The People of the Ditch were believers who held fast onto the rope of Allah through terrible trials. Their story is told in surah Al Buruj (85:1-10) of the Qur'an.
By the heaven holding the big stars.
And by the Promised Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection).
And by the Witnessing day (i.e. Friday), and by the Witnessed day [i.e. the day of 'Arafat (Hajj) the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah];
Cursed were the people of the Ditch (in the story of the Boy and the King).
Of fire fed with fuel,
When they sat by it (fire),
And they witnessed what they were doing against the believers (i.e. burning them).
And they had no fault except that they believed in Allah, the All-Mighty, Worthy of all Praise.
To Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth! And Allah is Witness over everything.
Verily, those who put into trial the believing men and believing women (by torturing them and burning them), and then do not turn in repentance (to Allah), then they will have the torment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the burning Fire.
You might like to read Ibn Kathir's commentary in Stories of the Qur'an.
Lesson and Activity
To understand this story you'd have to read the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (s) which is included in Ibn Kathir's commentary.
Basically, there was a king who had a magician who wanted an apprentice. The boy believed in Allah so the king wanted him killed. But no matter how many times he tried to have the boy killed they couldn't do it because the boy had faith in Allah and made dua asking Allah to save him. That is, until the boy told the king that if he really wanted to kill him then the king would have to gather the people to witness the king saying "In the name of Allah, Lord of the worlds" while shooting an arrow towards the boy tied up against a tree. When the people witnessed this they immediately believed in Allah. The king didn't like this so he had ditches dug up with fire burning inside and told the people that if they don't turn back from believing in Allah then they'd have to jump into the ditch.
There are so many lessons here but the main one you can focus on is to remain faithful even in the face of trials and tribulations.
This is just an idea for a lesson. If you have any others then feel free to do them and share.
There are so many other lessons to learn. Can you think of any others? I'd love to hear them. Please write in the comment below.
At the end of this Ramadan Reading Challenge, if you or your children have participated then you will get a prize (not sure what yet - will keep you updated). To be eligible, please leave a comment on what lesson you have learnt from the reading of the story and include any activities that you did to extend it. Just a line or two would be fine (so that I can contact you).