More than one-fifth of the world’s population are Muslim, and this is the most important month in the Islamic calendar so here is what you need to know:

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan takes place during the ninth month of Islam’s lunar calendar. The month is said to be when the Qur’an was first revealed, making it the most sacred month for Muslims. During this month Muslims fast every day from sunrise to sunset; abstaining from food and drink. It is also a time of deep reflection and prayer to Allah, and for generosity.

All Muslims of able body and mind take part. Young Muslims begin to fast around the age of ten or 11.

When does Ramadan begin?

If you are a Muslim and you are asking this question you might be alarmed to learn that Ramadan started on the 7th of June, around the time the new moon came into view. The Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia decides when the new moon has arrived. The month moves back by about ten days every year due to the fact that lunar months are shorter than solar months.

What is an average day like

You wake up before sunrise at 4 am. At this time you grab food and drink, enough to last the day. Once the sun is up, fasting begins, no drinking, smoking or any sexual activity until sundown: iftar.

Iftar begins by eating dates and sweets, milky drinks—needed for an energy boost—then it is prayer time. Dinner begins after these prayers around 9pm before fasting begins again for the next day.

In total, Muslims will fast for around 17 hours per day this year or 530 hours throughout the month. Muslim businesses will close during the day to allow for prayer and readings of the Qur’an.

Why are they doing this?

Islam is a very charitable religion, where its followers will help the poor and less fortunate over the course of their lifetimes, with extra emphasis during the holy month. While fasting, Muslims are reminded of the suffering and plight of those who have nothing.

It is also seen as an opportunity to exercise discipline and self-control; and to cleanse the mind, body and spirit, for a greater connection to Allah.

When does it end and how is it celebrated?

Ramadan 2016 will close around the 7th of July and the 10th month Shawwal will begin. This again will be confirmed by Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court. Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations then take place and can continue for three days. Muslims come together with family and friends to eat great feasts and exchange gifts, more charity is given and bad blood is forgotten.

Above all, they give thanks to Allah for the strength he bestowed on them to last it through the challenges of the holy month.

Ramadan Mubarak!


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