As the start of Ramadan draws closer, we explore what it is and what it involves for the millions of Muslims who take part in it every year.
When is Ramadan?
The start of Ramadan will be determined by the sighting of the new moon, the Muslim Council of Britain says. This year it starts on either the 26th or the 27th of May and lasts for one month. This year Ramadan will end on either the 26th or the 27th June.
The start and end of Ramadan changes from year-to-year as it is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar calendar, where each month begins at the start of a new moon; due to lunar months being shorter than solar months. Ramadan typically occurs eleven days earlier each year. The start and end of Ramadan also varies by country, depending on when the first moon is sighted.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, including prayer (salat), giving to charity (zakat), making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and a belief in the Muslim faith (shahadah).
Ramadan marks the month that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammed. During the month of Ramadan many Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from food, water, smoking and sexual activity during daylight hours. During their fast, Muslims will have one meal before the sun rises, called suhoor and have another meal with family and friends after the sun has set, called iftar.
Ramadan is a holy month that many Muslims use to focus on their prayers and the reading of the Quran. Individuals are also encouraged to give generously to charities and neighbours during this time, as Ramadan is a period of time for Muslims to reflect, have patience, self-restraint and show their generosity to good causes in order to bring them closer to Allah.
Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan from the age that they reach puberty, however, some people start fasting before this time. Individuals are not required to fast if they are ill, elderly, suffering from a mental illness, travelling, pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating. However, those who would usually fast but are unable to due to illness or travel are required to complete their fast later on.
What happens when Ramadan ends?
Ramadan ends after a month of fasting, the breaking of fast is celebrated by a festival called Eid al-Fitr. During this period of festivity, Muslims wish each other a happy Eid by saying “Eid Mubarak” and will often meet with family and friends in order to eat and pray with one another. Eid-al-Fitr can last for up to three days and people often give money to charity during this period of time.
Have a Happy Ramadan!
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