Lantern with dusk sky and city bokeh light background for the Muslim feast of the holy month of Ramadan
Ramadan is one of the months of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar follows lunar months as opposed to solar months. That is why Ramadan falls on a different Gregorian date and even different seasons as the years pass by. It is a time for fasting, reflection, and celebration for Muslims all around the world.
Let’s start with the basics. Fasting is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from physical needs (food, water, and intercourse) from sunrise to sunset. Many will stay up throughout the night praying and meditating. Many will wake up way before sunrise to have an early breakfast, “suhoor”, to keep them going throughout the day.
Ramadan is a time to give up on physical needs and focus on spiritual needs. Being able to abstain from physical needs strengthens our ability to control our needs as opposed to the needs controlling us. Fasting has been shown to have physical health benefits as well1. If possible, Muslims increase their charitable giving during this month as well, as a sign of solidarity with those in need. It is a time for activism, being actively involved in elevating oneself and elevating others.
It is a time to celebrate when family and friends gather together to break their fast. Homes and streets are decorated with colorful decorations and lights while people from all walks of life pray in congregation during the evening. Weather permitting, these prayers are performed outdoors to accommodate everyone.
Not all Muslims are required to fast, only adults who are healthy enough to do so. Kids, those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, menstruating, traveling or sick, all get a pass on fasting. That does not mean they cannot celebrate Ramadan though. They still have the chance to participate in all other activities like charitable giving and meditation. Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan with a 3-day celebration or “Eid El-Udha”.
So, the next time you encounter a Muslim, wish them a Ramadan Mubarak and then Eid Mubarak!
- Angeliki Persynaki, Spyridon Karras, Claude Pichard, Unraveling the metabolic health benefits of fasting related to religious beliefs: A narrative review, Nutrition, Volume 35, 2017, Pages 14-20, ISSN 0899-9007, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2016.10.005. Last accessed April 7th 2022.