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Everything You Need to Know About Ramadan

March 13, 2024

Ramadan is here! You may hear your Muslim friends saying “Ramadan Mubarak!” what does that mean anyway? And what is Ramadan? Why do you hear about it every year?

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims and it is estimated 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide celebrate each year. This means that there is likely someone in your life- a coworker, classmate, teacher, or friend- participating in Ramadan. So I am here to give you the basics on Ramadan.

Some Common Questions: 

What do Muslims do during Ramadan? 

During Ramadan, adult Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. This means they do not eat or drink anything (and yes, that means no water during daylight hours. Fasting is a way to practice God-consciousness, self-discipline, get closer to The Quran (Islam's religious text; comparable to the Bible), and empathy for those less fortunate. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with testimony of faith, five daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca.

When exactly is Ramadan? 

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and its timing changes every year relative to the Gregorian calendar. This is because the Islamic calendar is based on the moon's cycles, so Ramadan begins about ten days earlier each year. So no, you weren't crazy for thinking that Ramadan came at a different time each year!

What is the religious value of Ramadan? 

Ramadan commemorates the month in which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). This makes it a time for increased prayer, recitation of the Quran, and reflection on one's life and faith. Many Muslims feel that Ramadan is a spiritual boost and work extensively on their piousness. 

Ramadan is much more than just fasting. It's a time for spiritual growth, reflection, and community. Muslims use this month to deepen their connection with God, cleanse their soul, and spend time with family and friends in a meaningful way. It's also a time to remember and help those who are less fortunate, fostering a sense of empathy and solidarity.

In essence, Ramadan is a journey of faith, discipline, and community that touches every aspect of a Muslim's life. It's a time to reset spiritually, to purify the heart and mind, and to focus on what truly matters.

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Key Aspects of Ramadan

Suhoor and Iftar: The day starts with a pre-dawn meal called Suhoor, eaten before the fast begins at dawn. The fast is broken after sunset with a meal known as Iftar, which traditionally starts with the eating of dates and drinking water, followed by a larger meal.

Taraweeh Prayers: In addition to the five daily prayers, during Ramadan Muslims perform extra nightly prayers called Taraweeh. These prayers are held in mosques and are a time for communal worship and reading of the Quran.

a person laying on a rug on the ground

Charity: Ramadan is also a time of increased charity and generosity. Muslims are encouraged to give Zakat (obligatory charity) and Sadaqah (voluntary charity) to help those in need.

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Eid al-Fitr: The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a festive day known as Eid al-Fitr. It's a day of joyous celebrations, with special prayers, feasting, and giving of gifts and charity to the poor and no fasting!! I often explain it as our version of Christmas, to get across how excited we are about it!

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How can you be respectful to your Muslim friends during Ramadan?

Just taking the time to try to understand Ramadan is a huge step in trying to be respectful to your Muslim peers. So good job! 

Despite popular belief, Muslims who are fasting don't really care if you eat in front of them. A lot of the time my friends will feel so bad for eating in front of me but honestly, it doesn't affect me at all. So don't worry! Maybe just don't wave your food in their face and offer them food. 

You can also wish your Muslim friends Ramadan Mubarak which translates to Blessed Ramadan but your esstianly saying Happy Ramadan! It will be a pleasant surprise if you wish them a Blessed Ramadan!