an Islamic calendar with holidays to celebrate.

Educating yourself and your children about these traditions is a great idea to help you to understand the basic beliefs of Muslims. Whether your child is at school with another Muslim child, your neighbours are a Muslim family or you work with someone of that culture, showing an interest and knowledge of their culture can go a long way.

There are three main holidays in the Islamic Calendar; Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. Many of the holiday traditions are commonly shared by Muslim families. Here are some of the exciting celebrations and fun traditions Muslims participate in during these holidays.

Moon Sighting 
The holiday dates for Muslims vary each year; this is because they are determined by a fully lunar calendar. For this reason, a sighting of the moon is a very important part of the tradition. A new born crescent moon is sighted to mark the beginning and end of a month – such as Ramadan. If the crescent is there then the festivities can begin and if it is not, they will begin a day later.

Pre-dawn Meal 
The main tradition of Ramadan is to fast from dawn to sunset and during this time, amongst other acts; Muslims abstain from consuming all food and drink. Therefore, a pre-dawn meal is taken about an hour before dawn to allow them some energy for the day before fasting.

Sunset Dinner 
When the sun sets every evening, the fasting comes to an end. Muslims celebrate this with a festive dinner and will often cook their finest food. Sometimes, Ramadan is the only time of year that a particular food is cooked to make the month feel more special. The dinner is called Iftar and it is common to see delicious traditional foods served up at the dinner table.

Image Credit: Friends & family Eating Dinner from Shutterstock

New Clothes 
Muslims will often celebrate Eid by wearing new clothes or their best set of clothes to Eid prayers. These clothes are also worn for the rest of the day when celebratory parties and gatherings are attended. The clothes are often brightly coloured and traditional Muslim dress. Many girls and women will also decorate their hands with henna tattoos in the form of pretty patterns.

Muslims celebrate the act of giving during their holidays. On Eid day, Zakat, the third pillar of Islam is offered. Zakat is an annual charity paid by adult Muslims on 2.5% of their wealth - if they earn enough to qualify. The money is then used to meet the needs of the less fortunate in society and given as donations to those in need in countries like Syria.

Night Prayers 
Islam prescribes 5 daily prayers, in addition to these, night prayers are an optional tradition. Each night in Ramadan, these prayers are performed in congregation and last about an hour. Muslims will recite the Quran in these prayers; a chapter is read each night so that the whole Quran can be finished in the 30 days of Ramadan. These prayers are a very enjoyable experience for many.

Remembering Friends and Family
All of the Islamic holiday traditions are set around being with friends and family. It is a time when Muslims connect and enjoy the company of people around them. People will spend Eid day hosting or attending breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners and open houses. It’s also a time of year that those who have passed on are remembered. Many will visit graveyards to pay their respects.

This post has been submitted to me by Muslim Aid. Many thanks for a really informative post and helping me to understand a little more about the customs of Islam.

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