Ramadan is the holiest month of the year in the Islamic culture. For Muslims, it’s a time for spiritual reflection and growth, to help those in need, and to spend time with loved ones. It’s also a time when Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours for the whole month of Ramadan. What follows is more deliberation about Ramadan traditions and customs, and why it’s so important to the Islamic faith.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Muslims observe this sacred month of Ramadan to mark when Allah sent an Archangel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to reveal the Holy Quran, the Islamic holy book, in the year 610 CE. This revelation is known as the “night of power” or “Laylat al Qadr” in Arabic.
When is Ramadan?
The beginning and end of Ramadan change every year as it is based on the Islamic lunar calendar and the moon cycles. The start of Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the new crescent moon by at least two just people. Even though Muslims wait for the new moon’s appearance before announcing the first day of Ramadan, they can estimate its approximate arrival. This year’s (2022) Ramadan is predicted to begin on April 3 and end on May 2 with the Eid al-Fitr celebration. The month of Ramadan usually lasts between 29 to 30 days, depending on when the new crescent moon is sighted.
What is the main purpose of Ramadan?
During Ramadan, Muslims aim to grow spiritually and become closer to Allah and their loved ones. They do this by fasting and abstaining from pleasures like eating, drinking, etc. between sunrise and sunset each day. Ramadan is also a time for unity and spiritual reflection and Muslims spend time praying, reciting the Holy Quran, and doing good deeds. They donate to charity, spend time with loved ones, and avoid lying, gossiping, and fighting.
Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
Fasting is important during Ramadan as it allows Muslim to devote themselves to their faith, get closer to Allah, and learn patience and compassion. It’s about nourishing one’s soul, rather than only focusing on your physical body. It’s also the second of the Furu’ al-din or ancillaries of the religion of Islam, which are of great importance in the lives of Muslims.
Fasting is usually done by all Muslims except those who are sick, pregnant, lactating, menstruating, elderly, or traveling. If one misses the obligatory fasting days (for any of these valid reasons) they can make up for them throughout the year.
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
A special festival called Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and to celebrate successfully completing one month of fasting and abiding by God Almighty’s command. It begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky. It’s a joyous occasion, with Muslims celebrating the end of fasting and giving thanks to Allah and paying Zakat al-Fitrah (an obligatory act in jurisprudence which means to give charity to the needy, by a certain amount and method of calculation, on the day of Eid al-Fitr. The obligatory amount of zakat al-fitra upon each person; based on the usual main food- is one sa’ – around 3 Kg. – of either wheat, barley, date, or raisin; or its equal in cash).
On the Eid al-Fitr day, Muslims attend special Eid prayers in the morning and greet each other. As a symbol of unity, Ramadan is a time when Muslims from all over the world come together to celebrate their faith.