Experiencing Hajj in Frodsham

Paul Smalley and a small number of Year 1 Undergraduate RE students were recently invited to take part in the Cheshire West & Chester SACRE Primary Pupil conference.  This two-day event, funded by a generous grant from NASACRE and organised by Naomi Anstice, was held at the Forest Hills Hotel in Frodsham and brought together over 100 primary school children from a range of primary schools

SACRE RE Program

The session we had been invited to deliver was an experiential Hajj.  Pupils from Years 5 and 6 began by hearing about how Muslim pilgrims enter a state of Ihram before the begin their pilgrimage.  Pupils then washed their hands, promised to themselves that they would enter into the activities as much as possible and try to do their best, before donning a sheet of white flipchart paper.  This made us realise how pilgrims get a real sense of unity when all are dressed the same.

The children circled the Ka’ba, before hearing a story and replicating Hajar’s desperate seach for water as they looked for a hidden bottle of ‘Special Zam-Zam Water’. Before bedding down for the first (rather noisy!) night, pupils used iPads to record the first of their video diaries.

I enjoyed the Hajj acting and learnt that Muslims get to go to sleep on pilgrimage

The video diaries helped me to remember what we had already done

The pupils held their hands up on the Mount of mercy whilst thinking about what problem they would want solving in the world, or what they had done wrong and might need to put right.  They listened to the story of Ibrahim’s sacrifice and then, before the second night’s video diary and ‘sleep’, they each collected seven post it notes from around the room.

I liked learning about the story of Ibraham and how he sacrificed a sheep instead of his son

Today I learned about the pilgrims going on Hajj and I enjoyed acting the different parts and using the ipads to record our family diary

The next morning the pupils thought deeply and wrote on their post it notes seven things that they might be tempted to do, even though they know they are bad, before scrunching them up and throwing them at a jamarah, like the pillars representing Shaytan in Makkah.

I really enjoyed the pilgrimage today

Then to celebrate Eid-ul-adha, a sheep (cake) was sacrificed and shared out by each family, before compleing Hajj with a final Tawaf and a last video diary.

I loved sacrificing the sheep cake

I loved making a film and sacrificing a sheep

We liked the practical way to introduce Hajj to children

Good ideas for teachers to take back to schools. Our children partically enjoyed the experiential Hajj and it was good to hear then reflect about our RE  lessons back in school.