x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Ramadan calendar teaches children about fasting, good deeds

A South African woman has created a calendar designed to help children learn about Islam during the holy month.

The calendar has won the approval of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
The calendar has won the approval of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

DUBAI // A Ramadan countdown calendar designed to help children learn about Islam has been launched by a UAE company.

The design is similar to that of an Advent calendar. There are 30 chocolate pieces concealed behind 30 numbered cardboard flaps - one to be opened at sunset on each day of the holy month.

The calendar is aimed at children aged 5 to 11 who are too young to fast all day, but the idea is that they earn the chocolate by fasting for a short time or doing a good deed.

The calendar has won the approval of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

There are two versions, a mosque design with 30 blank inner windows so that parents can write messages for each day to determine how their children learn about Ramadan, and a camel design with suggestions for good deeds printed on each window.

The good deeds version suggests what kind act the child should perform the following day.

Youngsters can complete a colouring-in sheet to give to their parents as an Eid al Fitr present.

"It's the first calendar of its kind to be produced in the region," said Kaye van Eijden, the managing director of Oh!Kaye Unlimited, the company behind the idea.

"It's basically an educational tool for parents to teach their children about Ramadan. The child, for example could either be told to fast for an hour or do a good deed. Then at sunset, when everyone else breaks their fast, the child gets the chocolate as a little reward.

"One of the elements of Ramadan is that you do good deeds and you are rewarded. The good deeds are, for example, tell mum you love her, help mum in the kitchen, tidy your room, and go and speak to granny and granddad.

Ms van Eijden showed the calendar to Nasif Kayed, the general manager of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre, before putting it on sale.

"It's great," Mr Kayed said. "The way you motivate Christians or Muslims is the same, faith is faith; if you finish fasting today, you get a candy.

"I just told Ms van Eijden to make sure the candies didn't melt because of the heat.

"It's a good motivating tool, copying what has been done in other faiths to motivate children. At the end of the day the human race is the same whatever they believe in or what they do."

Ms van Eijden, a South African who has lived in Dubai for 10 years, felt nervous before she took the calendar to the centre.

"Not being of the Islamic faith myself I didn't want to step on toes or do something that was wrong. But Mr Kayed was so happy that I'd come up with something like that."

There are also adult versions of the calendar based on a wind tower and a traditional doorway. Company logos can also be placed on the calendars so they can be given as corporate gifts.

The calendars are available at Spinneys supermarkets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, or via the company website, www.ramadancalendars.me. The children's versions cost around Dh50, while the adult ones are between Dh185 and Dh400.

The company has exported the calendars to Saudi Arabia and has received inquiries from Germany, the UK and Pakistan.