As the world works to create inclusive societies, it is important that all people understand those who may be different than them. One easy way to do that is to learn more about religions and what they consider sacred. For Muslims, Ramadan is a month of worship and is often misunderstood by those who are not followers of Islam. To better understand the religion and any Muslim neighbors or friends you may have, here are a few basic facts to know about the holy month.
When Does Ramadan Start and End?
On the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is the ninth month. This calendar is behind the solar calendar by 11 days and is centered around the phases of the moon. This means that Ramadan starts on a different day each year and may even move through different seasons. For example, in 2017, Ramadan began on May 26, and in 2018, it begins on May 15. Followers of Islam believe that Muhammad received the revelations of the beginning of what would later be known as the Quran during the month of Ramadan.
Muslims Fast From Sunrise to Sunset
During Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from dawn to dusk. Along with refraining from eating, they also stay away from drinking, smoking and engaging in sexual activity. Ultimately, they want to avoid any type of immoral behavior and impure or unkind words and thoughts.
Once Muslims reach puberty, they are required to fast if they are healthy. Pregnant or nursing women and the sick and elderly are exempt but often make up the difference in the future when they can by serving the poor.
Empathy, Self-Restraint and Self-Reflection
Ramadan is focused on self-reflection and self-restraint. While followers continue to go to school and work and complete their usual activities, many use this month as a time to frequently attend mosques, say special prayers and read the Quran.
Muslims go without food during the days of Ramadan not only to clean the soul, but also to create empathy for those throughout the world who are consistently hungry and suffering. Around the globe, Muslims and other religions must come together to feed those in countries plagued by famine, natural disasters and war. One easy way to feed the poor in distant places is with a Ria Money Transfer to any of the 146 territories and countries on the list.
Five Pillars of Islam
Fasting is just one of the five pillars of Islam. Also included are daily prayer, a declaration of faith, charity and participation in the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. During Ramadan, Muslims often look for ways to help those who are less fortunate and to build bridges between themselves and non-Muslims. As Muslims remove worldly pleasures from their lives for a month, they are better able to focus on the needs of others, grow closer to God and focus on their inner selves.
Breaking the Fast
Fourteen hundred years ago, the Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with some dates and a sip of water at sunset, and that tradition carries on with today’s Muslims. Throughout the day, that sip of water is highly anticipated and is followed by sunset prayers.
After prayers, Muslims host a large feast with family and friends, also known as “iftar.” Yogurt-based drinks, apricot juices, fish stew, harira, Berber bread, saleeg, lamb, duck and chicken are all familiar staples in Muslim countries in different parts of the world. Iftars are often social gatherings as much as they are meals, and family and friends come together to enjoy traditional Muslim meals.
Celebrating Muslims in America
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims have a large celebration called Eid al-Fitr. The celebration lasts for three days and begins the day after the end of Ramadan. This is a time for meals, special prayers and gift exchanges with family and friends.
Since 1996, three U.S. presidents have hosted Eid al-Fitr celebrations or iftar dinners at the White House. Despite the differences in religion, all can find a way to learn more about and celebrate the traditions of their neighbors. In honor of the holiday, you can send money through Ria Money Transfer.