Supporting Muslim Youth Members During Ramadan
During Ramadan we as leaders can support Youth Members to continue their everyday Scouting alongside their spiritual development.
Educate yourself and your unit by involved in the festive time of Ramadan through activities on the tradition. You might even want to encourage the decoration of your patrol corners with lanterns and Islamic inspired art. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around Muslims and their practices, as is unfortunately common with most religions. The spiritual development of all members is an important element of Scouts. Scouts is a movement that explores faith, beliefs and attitudes as a core element of our programme, and is one of our fundamental values. Ramadan is an ideal time to educate your unit on Islamic practices and build empathy towards those of the faith so members observing Ramadan feel safer and understood.
Organising group and district camps during Ramadan should be avoided because it would be unlikely that Muslim youth members would be able be attend, resulting in them feeling excluded. Ramadan is an intensive spiritual month that cannot really involve a few changes to a camp to make it suitable. By booking group and district camps at other times of the year, it opens the camp up for more youth members to attend.
Planning for major events, leadership courses, and training weekend’s consideration should be given to dates of significance for all religions and faiths where possible. Many leaders plan their scouting year around the Australian public holidays that often align with Christian dates of significance. As an inclusive scouting community, we should all be doing our best to recognise Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish holy days alongside Christian ones. Dates such as Luna New Year, Eid, Passover, Holi, and Diwali and more have an equivalent amount of importance to date such as Easter and Christmas. Please be aware that scheduling major events around these dates without being able to guarantee a youth members religious needs will be met, will prevent or discourage members from attending.
Choose activities that don’t have the main focus being on food. Muslims abstain from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. By not having a cooking or eating element of the activity youth members are able to pass on the offer of food without feeling pressured, excluded, or drawing unwanted attention to themselves.
Ask the youth member what they would find supportive during Ramadan. Keep in mind that Ramadan is a time of reflection in order to come closer to Allah. It is not a time of suffering, as some may presume due to the fasting period. Such a suggestion may create a feeling that Ramadan is unhealthy physically or mentally, or potentially insult the fasting adult or youth member who is doing so as part of very specific purposes in order to achieve something important to them. Encourage them to come back to you at any point with their realised suggestions as they go through this period; they don’t need to answer immediately, if at all.
Try not to draw attention drawn to Muslim members who need to go pray. ‘During an activity, workshop or course members may need to leave to pray. It’s important that youth members know they can quietly step away from the activity, workshop or course when they need to.
Consider having activities that don’t involve strenuous movement during Ramadan. Fasting can have significant impact on the body, youth members undertaking physical activity during Ramadan may experience consequential effects of fasting.
Offer a prayer space all year round. Some Scout Den’s, Community Hall’s or Campsites may already have a dedicated prayer space and an awareness of the requirements for Muslim members. If not, this could be something you talk to other leaders about and look at how this can be implemented.
The above information has been adapted from the SBS Learn and in partnership with Muslim Scouting members in Queensland.
Branch Commissioner (Diversity and Inclusion)