UK school bans students from fasting during Ramazan

Published: June 13, 2015
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The rule is also to be implemented at other schools. PHOTO: THE INDEPENDENT

The rule is also to be implemented at other schools. PHOTO: THE INDEPENDENT

LONDON: 

A primary school in London’s east end has sparked controversy for banning Muslim students from observing Ramazan at school. 

A letter informed parents that while the school appreciated what Ramazan meant to Muslims, they would be banning the practice of fasting on school grounds.

“We have sought guidance and are reliably informed that in Islamic law, children are not required to fast during Ramazan, only being required to do so when they become adults,” the letter from the Leyton school said.

The school also said that they understood that the age of adulthood was disputed, however, “in Islamic Law, the health of an individual [was] the first priority.”

Further, the letter added, “Previously, we have had a number of children who became ill and children who have fainted or been unable to fully access the school curriculum in their attempts to fast.”

Read: UK Ramazan sales attract Muslim shoppers from as far as Middle East

As the school policy had the same purpose as Islamic law — “to safeguard the health and education of the child” — it would not allow children to fast at the school, advising that older children take part in fasting at the weekends.

The rule was also to be implemented at other schools within the Lion Academy Trust.

As the decision came under immense criticism from some members of the Muslim community, a spokesperson from the Muslim Association of Britain said that parents had the right over the final choice on their children fasting.

“We believe that there are sufficient and stringent rules within Islam, which allow those who are unable to fast, to break fast,” the spokesperson said, adding that the rules included those who were medically ill, too young or too old.

The CEO of the Lion Academy Trust in a statement on the school’s website said that if parents were considering letting their child fast during school hours, “you will need to meet with your Head of School individually to discuss how we ensure the safety and well being of your child whilst still ensuring that they are part of the Ramazan celebration.”

A copy of the letter can be found below:

News of the new rule quickly made its way to social media and many took to Twitter to express their views.

This article originally appeared on The Independent 

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Anushe
    Jun 13, 2015 - 3:28PM

    talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s a ‘primary’ school, meaning children enrolled are under the age of twelve and so fasts are not obligatory for them. Secondly, with an 18 hour fast time in the UK currently, it is unrealistic to expect children to be able to fast on a regular basis and keep up with school activity.
    It’s a personal decision for the parents. Why publish nonsense and create hoopla when there’s nothing unreasonable being said? Create islamophobia when there is none?Recommend

  • Bewildered
    Jun 13, 2015 - 3:43PM

    I think the school’s concern for the students health is very genuine and their decision to ban on fasting does not seem to be based on discrimination or some phobia. So, please don’t make it a religious issue.Recommend

  • Jun 13, 2015 - 4:21PM

    it is against religious freedom. i am a strictly opposed to make someone observe fast in ramadan as it is done in some madrasas. similarly, i am against this kind of ruling. people should be free to practice his/her religion as long as it doesn’t hurt others. Recommend

  • SuperWitty Smitty
    Jun 13, 2015 - 4:27PM

    While this concern is understandable, do they REALLY think this is going to be in any way productive? Do the school officials REALLY thin the local Muslim population is going to agree with and/or go along with this? It seems like a breathtakingly ignorant approach.Recommend

  • Brian Scott Wilson
    Jun 13, 2015 - 4:27PM

    While I appreciate the schools concerns for the well being of the students, they are not the student’s parents and have no business dictating the religious practices of those who attend the school. Students and young people in the middle east fast for Ramadan with no ill effects despite a more stressful environment and weather conditions.

    Most Muslim parents of primary school age children don’t make them observe the fast as they would be considered to young, and it might be wise to have someone council with the parents who are considering the issue and explain the concerns involved rather than try to dictate to them. It would also be a good idea to reach out to the local Muslim community and leadership to address the issue. A letter like this will easily be seen as offensive.Recommend

  • Jay Shah
    Jun 13, 2015 - 5:06PM

    I FULLY agree with the school and DISAGREE with those who think that this is matter for the parents to decide. If some thoughtless parents are making their LITTLE ones fast and they get sick in school, the authorities have every right to prohibit it.

    Islam, like all religions of Allah, is about love, compassion, graciousness, consideration and forgiveness. Making small children fast goes against that spiritRecommend

  • Ashraf
    Jun 13, 2015 - 5:46PM

    Don’t involve children in all these archaic practices. Let them decide what to do when they’re old enough to understand it.Recommend

  • Tiscali
    Jun 13, 2015 - 6:39PM

    Allah is very kind and has given many ‘sahulat’ in religion. Primaryschool children are not required to fast but some parents refuse to take advantage of this sahulat. Indeed man is unkind. Why to make religion so complicated and difficult?Recommend

  • Ram Dargad
    Jun 13, 2015 - 7:50PM

    @atherkhanturi:
    ‘it is against religious freedom’ What if the religious belief of school prohibits it from starving young students?
    ‘as long as it doesn’t hurt others.’ If a child student faints in school, it hurts others.
    Maybe those who want their young children to fast should build special schools which shall have facilities to check blood sugar, BP & provide emergency medical aid.
    What if teacher’s religious belief calls for periodic Namaz even during his school timings? Should he be allowed to interrupt the class & go for Namaz?Recommend

  • Mukhtar
    Jun 13, 2015 - 7:55PM

    In complete agreement with school’s decision. Very appropriate and needed.
    Just how are they going to implement it?
    Tube feeding, or force feeding!!
    Should a 12 years old defy, what recourse will the system have?Recommend

  • Mahroos Anwar
    Jun 13, 2015 - 8:29PM

    Fasting is compulsory for The Children about age 14 and fasting not for make child above 14 sick that is why Allah allow for those to fasting and Allah knows better than All the school’s principal and teachers and those who support it that fasting is better for which .. because Allah knows my needs better than me because he made me and whole of the world’s and he is greatest.

    And fasting made a MUSLIM stronger but he feel illness actually he makes stronger that is why Allah (sw) compulsory for a MUSLIM …
    I am also have 14 age three years ago…….Recommend

  • OK
    Jun 14, 2015 - 2:13AM

    Its not against religious freedom, if they want their children to keep fasts, they can discuss it with the headmaster so arrangements can be made as mentioned in the letter. Why spread propaganda guys, they haven’t “banned” it per se.Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Jun 14, 2015 - 2:23AM

    @atherkhanturi:
    Remember, UK is a majority Christian country. I live in UK and will follow their laws. It is people like you who have made our name bad. We have the highest crime record in UK and it continues to go up annually.
    Saudi Arabia has banned building of Churches and temples. Why don’t you start ranting about religious freedom when it comes to other religion? In Pakistan, non muslims cannot stand for highest office but you find that acceptable.
    You really need quality education. I suggest you get it immediately.Recommend

  • Masroor Bangesh
    Jun 14, 2015 - 6:25AM

    Million of kids across Pakistan aspire to join their elders in sehri, day-long-fast, and iftar – and are not allowed by their parents, except on a couple of days. I remember it from my childhood days. What this British school is implementing, is already in force in muslim countries. What is all this fuss about?Recommend

  • Jun 14, 2015 - 9:31AM

    @Ram Dargad: no one is starving children. if the child don’t want to observe fast, no one can stop him/her from drinking or eating. almost all the muslim parents don’t let their young children to observe fast regularly but in the weekends and in 27th ramadan. i in my entire life never heard anyone to get sick observing fast. i am observing fast completely from my age of 10 despite my parents insisting not to. i am a shia muslims and our fast is even longer than sunni muslims. you have a very derogatory image of muslims in your head. get it clean. Recommend

  • Jun 14, 2015 - 9:36AM

    @Iqbal: most of the people in UK are christians but it is constitutionally a secular country. so a muslim has equal right as a citizen as a christian. and thus he/she has every right to practice his/her religion as long as it is not harming others or obstructing their rights. give a simple reason why shouldn’t i demand religious freedom as i am a strong supporter of it. i demand religious freedom for all. Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 14, 2015 - 11:08AM

    Misleading headline. Bad journalism.Recommend

  • Mohammad
    Jun 14, 2015 - 11:45AM

    If they have done their research and consulted with prominent and really Muslim scholars, they are good to go! Recommend

  • DG
    Jun 14, 2015 - 1:48PM

    Considering the strict adherence of the Muslims about their religious practices, which often disrupts the adopted country’s practice and tradition, it would be ideal for such immigrants not to immigrate to countries where Islam is not the major religion.

    The trend in today’s Muslim world is getting more and more religious and more and more abhorrence of other sects and religions. This is separating them from others and the divide is only increasing thanks to the extreme sections of the Muslim population, which has acquired a signification voice and control over the Muslim world.

    It is time for introspection in total Muslim world, whether they would like to remain separate or get along with others as human beings keeping the personal religious beliefs to home only.

    Hope this passes through the ET censorRecommend

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