Millions of Muslims around the world are observing Ramadan; a religious annual observance marked by intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and charity. Ramadan, usually the ninth month in the Islamic calendar is considered the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. It is dedicated to purifying the mind and body,
It is believed by Muslims that it was during this month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran (Islam’s sacred text) to Mohammed, on a night known as “The Night of Power” (or Laylat al-Qadr in Arabic)
Here are 7 facts other facts you should know about the observance:
Start of Ramadan
This is determined by the sighting of the new moon which varies from place to place depending on weather conditions. As a result, Ramadan holiday is declared differently based on location.
Because Islam functions on a lunar calendar and doesn’t quite link up with the solar Gregorian calendar that the secular world uses, the date changes every year. That said, while Muslim holidays are always the same day on the Muslim calendar, they happen on different days on the Gregorian calendar – typically moving 11 or 12 days earlier each year.
Muslims during the month of Ramadan are expected to fast from dusk until dawn. Fasting is considered to be one of the Five Pillars of Islam which all Muslims must follow; Shahada:, Salat:, Zakat:, Sawm:, Hajj:. However worthy of note is the fact that Ramadan isn’t just about avoiding food and drinks, it’s about refraining from bad habits (not that they’re permitted anyway, but doing them during this time is really bad)
Those exempted from the fast
Unless ill, pregnant, or diabetic, breastfeeding, traveling or younger than age 10, Muslims are required to fast during daylight.
Meals before/ after fast
The meal before the beginning of the fast ( pre-dawn meal) is called ‘Suhoor’ while the one after sunset ( evening meal) is called ‘Iftar’.
Most Non Muslims think that Ramadan is all about fasting, charity plays a major role too in the month long religious observance. Muslims are obliged to give charity on a regular basis in the form of either Zakat ( mandatory giving), or Sadaqa ( voluntary giving). The rewards of charity are considered greater during Ramadan.
End of Ramadan
The end of Ramadan is marked by a large festival- ‘Eid ul Fitr,’. This festival is to celebrate the end of the fast. As soon as the new moon is sighted in the sky, the celebration kicks off. Muslims celebrate by decking in their best clothing, attending large processions, giving gifts, spending time with their family, and having a large meal during the day. It is expected that Muslims contribute a certain amount to charity so that the poor can join the celebration of the breaking of the fast. Eid ul Fitr is also considered a time of reverence. Muslims praise Allah (God) for helping them get through the month, and ask for forgiveness for the sins they’ve committed. It is one of the two major holidays of Islam.