Ramadan is practiced by Moslems in remembrance of the time their prophet, Muhammad, received Qur’an or holy book from an angel. From dusk to dawn, they fast which is one of the five pillars of their belief. The four others are namely praying five times a day, visiting Mecca at least once in their life, giving alms, and declaring that Allah is the only God.
Ramadan is observed on the 9th month of the lunar calendar which begins from the sighting of the crescent moon and ends with the new moon. It lasts for 29 to 30 days, typically starts 11 days earlier than the past year, and can fall on a summer or winter. The holiest month is observed by 1.8 billion Moslems all over the world to find or renew peace, generosity, purification, and Allah in their hearts. Ramadan schedules differ in many parts of Earth because of the various times people can see the crescent moon in their respective areas and can be affected by weather conditions among other things, but nowadays, because of the astronomers’ predictions, the date gap among countries practicing Islam has narrowed. Did you know that Ramadan involves:
Fasting – Many images come to mind when you hear the word, but for Moslems, this means refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, talking behind other people’s backs, cursing, and seeking pleasures. This can be particularly daunting especially when the surrounding is so hot you can see mirages nearby. But the point of abstaining is to exercise self-control and patience. They turn to their Qu’ran for strength and wisdom. This period doesn’t last the whole day and can be long or short depending on the daylight from where a Moslem is.
Every healthy Moslem is called to fast but not those who are physically and mentally ill, menstruating, pregnant, and breastfeeding, traveling or sick, and children who haven’t reached puberty yet (12 years old for girls and 15 for boys). For those who cannot really abstain from eating and drinking, they can feed one poor person in a day instead. Those who are prevented by their circumstances can make up for it at a later time.
Also, people who fast do not avoid their daily tasks. They just continue to labor and go about their day sans nourishment, and if you think, it can be dangerous to your health, it may be not. Aisha Gani, a Moslem contributor to The Guardian, remarked that it can be healthy based on scientific studies. That is because, when the body uses up sugar, it turns to fat for energy thereby making one lose weight. It can also spike endorphins or mood hormones which make people mentally alert and lead to detoxification where the toxins from the body are removed.
Iftar – This is the sunset meal which can be composed of five dates, salad, lentil soup, and sips of water similar to Muhammad’s. It is a time when families and relatives come together to enjoy small to grand dinners. Another set of meal is to be had before sunset and like iftar, it is shared by the community.
Eid al-Fitr – After the month-long period of Ramadan, people do not fast for three days and celebrate. They thank Allah for giving them the strength and willpower during the difficult time. They wear their best clothes, enjoy sweets, spend time with relatives, exchange gifts, are generous with those who are needy, and forgive people for their trespasses. You can imagine someone who has a renewed feeling of oneself and sense of wonderment.
Understanding how important this month is for Moslems make people respect them more for their traditions and convictions. They empathize with the poor, long for a higher guidance, require excellence in their character by passing tests of self-control, and delight in the warmth of affection from friends, families, and communities. Ramadan Kareem!