What to Know About Ramadan

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What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a time of fasting, prayer, reflection, and improvement. It is a commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s first revelation, during which he was visited by an angel who revealed to him the beginning of the Qur’an, the sacred holy book of Islam.

Why is Ramadan at a different time each year?

The general dates are decided according to the Islamic calendar, but the specific start and end dates depend on the lunar cycle. Ramadan goes from the first sighting of the crescent moon to the next. This year, Ramadan began on the evening of March 22nd and will end on the evening of April 20th.

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars, or duties, of Islam. There are many underlying principles behind this obligation. Fasting during Ramadan teaches self-control, reinforces one’s faith, and helps one be more mindful and thankful. Fasting also reminds Muslims of the less fortunate, and they are expected to do Zakat-al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan. Zakat-al-Fitr is a cleansing of wealth in which Muslims give directly to the poor and needy, specifically at least 2.5% of all their accumulated wealth.

Are Muslims not allowed to eat for the entire month?

During Ramadan, Muslims must fast from sunrise to sunset. Most have a meal before sunrise known as sahar and a meal after sunset known as iftar. Fasting during Ramadan is fard (obligatory) for most Muslims unless they are

  1. Chronically ill
  2. Pre-adolescent children
  3. Traveling
  4. Elderly 
  5. Breastfeeding or Pregnant
  6. Diabetic
  7. Menstruating

In some of these circumstances, such as days not fasted due to menstruation, the days missed must be made up once Ramadan is over.

Do Muslims also not drink water during Ramadan?

From sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, Muslims do not consume water or food. However, anything consumed on accident does not break a fast, thus some may drink water (often during the first transitional days).

Is fasting the only thing Muslims do during Ramadan?

Ramadan is a time of self-improvement and self-control. In addition to fasting from sunrise to sunset, Muslims are expected to refrain from smoking, drinking liquor, and similar “dunya” activities. Married couples are expected to refrain from sexual activity while fasting. 

There is also an additional prayer known as “tarawih” after the usual last prayer of the day, “isha.” This prayer is a sunnah, which means the Prophet did so during his life and is recommended, but not obligatory. All faith-related activities such as reading Qur’an or taking part in the five obligatory daily prayers and tarawih are considered more highly rewarded in the eyes of God according to the Qur’an. Thus, Muslims are encouraged to spend more time and energy on these spiritual or religious activities during Ramadan.

What happens after Ramadan?

Eid-al-Fitr is a celebration of the end of Ramadan. It is celebrated during the first three days of the tenth month in the Islamic calendar. Although the specifics of the celebration vary in different cultures, they often include visiting family and friends, exchanging presents, having a feast, giving money to younger people who fasted, and visiting the graves of relatives.

Malika is a senior and second-year journalist. In her free time, she likes to read and listen to music. Malika is also involved in soccer and website design.

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