Most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan — the month of piety, charity and blessings — each year.
Ramadan is a very special time for Muslims all over the world. For that reason, we have decided to share some general facts about and information about this holy and special month.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the holy month of fasting. It begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon. Because the Muslim calendar year is shorter than the Gregorian calendar year, Ramadan begins 10–12 days earlier each year, allowing it to fall in every season throughout a 33-year cycle.
This year, as per astronomical calculations, Sha’ban (last lunar month before Ramadan, and so Muslims determine in it when the first day of Ramadan fasting will be) is expected to last 30 days, with the holy month of Ramadan likely to begin on March 23.
Why is Ramadan a holy month?
It is regarded as the holiest month of the year as it was the month in which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammad on the night of Laylat Al Qadr, one of the last ten nights of Ramadan.
Ramadan is also the month of piety, charity and blessings. During Ramadan, capable Muslims are required to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. Such fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam — fasting encourages them to practice patience, modesty and spirituality. Besides that, it is also time for Muslims to pray for guidance and help, ask for forgiveness for past sins, and think of those less fortunate than themselves. This in turn encourages charity (also one of the pillars of Islam).
Are all Muslims expected to fast?
Not all Muslims are expected to fast. Children under the age of 12, people who are travelling, elderly people, pregnant women and others where it may affect their health are exempt. Those who can't fast for any reason can offer to feed poor people for each day they miss during Ramadan.
Fasting in Ramadan
Suhoor is a meal traditional eaten before sunrise and Fajr (the first of the 5 daily prayers, which is performed before dawn.)
Five times everyday, the Athan calls muslims for prayer. After Suhoor, Imsak marks the time to commence fasting until Athan Al Maghreb (sunset), when muslims can break their fast with a meal known as Iftar.
How is the end of Ramadan celebrated?
Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the month of fasting. There are many Eid traditions, mainly centred around family, food, generosity and festivities. On Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims wake up early and dress in their finest clothes to attend the Eid prayers. After prayers, they wish each other a happy Eid ('Eid Mubarak' in Arabic) before spending the rest of the day with their extended families, enjoying good food and sharing gifts with children and loved ones.
Want to know more about Eid festivities? Click here and have a look at our past post about it!
Common greetings during Ramadan include Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem, which mean (have a) "blessed Ramadan" and "generous Ramadan" respectively.
So… Ramadan Kareem from the YOKO team!