Ramadan is the ninth month of the year according to the Islamic Calendar, but perhaps more importantly it is the month in which Muslims all over the world fast for the 30 days of the month. Fasting – also known as Sawm – is also one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith.
The five pillars are Shahdah (profession of faith), Salat (the ritual of prayer), Zakat (the act of donation to the poor and needy), Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims, unless they are exempt, are expected to refrain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset, encouraging them to devote themselves to prayer.
When does Ramadan take place?
Because the start of Ramadan coincides with the first appearance of the full moon in the night sky, the exact date for the first day of Ramadan is not known precisely. However, it is estimated that the Ramadan 2023 dates run from March 22nd to April 20th. Ramadan is considered the holiest, most sacred month of the year.
What is a typical day during Ramadan?
A typical Ramadan day starts before sunrise when a Muslim will perform prayers prior to eating Suhoor -Suhoor is the first meal of the day which is eaten before starting a fast.
Once Suhoor has been eaten and tidied away, fasting commences. Fasting during Ramadan requires complete abstinence from eating, drinking, and smoking. The discipline required encourages Muslims to turn their thoughts to prayer and contemplation of their faith.
All Muslims are expected to fast, though there are exceptions, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, or women who are menstruating, children who have not yet reached puberty, adults who are old and frail, and those who are suffering from mental illness.
The fast lasts until sundown – this often means that during the summer months, the fast lasts much longer than during the winter months.
Typically, fasting is broken by drinking a glass of water and eating a couple of dates. Then after prayers, friends and families gather for Iftar – the fasting meal.
What happens if you break your fast?
There may be occasions when a Muslim unintentionally breaks their fast – possibly they are sick or travelling. In this case, they are expected to make up for the lost days. However, should someone break their fast intentionally, then they are considered to have sinned and must repent accordingly. They must make up the days and repent to Allah, and continually seek forgiveness through prayer and further fasting.
Night of Power
The Night of Power – also known as Laylat al Qadr – typically takes place one night during the last 10 days of Ramadan and it is believed that by devoting the night to prayers and devotion to Allah, by carrying out acts of kindness and compassion, by reciting the Holy Qur’an, by fulfilling charitable deeds, your rewards will be magnified to be equivalent to that of a thousand months.
By giving up sleep during this holiest of nights, it is believed that all sins will be pardoned.
How is the end of Ramadan celebrated?
While Ramadan is known as the month for fasting, it is also a month that ends in three days of celebration and festivities known as Eid al Fitr. This is a time when families and friends come together, eat food and pray. In fact, it is strictly forbidden to fast during these three days. Rather, everyone is encouraged to dress up in their finest clothes – children are often treated with new outfits.