Ramadan is a religious ceremony that marks the month (or 30 days) in which the Koran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
In Islam, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year. It’s a time for Muslims to reaffirm their faith and dedication to Allah. By taking part in Ramadan, Muslims aim to grow spiritually and build stronger relationships with their creator.
During the 30 days, Muslims are encouraged to perform several rituals, sacrifices and acts of charity.
How do Muslims observe Ramadan?
Most notably, Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting between sunrise and sunset.
Fasting allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith while practising self-discipline. Going without food during Ramadan is also a way for Muslims to identify with the suffering of the poor.
However, children, pregnant women, the elderly, ill people or breastfeeding mothers don’t have to fast. If you’re unable to fast, there’s an obligation to pay to feed those who are less fortunate by either donating to charity or gifting money to loved ones.
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During Ramadan, it’s common for Muslims to have one meal – the suhoor, just before sunrise and another – the iftar, directly after sunset.
Eating the suhoor usually means waking up well before dawn to eat a high-protein meal and drinking as much water as possible right up until sunrise. However, most Muslims will divide the iftar into a light snack before their evening prayers, followed by a larger meal afterwards.
Almost all Muslims try to give up habits such as smoking and nail-biting during Ramadan.
When is Ramadan in 2021?
Ramadan takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic (or lunar) calendar.
In 2021, Ramadan starts on the evening of Monday, April 12th and ends on the evening of Wednesday, May 12th.
As Islam follows the lunar calendar, Ramadan does not usually occur during a calendar month, and the exact dates change every year.
|Did you know? In some Nordic countries, the fasting period can last up to 20 hours or more. In these cases, religious authorities let Muslims fast along with the closest Muslim country or Saudi Arabia.|
Interestingly, Ramadan’s timetable is often disputed each year due to differing observations of the moon movements. Even popular search engines add a ‘dates may vary’ disclaimer to queries about the beginning and end of Ramadan.
Perhaps the most important parts of Ramadan are its prayers, known as tarawih or taraweeh. Ramadan prayers are recited by Muslims after sunset and immediately after they’ve eaten the iftar. These prayers are recited throughout Ramadan in addition to the daily isha (five mandatory) prayers.
|Fun fact: The iftar is divided into two meals because typical Muslim prayers involve repetitive bending down, prostrating and standing up. By eating a light snack after sunset, it’s more comfortable to pray afterwards.|
Many Muslims will attempt to read all of the Koran during Ramadan while also attending special services at their local mosques.
As the Koran contains 30 juz’ (sections), some Muslims will try to read one juz’ during their tarawih prayers for 30 days.
What are typical Ramadan greetings?
During Ramadan, it’s common to hear Muslims greet each other with Ramadan Mubarak (Have a blessed Ramadan) or Ramadan Kareem (Have a generous Ramadan).
Even if you don’t practice Islam, you can use either greeting to wish your Muslim friends a happy Ramadan during the holy month.
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
Muslims mark the end of Ramadan with a celebration called Eid Al-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast). While Ramadan is a time for prayer and reflection, its conclusion is an opportunity to thank God through acts of generosity.
And given the testing nature of Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr is one of the biggest celebrations in Islam. As well as enjoying elaborate feasts, most Muslims will donate significant amounts of money to charities during this time.
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