Ramadan is a month of fasting observed by most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.
It held in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
The Five Pillars of Islam also include the testimony of faith, prayer, charitable giving and making pilgrimage to Mecca.
During the month Muslims say “Ramadan Mubarak” which translates to “Happy Ramadan” or “Blessed Ramadan”.
In 2018, it is from Tuesday May 15 to Thursday June 14.
Why is Ramadan so important?
There are three main reason why it is considered important.
- The Quran was first revealed in this month of fasting
- The gates of Heaven are open
- The gates of Hell are closed
Why do people fast during Ramadan?
People fast as a way to spiritually surrender to a higher authority.
Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and engaging in sexual activity from dawn until sunset.
However, if you are suffering from an illness, travelling, pregnant, diabetic or menstruating you are exempt from fasting.
The month also involves the increased offering of prayers and the recitation of the Quran.
It is a way to challenge Muslims and test their patience and endurance to encourage spiritual wellbeing.
The end of the fasting month is celebrated with the Eid al-Fitr festival where family and close friends gather for breakfast.
When can people eat during Ramadan?
People can eat during the fasting month but only before dawn and after sunset.
The meal before dawn is called suhoor and the meal after sunset is called iftar.
They usually contain fruit, vegetables, halal meats, cheeses, bread and sweets that provide people with lots of energy.
The meals are served in the home or in community mosques.
Do people lose weight during the month?
Despite eating less often, people may actually gain weight during this month.
This is because the meals are larger and are eaten early in the morning or late at night.
Do the dates of Ramadan change every year?
Yes, the dates change every year due to Muslims following the lunar calendar that is based on the phases of the moon.
The lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the normal Gregorian calendar. This forces the lunar calendar to move backwards 11 days each year.
This means that Ramadan can fall in winter or in summer. In winter, it is easier to fast as the days are shorter whereas in summer it is much harder as the temperature hits high temperatures.