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What is Ramadan?

March 30, 2023

Since Ramadan is happening, I figured I'd explain what it is, how it is observed, and a little bit about its history because I'm starting to realize that more and more people don't know what it actually is and why Muslims around the world observe it, or when I tell them I can't eat or drink water from sunrise to sunset, it blows their minds and their first question is why I would want to do that to myself.

What is it?

To begin, in Islam, the month of Ramadan, which occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is regarded as the holiest month of the year. Throughout the month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from all forms of food and drink, as well as smoking and indulging in sexual activity.

When is it?

Ramadan is expected to begin on Thursday, March 23, 2023; however, this date will be validated by an official moon sighting as the holy month approaches. If everything goes according to plan, the annual 30-day fast will end on Friday, April 21. The arrival of the new crescent moon marks the start of Ramadan. This sighting can be accomplished with either the naked eye or astronomical computations. In many Muslim countries, the sighting of the moon signals the start of the holy month of Ramadan, and the announcement is made by the government or religious officials. Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the names and lengths of each month are determined by the phases of the moon rather than the sun. As a result, the starting and end dates of Ramadan advance by around 11 days each year in comparison to the Gregorian calendar, which is controlled by the sun's cycle. As a result, the month of Ramadan begins and ends on various dates each year. As a result, in about 33 years, Ramadan will have occurred during each of the four distinct seasons of the year.

How is it Practised?

During Ramadan, Muslims observe a fast from dawn until sunset every day. The pre-dawn meal is called suhoor, and it is typically eaten before the first prayer of the day. The meal is meant to provide sustenance for the day of fasting ahead. Muslims often eat foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates, such as eggs, whole-grain bread, and fruit.

The fast is broken at sunset with a meal called iftar. This meal is often a large feast that includes family and friends. Muslims will typically break the fast with dates and water, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad. After that, they may pray the sunset prayer and then sit down to the main meal. The iftar meal can include a variety of foods, and it is often a time for special dishes and treats.

During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to increase their worship and spiritual practices, such as recitation of the Quran, attending special nightly prayers called Taraweeh, and giving to charity. Many Muslims also try to increase their good deeds and positive actions during Ramadan.

It is worth noting that there are exemptions to fasting during Ramadan for those who are ill, pregnant, breastfeeding, travelling, or have certain medical conditions. They may make up the missed days of fasting at a later time or pay a fidyah (monetary compensation) instead.

Purpose?

Ramadan's purpose is diverse, with various key aims in Islam.

One of the primary goals of Ramadan is to promote self-discipline and self-control. Muslims learn to manage their appetites and acquire more self-awareness by refraining from food, drink, and other physical necessities during the day. This promotes spiritual growth, enhanced attentiveness, and a closer relationship with God.

Ramadan also allows Muslims to reflect on their faith and beg forgiveness for past misdeeds. It is a time of heightened prayer, Quran recitation, and charitable activities. Muslims are encouraged to enhance their good deeds and positive behaviours during this month, which might assist to strengthen their faith and bring them closer to God.

Ramadan is a month for enhanced community and social relationships, in addition to personal spiritual growth. Muslims frequently assemble with family and friends to break the fast together around sunset, which serves to strengthen ties and foster a feeling of community.

The month of Ramadan is also a time for giving to charity, which is an important component of the Islamic faith and helps to support people in need.

Ultimately, Ramadan is a time for enhanced spiritual awareness, self-discipline, and community relationships, as well as an opportunity to ask forgiveness and build greater empathy for others. Ramadan is a very meaningful and significant month in the Islamic faith.

Celebration

Eid al-Fitr is a holiday that is observed at the end of the month of Ramadan. This celebration symbolizes the breaking of the fast and is a time for family gatherings, the exchange of gifts, and the offering of money to charitable organizations.

What can you do?

Ramadan is a holy month in Islam, and its customs are mostly followed by Muslims. Non-Muslims, on the other hand, can still partake in some aspects of Ramadan, such as joining Muslim friends or coworkers for iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast at sundown.

While non-Muslims are not obligated to fast during Ramadan, some people choose to fast in a modified version or to attempt fasting for a day to show solidarity with their Muslim friends. This can be an enriching approach to learning more about Islam and strengthening cross-cultural understanding and connections.

 If you are not Muslim, there are various ways you can express your respect and support for your Muslim friends, colleagues, or neighbours who are fasting throughout Ramadan.

 To begin, it is critical to understand that during Ramadan, Muslims may fast during the day and may need to adjust their work or meeting schedules accordingly. If you know someone who is fasting, try to avoid organizing food-related events or meetings during the day.

During Ramadan, you could also send a word of support or welcome, such as "Ramadan Mubarak" or "Happy Ramadan."

Finally, you can demonstrate your support by being aware of your own behaviour and behaviours. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in the presence of a fasting person, and respect their religious beliefs and customs.

Overall, giving respect and support to those who observe Ramadan can help to strengthen connections and increase understanding among people of different religions and cultures.