Ramadan holds religious significance to Muslims and allows for a key period of reflection throughout the holy month. Characterized by the fast, it teaches selflessness and generosity, while providing an opportunity to abstain from all kinds of bad habits. Express.co.uk spoke with a representative from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to understand what Ramadan involves.
Ramadan 2022 key dates
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the exact dates for it change every year.
As it’s based on the lunar calendar, like other Muslim festivals, its position in the Gregorian calendar moves slightly with each passing.
For 2022, Ramadan is expected to begin on the evening of Saturday, April 2 and will end on Sunday, May 1.
Ramadan lasts between 29 and 30 days until the sighting of the next crescent moon signals its conclusion and the arrival of Shawwal –the tenth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar.
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What is Ramadan?
Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter, the Assistant Secretary General of the MCB, outlined to Express.co.uk that Ramadan is the month that the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad by God.
He said: “For Muslims, who believe that the Quran contains the final testament of God to mankind, it is an anniversary that we mark not by celebration but by reflection on the messages within it.
“This reflection takes place throughout the month, which acts as an annual spiritual holiday away from focusing on this life to thinking more about our after-life.
“It is as important for us to recharge our spiritual batteries as a holiday is to recharge our physical and mental batteries after a long year of working.”
However, as Dr Akhter explains Ramadan is much greater than just fasting alone.
He added: “Muslims are asked to commit to avoiding all sorts of vices and pleasures during the same time.
“No smoking, no swearing, no fighting, no gossiping and so on. The real commitment is to use our faith for self-improvement.”
Dr Akhter said that although Ramadan may sound difficult to “those who have never experienced it” most Muslims view it as “a time for spiritual growth and a community activity that they undertake along with hundreds of millions of others across the world”.
What does Ramadan teach Muslims?
One of the key lessons Ramadan allows Muslims to develop is “a level of empathy” with people who are suffering in the world
Selflessness, generosity and self-control are examples of other values the holy month instils into people.
Muslims are also presented with an opportunity to reflect on their life to this point and what their purpose going forward will be.
How can non-Muslims help to respect Ramadan?
Dr Akhter said that simply just acknowledging “your Muslim neighbours and colleagues are undertaking Ramadan is nice”.
He added that everyone is welcome to celebrate the end of Ramadan, which is called Eid Al-Fitr.
Eid Al-Fitr’s name derives from an Arabic term which translates as the “feast of breaking the fast”.
Celebrations for it traditionally take the form of large gatherings with food, prayer and stalls all present.
Anyone who wants to find out more about Ramadan can do so by clicking on this link