Ramadan: what it is and why Muslims must observe it

362503407what-is-ramadan-and-why-muslims-celebrate-it.jpg

By:

Last Update: 2021-04-14 23:43:09 IST

  • Follow Us

It is the holy month of fasting, dedicated to prayer , meditation and self-discipline. Fasting is an obligation for all healthy adult practicing Muslims who, from the first light of dawn until sunset, cannot eat, drink, smoke and have sex.

Ramadan is the name of the ninth month of the year in the Muslim lunar calendar , in which, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad received the revelation of the Koran "as a guide for men of right direction and salvation" (Sura II, v. 185).

It is the holy month of fasting, dedicated to prayer , meditation and self-discipline. Fasting is an obligation for all healthy adult practicing Muslims who, from the first light of dawn until sunset, cannot eat, drink, smoke and have sex.

Minors, the elderly, the sick, breastfeeding or pregnant women are exempt from fasting. Women during their menstrual cycle and those who are traveling are only temporarily exempted.

At sunset, the fast is broken with a date or a glass of water. Then follows the evening meal (iftar).

Fasting ( sawn ) is one of the five duties of the Islamic faith. The others are the profession of faith ( kalima ), the daily recitation of the five prayers ( salat ), the giving of alms ( zakat ) and the fulfillment, at least once in a lifetime, of the pilgrimage ( hagg ) to Mecca (Saudi Arabia ).

Failure to observe these precepts, in some of the more observant communities, can lead to the charge of apostasy .

Ramadan is the holiest month of Muslims - about 1.6 billion worldwide - and the time of year in which it is celebrated is the same in all Islamic countries.

The month of Ramadan does not always fall in the same period of the Gregorian calendar, because that of the Muslims is a lunar calendar (the lunar year lasts about 11 days less than the solar one), and the numbering of the year does not coincide because Muslims begin to count from our 622 d. C., when Mohammed left Mecca to go to Medina: therefore May 23, 2020, the end date of Ramadan, for Muslims is " 30 Ramadan 1441 " (see the date converter by Arab.it ).

Some differences in tradition are found in the foods that can be eaten when the sun goes down. Each country has its own peculiarities: for example, in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco a couscous is prepared only with lamb (not chicken or mutton) enriched with raisins; in Syria and Jordan, on the other hand, they eat "katai", sweets filled with coconut, chopped hazelnuts and sugar. During Ramadan they drink fruit juices, and in the Maghreb countries that of licorice, which raises blood pressure, because those who fast have it lower than usual.

However, Ramadan is everywhere a moment of sharing and union. It is customary to invite your neighbors and friends to share the evening meal together - called iftar - and to recite particular prayers called Tarawih.

Ramadan therefore depends on the phases of the moon or - more precisely - on the visual observation of the crescent moon ( hilal ). This fact has two consequences. The first is that Ramadan can begin (and end) on different dates from country to country. In Italy in 2021, for example, it started on April 13 and should end on May 12. The second is that every year Ramadan begins before the previous year, and there are years in which it is celebrated in winter, when the days are shorter (and therefore fasting too).

In this historical period, in our hemisphere, Ramadan falls instead in spring / summer and here some problems can arise.

For example, in Reykjavik, Iceland, fasting lasts just under 22 hours, which is regularly from sunrise (around 2 am) to sunset (around midnight). In Sydney (Australia) it is winter and fasting lasts just over 11 hours, while in Alaska at the same time the sun never sets ... In this case, the question of fasting obviously arose, resolved by some wise men with the instruction to the Islamic inhabitants of Juneau (Alaska) to follow the calendar of another country.

Most Popular News

Top 10 News

The Indian Voice

It's your choice

When we make the Indian Voice available to you online, we use cookies and similar technologies to help us to do this. Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional but support the Indian Voice and your experience in other ways.

When we make the Indian Voice available to you online, we use cookies and similar technologies to help us to do this. Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional but support the Indian Voice and your experience in other ways.

When we make the Indian Voice available to you online, we use cookies and similar technologies to help us to do this. Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional but support the Indian Voice and your experience in other ways.

Yes, I’m happy Manage my cookies