Tag Archives: Islam

10 Things Kids Should Know About Iran

Photo courtesy ISNA

Iran has been in the news a great deal over the past several months and the Middle Eastern nation will likely continue to be in the headlines for a long time to come. Here are 10 things kids should know about Iran beyond the headlines.

1. Until 1935, Iran was known as Persia. Persia has had a vast cultural influence on the world in areas such as art, architecture, music, the weaving of rugs, science, and much more.

2. Iran borders the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea. It shares land borders with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.

3. Iran is the 18th-largest country on earth. It is slightly smaller than Alaska.

4. Persian is the official language but more than six other languages are also spoken.

5. 98% of the population practices Islam, with 89% following the Shia Islam and 9% following Sunni Islam.

6. One in four people in Iran are under the age of 14.

7. The vast majority of the population – 71% – live in urban areas.

8. Most children attend school for 13 years.

9. Most Iranians work in the services sector but industry and agriculture are also important.

10. Iranians use money called a rial.

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Millions Travel to Mecca for Annual Hajj

On November 5, millions of Muslims began the five-day hajj, an annual trip to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that is one of the five pillars of Islam.

The hajj, which draws about 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims to sacred sites in and around Mecca, is the largest religious gathering in the world.

Muslims who are physically able and can afford to make the trip gather from around the world to pray and practice their faith together.

The ritual goes back to Abraham, the common ancestor of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths. Abraham had a child with his servant, Hagar, a baby named Ishmael. Many of the rituals are based on a story in which Hagar, left alone in the desert with the baby, finds food and water to keep them both alive.

The hajj rituals are deeply important to Muslims. They are very well explained here and here. But the best way to learn about the hajj, and Islam, is by becoming friends with Muslims you may know and asking them questions about their faith.

In learning more about Islam, it’s interesting to note what an important role the number five plays in Islam. There are five pillars of Islam, which includes proclaiming that there is only one God, promising to donate generously to charitable works, fasting during Ramadan, daily prayer, and performing the hajj pilgrimage.

The hajj lasts five days and has a number of activities that must be performed or the hajj is invalid.

Finally, Muslims pray five times each day.

In other faiths, different numbers and rituals take on important meaning. Learning more about other religions helps us understand our beliefs even better.

Here are some great resources geared toward children to help them learn more about Islam.

Islam for Kids

BBC Schools, Islam: An Introduction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Kids Should Know About Libya

Libya has been in the news recently as the United States and other nations enforce a “no fly zone” to help protect Libyan citizens who do not agree with their current government.

Without going too deeply into the situation in Libya, which may be overwhelming for children, it is an opportunity to teach kids about Libya and its place in the world.

Libya – whose official name is Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – is located in North Africa. It is the fourth-largest country in Africa and the 17th largest in the world.

The country is mostly covered by the Libyan Desert, which is one of the driest, hottest places on earth.

Some parts of the desert have not had rain for more than 13 years. The highest temerpature that has been recorded in the desert is 136 degrees Fahrenheit!

The majority of people live in cities and are primarily concentrated close to the coastline with the Mediterranean Sea.

Islam is the major religion in Libya. While most people practice Sunni Islam, there are also Coptic Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics.

Arabic is the primary language spoken in Libya but there are many people from other countries living in Libya, including people from Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Egypt, and Italy. Italian and English is sometimes spoken in the larger cities.

Libya is a very young country – half of the people there are 15 years old or younger.

Fortunately, every child in Libya has access to a free education through secondary (high) school.

In fact, Libya has the highest literacy rate in Africa. More than 82 percent of the people can read and write.

Family is very important to Libyans and they are accustomed to living close to each other. There are more than 140 tribes or clans and people strongly associate with their tribe.

Libyan food is very similar to the rest of North Africa. Staples of a Libyan diet include: couscous, olives, soups, dates, grains, and milk. Following the meal, most people consume several glasses of black tea.

Libya is a beautiful, historic country facing many challenges but hopefully the Libyan people will soon be living in peace.

Libyan Desert

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan 2010 began today – so Ramadan Mubarak to the 1.6 billion friends, neighbors, and relatives around the world celebrating the holiest month of the Islamic calendar.

If you’re interested in reading more about Ramadan and sharing what you learn with your children, check out these books on Amazon.com or ask your local librarian for recommendations.

If you’d like to know how Muslims are celebrating around the world, read this article from the Christian Science Monitor and see how Muslims from New Jersey to Israel to Indonesia are marking the month. In New Jersey, school administrators in ten districts are canceling classes on the final day of the month of Ramadan.

And, if you’re like me and curious about attending services at a mosque, you can watch Friday services online at www.alhikmatlive.com, and watch other video content provided by an imam in Miami. (For more information on the project, read the Miami Herald article about it.)

The important thing is to expand your knowledge about Islam and Muslims and share that with your children. Because we all have to share this one planet, so we’d better find ways to get along. And that’s a worthy project for the holiest Muslim month of the year – no matter what religion you practice.

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