11 April 2019, The Tablet

Ramadan is a social ritual while Lent appears to be a very private one

Ramadan is a social ritual while Lent appears to be a very private one

According to US News & World Report (an American online news site), 80 per cent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. According to a Pew Research Centre 2012 study, in 39 different countries, a median of 93 per cent of Muslims observe the Ramadan fast. I can find no statistics at all on what percentage of Catholics – or of Christians more widely – keep our Lenten discipline, including both the formal “requirements” of the Church and more personal intentions (usually described as “giving up”, which is perhaps unfortunate).

Ninety-three per cent is impressively high – and the Ramadan fast makes demands on Muslims far more rigorous than ours (whether or not this is a “good thing” is a separate issue). In the late 1980s I was chair of governors at a state primary school in the East End of London and we shifted the pupils’ PE classes to the morning during Ramadan because we felt that expecting fasting primary school children to participate in afternoon sport was too much.

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