The Muslim holy manta of Ramadan started this year on Friday May 26th, and most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims will be observing.
What is Ramadan exactly?
Here are some basic answers to the most basic questions about Ramadan.
What is Ramadan actually about?
Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims. When the Ramadan starts, the gates of Heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. Muslims believe it was during this month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran, Islam’s sacred text. During the entire month of Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset. It is meant to be a time of spiritual discipline, of deep concentration of one’s relationship with God, extra prayer, increased charity and generosity, and intense study of the Quran. It is also a time of celebration and joy, to be spent with loved ones. At the end of Ramadan there is a big three day celebration called Eid al-If Fitr, or ‘The Festival of the Breaking of the Fast’.
How does fasting work?
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating any food, drinking of any liquids, smoking cigarettes, and engaging in any sexual activity, from dawn to sunset.
What is a typical day like during Ramadan?
During Ramadan, Muslims wake up well before dawn and eat the first meal of the day, which has to last until sunset. This means eating lots of high protein foods and drinking as much water as possible right up until dawn. Muslims are not supposed to avoid work or school or any other normal duties during the day just because they are fasting. Muslims go about their daily business, despite not being able to eat or drink anything the whole day. After evening prayer they break the days fast with a light meal called iftar. This is usually followed by a larger meal a bit later in the evening.
Do you lose weight during Ramadan?
Ramadan is actually notorious for often causing weight gain. That is because eating large meals super early in the morning and late at night with a long period of low activity bordering on lethargy in between can wreak havoc on your metabolism.
Why do the dates of Ramadan change every year?
For religious matters, Muslims follow a lunar calendar. The Islamic lunar calendar moves backward approximately 11 days each year in relation to the regular Gregorian calendar.
What can I do to be respectful of my Muslim friends during Ramadan?
There are things you can do and not do to make things a little easier for friends or colleagues who are fasting during Ramadan. Try not to eat in front of them and try to remember not to offer a bite or sip of what you’re eating. The standard Ramadan greetings are ‘Ramadan Kareem’ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak’. Even something as simple as learning one of these expressions and saying it with a smile to your Muslim friends, will go a long way towards making them feel comfortable and welcome.