Chances are you would have heard the term ‘Ramadan’ said a few times here and there, which might lead you to ask what it actually is. If you are wondering then you’ve come to the right place as, throughout this article, we are going to talk in more detail about Ramadan, its history and how it is practised.
What is the Actual History of Ramadan?
The word Ramadan derives from the Arabic root R-M-D which means ‘scorching heat’, perhaps underlining the pre-Islamic name of a scorching hot summer month. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims the world over, as the month of fasting and as a way to grow their bond with Allah (God) by doing selfless good deeds for others and reciting the Quran. This is the month that the Qur’an (which is the Muslim holy book) was first revealed by the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the last Prophet and as such, in 610 A.D. was chosen as the final Messenger to spread the religion of Islam until his death in 632 AD. Fasting has been prescribed on Muslims in this month, and as an act of worship was prescribed on nations before.
There are a lot of decorations that get used during Ramadan as a means to celebrate the period and there will be lots used around Muslims homes. Some of the most popular decorations include colourful pieces and Fanoos (which are lanterns) that are used to illuminate buildings and really bring them to life.
When Does Ramadan Take Place?
Ramadan starts at a different point every year due to the fact that Muslims follow a lunar calendar that is usually 10 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. The Islamic calendar still consists of 12 months, however, the months are based on the cycles of the moon and can be 29 or 30 days. In 2022, Ramadan is going to take place between the months of April and May.
How Muslims Celebrate and Observe Ramadan
Throughout the history of Islam, one of the sole ways that Muslims show their devotion to Allah during the holy month is by fasting between the times of sunrise and sunset. Muslims will engage in prayer frequently, and use Ramadan as a period of reflection and to help their community.
A lot of Muslims will also use Ramadan to try and give up one of the poor habits they may have. This is because Ramadan is seen by many as a period of self-reflection as well as a period to show devotion to Allah. Families and communities also enjoy coming together during this period to spend time with their loved ones.
When individuals exercise self-discipline to continue fasting throughout the month of Ramadan, they are reminded of the suffering of those less fortunate. This is why so many people during this period try to give back to their community. One of the ways to do this is by donating money to charities (known as Sadaqah and Zakat). Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
What Are the Rules of Fasting throughout Ramadan?
Fasting (known as Sawm), which is also one of the five pillars of Islam, is one of the most important ways that people observe the month. Muslims have always been expected to abstain from food and drink during daylight hours for 29 to 30 days throughout the entire history of Islam. This means they are unable to have food, or any kind of drink (which includes water) and they can also not chew gum.
It is expected of everyone who observes and celebrates Ramadan to fast if they can, there are some exceptions that come about because of the potential physical dangers of these groups fasting for such an elongated period. These exceptions include:
- Any children who are 14 and under
- Pregnant women
- Menstruating women
- People that are suffering from any kind of mental or physical illness
- The elderly
Muslims will quite commonly have a meal before the sun comes up and then will also have a meal following sunset.
What Should You Say to Someone During Ramadan?
If you see a Muslim during Ramadan and you would like to wish them a happy Ramadan, then this is easy to do by simply saying “Ramadan Mubarak”. This is an Arabic translation and is the most common one that is used by Muslims.
Is There a Specific Location Where Ramadan is Celebrated?
There isn’t a set location for Ramadan as it is celebrated across the globe by Muslims from all over the world. You will usually find that depending on the country you’re in, there will be different cultural traditions. The common element throughout is that of fasting throughout the day, but because it is based on the lunar calendar, you will also find that different countries fast and eat at different times compared to the UK.
What Happens After Ramadan?
When Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims have Eid ul-Fitr. This is a celebration that is held and used as a means to mark the end of fasting as people everywhere are able to break their fast. During this celebration, there are a number of services held, all of which signify the end of fasting. Family and friends will usually come together and in turn share food, gifts and continue to give to charity.
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