There is a huge diversity of religions and festivals all over the world. One such occasion is the month of Ramadan in which Muslims from all around the world fast from dawn to dusk. The ninth month according to the Muslim calendar is a holy period for its followers. As the month Ramadan has begun from the evening of May 15, Muslims are rejoicing in celebration of the festival that will end on the evening of June 14.
As Muslims are fasting during the Ramadan, here are 10 facts about Ramadan that you probably might not be aware of:
The word ‘Ramadan’ means ‘dryness’ or ‘scorching heat’. It is believed that the apex text of Islam religion – the Quran was originally revealed to Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan that begins and ends with the moon, suggesting Ramadan moves 10-11 days forward every year.
2. Practice of fasting
The practice of ‘fasting’ during Ramadan is known as ‘sawm’. One of the five pillars of Islam, Sawm is considered as a foundation of Muslim life that includes faith, charity, prayer and at least one pilgrimage to the ‘Mecca’ in the lifetime.
3. Cleanses the soul!
Ramadan is all about cleansing one’s soul that might have become dirty and bring the Muslims closer to the God and their community. Iftar is the evening meal that is shared with family and friends.
4. Is it obligatory?
Fasting becomes mandatory once the Muslims reach puberty. But since fasting is must for the entire 30 days, certain people are exempted from fasting which includes the elderly, the sick, people who are travelling, children, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or breastfeeding. Others who are fasting must refrain from eating food items, drinking liquids, smoking, having sex and even using swear words.
5. Timing varies from place to place
The fasting time for the billions of Muslims is different throughout the world. Since Ramadan follows the hours of daylight, the fasting time largely varies from place to place. For example, the fasting hours in Iceland can be more than 21 hours while in Australia, it can be only 11 hours. Muslims can either follow the hours of their country or they can adjust according to the timings of Mecca.
6. Charity is important
It is a common practice among Muslims to give more to charity during the month of Ramadan. Charity, being one of the five pillars of Islam, becomes all the way more auspicious during the holy month than any other month of the year.
In certain countries, Muslims are heavily penalized for breaking the fast. It is considered a crime to break the fast in public and offenders can be sent to prison as well in some countries.
8. Holiest night
It is considered that the holiest night of the year falls during the month of Ramadan. According to Islam, ‘Laylat al-Qadr’ or the ‘Night of Power’ is the time when the first verses of the Quran were revealed by the God to Prophet Muhammad, making it the holiest night of the year. However, there is no mention about which specific night it is. But it is believed to be an odd-numbered date during the last ten days of Ramadan.
9. Breaking the fast!
Ramadan begins by sighting the crescent moon or the ‘hilal’ to know the beginning of new month. Then while fasting, Muslims have a meal before dawn which is called ‘suhoor’ and a meal after the sunset called the ‘iftar’. Dates are usually the first food taken during Iftar to break the fast.
10. Celebration marks the end!
The end of Ramadan marks the start of celebration with the holiday of Eid al-Fitr festival. Eid al-Fitr is the harbinger of next lunar month, ‘Shawwal’. Muslims end their fast and greet each other by saying ‘Eid Mubarak’.