Observing the Holy Month of Ramadan
Today is the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. It is a time when Muslims — 1.6 billion people, almost a quarter of the global population — seek to increase their spirituality and religious observance through long prayers and self-control. It is an opportunity to replenish one’s relationship with God.
We wish our Muslim friends “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Blessed Ramadan.”
Today we are pleased to share this brief guide on the meaning of Ramadan to help build understanding of the faith and practices of Muslim neighbors, new members of our community and the billion plus followers around the globe.
p.s. Also check out “Reconciling Faith and Modernity for Ramadan” to find out how fasting impacts the faithful who live in the higher latitudes and experience as much as 22 hours of daylight. [Link] Also check out NewsChannel 5’s “Ramadan Etiquette Guide for Non-Muslims.” [Link]
What is Ramadan?
It’s the Holy Month in the Islamic Calendar, when Muslims fast (also known as sawm) from sunrise to sunset for approximately 30 days. Doing so is one of the five pillars of Islam. The dates change annually as they’re determined by the sighting of a new moon – for many Muslims, from Saudi Arabia. The start and end of Ramadan will be declared the day before.
Can non-Muslims get involved?
Definitely. Many iftar and suhoor events are set up as a way to bring the entire community together. You can check for opportunities online such as the June 5th Iftar at Casa Azafran mentioned on Eventbrite.com.
Even if you haven’t been fasting, you are still welcome to join. Here are a few ways you can get involved:
- Exchange Ramadan greetings, especially at the beginning of the month. The word ‘Kareem’ in the phrase ‘Ramadan Kareem’ is the equivalent to ‘generous’, so the expression means ‘Wish you generous Ramadan’.
- Fast along with your Muslim colleagues for a day or two and break the fast together at the time of iftar.
- Get into the charitable spirit during the Holy Month by donating to charity organizations.
When is Ramadan? On or around May 15 to June 14
When is Eid al-Fitr? On or around June 14 to June 15
When is Eid al-Adha? On or around Ausust 21 to August 25
What is iftar and suhoor?
Iftar is the meal to break the fast after sunset. Suhoor is a meal taken just before sunrise, before the day of fasting starts.
Are there any exceptions where it is acceptable to publicly break the fast?
Generally, fasting is not recommended to people who suffer from medical conditions or women who are pregnant.
What is the significance of charity during Ramadan?
Charity is a very important part of Islam and is even more significant during Ramadan. However, you don’t have to be a Muslim to give during the Holy Month. There are plenty of charitable initiatives.
What is Eid and why are there two?
Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are the main two annual Islamic celebrations. Eid al-Fitr translates as the ‘festival of breaking the fast’ and happens immediately after Ramadan, with festivity, day-time feasts and family gatherings. Customarily, family and friends dress up in new Eid clothes and visit each other’s houses bearing gifts. Many families will also visit the poor and needy in their own communities to make sure they have enough food and water to celebrate themselves. Charity is known as zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, and is particularly significant during Ramadan and the Eids.
Eid al-Adha is the second celebration in the year and translates as the ‘festival of sacrifice.’ And that’s just what it is as, traditionally during this time, animals like sheep and goats are slaughtered in many Muslim countries and communities. It’s approximately 70 days after the end of Ramadan, and marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca (another pillar of Islam). Traditionally, one third of the meat is kept for the family, another third is given to friends and relatives, and the last third is given to the less fortunate. Both Eids are national public holidays in Muslim countries and typically last three days.
Impress your Muslim colleagues and friends by using a few of these (reasonably) easy to remember phrases during Ramadan:
- Ramadan mubarak = Blessed Ramadan
- Ramadan kareem = Happy / generous Ramadan
- Iftar shahy = Have a good iftar
- Mubarak aleik al shahr = May you get the blessings of the month
- Kil aam wa inta fee kheir = May each year pass and you be well
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