A Closer Look at Ramadan

A Closer Look at Ramadan

This Thursday marks the beginning of Ramada on the Islamic Calendar. This calendar follows that lunar cycle that is different than the solar cycle. As such, the dates of Ramadan are not the same from year to year. Here’s a closer look at this Islamic observance:

• Ramadan is not so much a single holiday as it is a month. For Muslims, it is the ninth month on the calendar. Ramadan is an Arabic word that translated into English means “scorching.” Ramadan was set up as a month of Muslim holiness following the Quran revelation to the Prophet Muhammad over 1,400 years ago. The Quran commands that Ramadan be observed as a holy month. Observance begins after the sighting of the new moon. It is a time meant to praise Allah and thank Him for his guidance.

• Ramadan is a period of fasting. During the month, most observers of the Islamic faith do not eat or drink from sun up to sun down. So, before the sun rises their is a predawn meal called Suhur. Then, after the sun goes down, observers gather to break their fast with an evening meal. Tradition is to kick thing off by eating dates in honor of the Prophet, who used to do the same.

• The fasting ritual observed during Ramadan is among Islam’s five pillars. It is known as Sawm. It requires observers to not eat anything, not drink anything, not smoke, and not have sex.

• Ramadan is also marked by an observance of charity. During the fasting period—which is meant to demonstrate selflessness and an empathy toward those who hunger—observers in different communities will rally together and collect alms, feed the poor, donate food and other items like clothing.

• It is common for observers to read the Quran—sometimes the entire text—each day throughout the month.

• Those who are not of the Islamic faith may observe Ramadan. Non-Muslim friends are invited to participate in prayers and meals. If you know someone who is participating in Ramadan, it is a nice gesture to greet them in one of the following ways: “Ramadan Kareem” or “Ramadan Mubarak.”