Celebrating Ramadan is a blessed celebration in the life of followers of Islam. While it is a time of spiritual focus, it is in fact a celebration shared with family and friends. It is a time that very much brings Muslims closer together as a community.
Ramadan is observed from 23rd April to 24th of May 2020
(By the Saudi Arabian Calendar – Dates may vary depending upon region).
Ramadan is an extremely important holy month for people of the Islamic faith.
According to Islam, the angel Gabriel gave the prophet Muhammed the Qurʾān, which is the Muslim holy book, on the 27th day of Ramadan. Muslims celebrate the holiday through day time fasting, praying, and doing good acts, especially volunteer work and giving to charity. Ramadan is a happy month for Muslims, a time to celebrate with family and with other worshipers. It gives Muslims a time to reconnect with both their faith and their community.
Ramadan is a time for Muslims to focus on their religion and on doing good. While many of the common practices for Muslims during Ramadan are ones they perform year round, like praying and donating to charity, there is a special focus on them during Ramadan.
Muhammed said that “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.”
This means that it should be easier for a Muslim to be good during this month. With Satan locked away, he cannot lead humans astray.
The 27th Day of Ramadan is particularly holy, as that is the day Muhammad was given the Qurʾān. Called Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power), this day is holiest day of the Islamic calendar. On this day, every act of faith, such as prayer or donating to a charity, is a thousand times more powerful than on any other day of the year.
After Ramadan ends, Muslims have a big celebration called Eid al-Fitr, which means “Feast of Fast-Breaking.” It lasts for three days and in addition to feasting, celebrants often exchange gifts.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar.
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar–that is, based on the cycles of the move rather that the orbit around the sun. It has 12 lunar months and is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar, so the date of Ramadan shifts every year.
Ramadan begins on the night of the new moon. Since the new moon by definition isn’t visible, tradition has it starting on the first night the crescent is visible after the New Moon. In the past, Muslims determined this by watching the night’s sky for the first sign of the moon. As weather and other factors can affect the relative visibility of that first crescent, communities often argued about whether or not the crescent moon had been spotted.
Today, astronomers are able to accurately determine the night of the new moon. Because tradition dictates that the fast starts on the night of the first visible crescent, Muslims determine the beginning of Ramadan by a combination of scientific calculations and when the crescent is considered visible to the naked eye. Some Muslims base the start of Ramadan based on the timing of the new moon in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, while others base it on the local lunar calendar. They also differ on when after the new moon the crescent is deemed visible. This results in disagreements in the Islamic community over when exactly Ramadan starts. We chose the date used by the Saudi Arabia Calendar, but depending on where you live, your dates may vary.
Ramadan is celebrated through intentional acts of fasting, or sawn.
It is one of the five Pillars of Islam, the five key acts of faith required of all Muslims. From sunrise to sunset, Muslims neither eat nor drink anything. According to Islam, this fasting is to be specifically for the purpose of reconnecting with God; fasting for political reasons, for example, do not count. The fasting helps Muslims to focus on prayer and contemplation of the Islamic faith. The fasting also raises awareness and compassion for the poor and the hungry.
Depending on when in the year Ramadan falls, fasting can be harder some years than others. During the summer, soaring temperatures make it much more difficult to abstain from water than it is during the cooler winter months. Summer days are also significantly longer than winter ones. For Muslims living in the northern latitudes, such as in Scandinavia, summer daylight hours can last 20 hours a day! In fact, for Muslims living in the arctic circle, if Ramadan falls near the solstice the sun may never rise at all, or never set. If that is the case, Muslims can choose to set their fasting schedule either by the sunrise and sunset in Mecca or in the closest Muslim country.
While Ramadan fasting is a requirement of Islam, there are exceptions. Young children and the elderly are not required to fast. Women who are pregnant, menstruating, or nursing are also exempt. People with chronic illnesses, like diabetes, where fasting could harm the ill person, are exluded. People who are traveling long distances are excused from fasting as well.
While fasting, Muslims continue with their normal work during the month of Ramadan. In predominantly Muslim countries, work hours may be adjusted to accommodate the fasting. In general, however, Muslims expect to continue working as normal while fasting.
Muslims also focus on prayer, another Pillar of Islam, during Ramadan.
Islam expects Muslims to pray multiple times every day, but these prayers are particularly meaningful during Ramadan. Muslims often go to their mosques every evening for the evening prayer. Many Mosques include a recitation of the tarawih. The tarawih is the Qurʾān broken into sections. Each night a different section of the Qurʾān is recited, and Muslims can hear the whole Qurʾān over the month.
Charity, or zakat, is another Pillar of Islam that is important during Ramadan.
During Ramadan, Muslims seek to avoid negative emotions and actions and to do good deeds. Many will volunteer their time during Ramadan to charitable organizations, and donate their money to good causes. Charities that provide food for the poor are particularly popular during this month.
Islam is the secondest largest religion in the world, and Ramadan is a key component of practicing Islam.
Islam today has more than 1 billion followers around the world who are celebrating Ramadan this spring. Ramadan brings friends and family in the community together through fasting, charity, and prayer during the month. At the end of the month, Muslims end the fasting with the three day feast and celebration Eid al-Fitr. Eid is celebrated with special prayers, sharing special meals with friends and family, and often by exchanging gifts.
For those who are celebrating, we wish you Ramadan Mubarak (Have a blessed Ramadan).
RoseAnna & Galen
and The Researcher’s Gateway team!
Learn about more Holidays by checking out our Holiday’s Around the World.