Author: Cristina Cristea
Date of publication: 22/04/2022
The holy Muslim month of Ramadan in 2022 began at sunset, on April 1 and will last until May 1. For Muslims, this is a time of soul and body purification. Ramadan is also known as a month of fasting, praying and reflection.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, is celebrated as the month in which Allah revealed to the Prophet Muhammed the first verses of the Quran in 610 CE. Specifically, Laylat al-Dadr, or the Night of Power, is considered to be the actual date on which the Quran was given to the prophet.
Moreover, Ramadan is inextricably linked with the lunar Muslim calendar. So each year the fast has a different start and end date. Also, Ramadan is the month of obligatory Muslim fasting. Therefore, it is one of the five pillars of Islam, sacred to every believer.
What is the purpose of Ramadan?
During Ramadan, believers should refrain from eating, drinking, and other pleasures from dawn to dusk. The elimination of daily comfort aims to increase the mind's focus on prayer, spirituality, acts of charity and also aims at purifying the body and mind. Muslims should refrain from unclean acts such as gossip or licentious language.
As a result, Ramadan becomes a period when Muslims focus on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their daily lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation. Fasting is an act of worship that allows Muslims to feel closer to God and to strengthen their spiritual health and self-discipline.
During the fast of Ramadan, strict restrictions are imposed on the daily life of Muslims. They must not eat or drink from sunrise till sunset. Smoking and sexual intercourse are also prohibited during it.
Several groups can be exempted from fasting during Ramadan: pregnant women, people who are mentally or physically ill, and sometimes breastfeeding women. Children shouldn’t fast until they reach puberty, although many choose to observe at least part of the fast as a child in order to get used to it.
Generosity is an important part of Ramadan
While most non-Muslims associate Ramadan exclusively with fasting, this holiday also integrates generosity.
As a result, muslims commit regular almsgiving in the form of Zakat (one of the five pillars of Islam) or Sadaqa (voluntary donation). During Ramadan, the divine reward is greater for those who perform acts of charity. As a result, many Muslims offer more during this month.
What are Suhur and Iftar?
Suhur is the name of the meal Muslims eat before sunrise, which is rich in fat and proteins. Once fasting begins, even taking a sip of water means an interruption of fasting.
Each Ramadan day ends with a prayer and a meal called Iftar. In the evening after Iftar, it is a tradition for Muslims to visit family and friends. Fasting resumes the next morning.
Iftar traditions are celebrated all over the world, where people live together. Usually, break their fast with dates, water, followed by a light meal. However, there is a wide range of meals cooked especially for Ramadan and are popular all over the world.
The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr, a significant festival that ends the fast. The feast begins as soon as the New Moon can be seen in the sky. On Eid, Muslims celebrate by dressing in the best clothes, giving gifts, spending time with family, and having a large meal during the day. Muslims must also contribute with a certain amount of donations to charity so that the poor could also celebrate the end of fast.
What you shouldn't say to Muslims during Ramadan
Some non-Muslims do not know what is the appropriate way of interacting with muslims during Ramadan. Although they may be aware of what's going on, they're confused and always ask the same questions.
Don’t ask muslims who are not fasting why they are not doing it
There are many reasons why some Muslims cannot fast. Illness, pregnancy, age, menstruation - these are all personal things that not everyone wants to talk about. But most importantly, it's not up to you whether or not someone is fasting. One of the most beautiful things about fasting is that no one has to prove it, which makes it a very personal experience. In addition, if you ask someone why they are not fasting, consider other important aspects of Ramadan, such as self-reflection and prayer. Just because someone isn't fasting doesn't mean they don't take part in Ramadan.
Be cautious and careful with your food around muslims
Don’t wave your food around the nose of a muslim friend who probably won't eat for 15 hours. Muslims know exactly what they are up to when they start fasting. They are aware that this is a difficult time. That's why most of them wake up before sunrise to eat as much as they can for the rest of the day. When you fast, you know that the world does not revolve around you - no one expects special treatment. Ramadan is not an easy time. If you are not sure how to receive a Muslim guest in the house during the fast, do not forget that there are many ways in which you can make someone feel welcome without giving them food.
Ask respectful questions
“How? Not even water?” Probably this is the most common question muslims hear during Ramadan from non-muslims. The question is so common that Muslims have made a lot of jokes about it. Don't do this thing. It's discouraging. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask questions during Ramadan, just don't ask stupid questions. Just give it a try and imagine that you're only surrounded by people who don't fast and hear the same question dozens of times.