Every year nearly 1.8 billion Muslims around the world partake in a month-long period of fasting during Ramadan. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is important to note that not all Muslim countries or communities mark the start of Ramadan on the same day. The first day of the holy month relies on the visibility of the new crescent moon. This year Ramadan will start in mid-May and end in mid-June.
Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan to strengthen their connection to God as it provides a time of reflection and introspection. Muslims not only fast from food and water but also refrain from smoking and sexual activity. Moreover, many Muslims view this time as a spiritual renewal abstaining from unkind words and behaviors such as gossiping and cursing. This cleansing and purification of the soul intensify one’s connection to God. It is a profoundly personal communion one embarks on by feeding the metaphysical spirit rather than focusing on the physical needs of the body. It is customary during Ramadan to add additional prayers and to study the Quran more thoroughly as well. Although charity, Zakat, is a staple in Islam additionally charitable donations and volunteerism increase during Ramadan.
The Holy Month of Ramadan
Ramadan is the holiest of months. Believed to be the month that the Prophet Muhammad revealed the first verses of the Quran.
All healthy Muslim who have reached puberty are required to fast, which can range from 10-21 hours a day. However, there are exceptions for the elderly, sick, kids, pregnant and nursing women. Each day “Suhoor,” a pre-dawn meal, begins the fast and at night “iftar” breaks the fast. These meals are a time for families to come together.
Eid Al-Fitr concludes Ramadan and is one of the most significant observances in Islam, a three-day celebration marked with family and friends, gifts, and of course food.
Interestingly, Ramadan reflects not only a pan Muslim culture but the intricacies of local communities and cultures. For example, Muslims in the USA commemorate slightly differently than in Pakistan. However, the most fundamental principle is that one uses this time to reflect and convene with God. It is a special month filled with love and joy.
Learn more about Ramadan from CAI here.
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