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Learning more about the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan

Updated: Apr 8

✦While many of us will certainly be familiar with the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan and be aware of the fact that this entails a period of restraint, including abstaining from food and drink for a specified period of time, many people only know the very basics if they’re honest.


Considering it is a religious festival that impacts over 1.6 billion people worldwide each year, it’s safe to say it is a very big deal, so we thought we would take a deeper dive to uncover some of the historical and interesting facts surrounding the annual occasion.


Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.


Whereas the dates of the festival change every year due to the religion of Islam adhering to a calendar based on the cycles of the Moon, this year it will take place from March 10 until April 9. As the Muslim calendar year is shorter than the Gregorian version, Ramadan always begins 10–12 days earlier each year and always begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon.


Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community | Brilliant-Online
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community

Ramadan honours the month when the Muslim Holy Book of the Qur’ān was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God, who declared the Qur’ān as a means of guidance for the people. The night that the Holy Book was revealed is known as Lailut ul-Qadr (‘The Night of Power’).


Fasting, or swam as it is referred to in Arabic, is a critical component of Ramadan whereby practising Muslims will refrain from consuming both food and drink between dusk and dawn. There are exceptions, however, as pregnant women, elderly, sick and infirm people and children do not have to fast. Likewise anyone who is travelling at the time, although usually such people will make up the days missed in lieu, even if it is after the specified period of Ramadan itself.


Fasting is the personification of self-restraint to Muslims during the period of Ramadan although it is not only food and drink that are prohibited during daylight hours as any sexual activity and immoral behaviour, including impure or unkind thoughts, are also forbidden and are considered as damaging as not refraining from consuming food and drink.


Fasting, or swam as it is referred to in Arabic | Brilliant-Online
Fasting, or swam as it is referred to in Arabic

Typically during the Ramadan festival, practitioners will consume one meal immediately prior to sunrise and one after sunset, known as ‘suḥūr’ and ‘ifṭār’ respectively. The latter is usually a shared, communal experience with friends and family where often fruits such as apricots and dates are washed down with water or sweetened milk to start the meal.


Abiding by instruction from the Qur’ān itself, the period of being permitted to eat and drink is marked by when the “white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn.”




The conclusion of the month-long observance of Ramadan is embraced with a huge celebration known as ‘Eid ul-Fitr’, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, where Muslims not only welcome the end of their fasting but also pay thanks to Allah for providing them the strength and self-discipline that carried them through the previous month.


Friends, family and loved ones gather to celebrate by attending special, elaborate services conducted at Mosques, where the first daytime meal permitted in a month is enjoyed. It is also a period where charitable deeds are performed such as donating money, clothes and items to foundations and individuals less fortunate.


The conclusion of the month-long observance of Ramadan is embraced with a huge celebration known as ‘Eid ul-Fitr’ | Brilliant-Online
The conclusion of the month-long observance of Ramadan is embraced with a huge celebration known as ‘Eid ul-Fitr’

We spoke with Adan, our own superstar graphic designer at Brilliant-Online who, as a practising Muslim, is perfectly placed to offer a more intimate perspective into the Ramadan festival.


“I have mixed feelings towards Ramadan in many ways,” Adan says. “On one hand it is a time where we can devote more time to worship and to reflecting on what we have done and accomplished in the past year. But on the other hand, there may be people that we shared the experience with last year that are no longer with us, which leaves me reflecting on many things with more than a tinge of sadness.

“However, Ramadan also brings back many fond childhood and teenage memories of gathering at the mosque before tarawih prayers. It reminds me of playing with firecrackers and fireworks, being scolded by girls and waking everyone up in the village in the middle of the night by banging drums,” he adds.


“Now I have grown older and have a family of my own, there is something that distinctly touches me about the occasion when I reflect on it. I am reminded of my mother and all the good times we had when she was alive. I am reminded how, as a child, I often felt rituals like fasting were obstacles whereas now I understand their true worth. These are lessons I have learnt that I want to pass onto my own children.”

 

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