What is Ramadan? Five pillars, iftar, fasting, tarawih facts

Ramadan Mubarak! In Arabic, this means “Blessed Ramadan,” and the greeting is used during Ramadan to send well wishes to Muslims observing the month and its traditions.

For Muslims, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year. Many celebrate by gathering regularly in the evenings, trying to read the whole Qur’an during the month and fasting from sunrise to sunset.

A common observance is to avoid eating and drinking, including water, while the sun is up.

When is Ramadan? As Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, its start and end dates differ each year. In 2022, Ramadan (pronounced “ROM-uh-don”) begins in the evening of Friday, April 1 and ends in the evening on Sunday, May 1.

Some Muslims differ on the start and end date, but in the Triangle, mosques and Muslim leaders are sticking to this schedule, said Huzyfa Fazili, the publicity chair of Duke University’s Muslim Student Association.

“Ramadan is a high time for us Muslims. We are at our zenith,” Imam Abdul Hafeez Waheed told The News & Observer. Waheed has served as a Muslim leader at Duke for over 30 years.

“Muslims really look forward to the month of Ramadan,” he said. “This is my 44th fast, and I have never heard a Muslim say’I dread Ramadan.’ There’s always this great anticipation. It means so much spiritually and in so many other ways for our community. ”

Here’s what to know about the month, its traditions and celebrations:

Why is Ramadan celebrated?

Ramadan is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar. It was the month when key parts of the Qur’an – Islam’s holy book – were first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad..

“Ramadan is a month of intense spiritual rejuvenation with a heightened focus on devotion, during which Muslims spend extra time reading the Qur’an and performing special prayers,” according to Islamic Networks Group.

Here’s what the Qur’an says, according to Harvard University’s Pluralism Project:

“It was in the month of Ramadan that the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for humanity, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong. So any one of you who is present that month should fast, and anyone who is ill or He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful. ”(Qur’an 2:185)

The “Night of Power” (Laylat al-Qadr), which is commemorated on one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan, was when it is believed God revealed the first verses of Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad.

“The practice of fasting serves several spiritual and social purposes,” wrote Jennifer Williams for Vox. “To remind you of your human frailty and your dependence on God for sustenance, to show you what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty so you feel. compassion for (and a duty to help) the poor and needy, and to reduce the distractions in life so you can more clearly focus on your relationship with God. ”

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During Ramadan, many Muslims will read the Qur’an in full, either on their own or with other members of their community. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Fasting during Ramadan

Fasting is a core component of Ramadan. In fact, this is one of the five pillars of Islam. (More on that later.)

Fasting does not look identical for every person, as some observers cannot avoid food and drink for that long — Such as pregnant people, children, seniors and people who are sick.

But people observing Ramadan refrain from more than just food and drink from sunrise to sundown. Sexual activity and behaviors that are deemed immoral, like unkind speech and impure thoughts (such as jealousy and anger), are also avoided.

“Fasting is not just of the stomach, but also of the tongue, mind, and heart, as the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said,’Fasting is a screen; so when one is fasting, let them abstain from foul talk and from behaving impudently, ”the Pluralism Project says.

Muslims eat before the sun rises and after the sun sets. The meal before dawn is known as suhurand the meal after dusk is called iftar(Note: Spellings can differ between Muslim communities.)

Dates are common foods to eat during iftar, as they were a popular choice by the Prophet Muhammad.

All Muslims who have reached puberty are asked to fast, while older children (beginning around seven years of age, ING said) may participate in limited or symbolic fasting.

“The ultimate goal of fasting is gaining greater God-consciousness, known in Arabic as taqwa, signifying a state of constant awareness of God. From this awareness a person should gain discipline, self-restraint and a greater incentive to do good and avoid wrong , ”ING says.“ In commemoration of the revelation of Muslim’s holy book, the Qur’an, Muslims attempt to read the entire book during Ramadan.

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Muslims in the Triangle will celebrate Ramadan from April 1 to May 1 this year. Bryan Cereijo bcereijo@newsobserver.com

What’s Eid al-Fitr?

Eid al-Fitr is the Festival of Breaking the Fast.

“Children traditionally receive new clothes, money or gifts from parents, relatives and friends. A special prayer and sermon are held the morning of Eid day, followed by a community celebration usually in a park or large hall,” ING said.

“Food, games and presents for children are important parts of the festivities, as friends and family spend the day socializing, eating and reuniting with old acquaintances.

Some Muslims make Eid al-Fitr a day for acts of charity, ending the holy month in service to their communities, per the Pluralism Project.

What are the five pillars of Islam?

Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are the core beliefs and practices of the faith.

Here are the five, according to the North Carolina Consortium for Middle East Studies:

  • Profession of Faith (Shahada): “Professing that Allah is the true God and Muhammad is his messenger.”
  • Prayer (Salat): “Praying five times a day in the direction of Mecca.”
  • Alms (Zakah): “Paying a tax or giving a certain amount of money to charity.”
  • Fasting (Sawm): “Fasting from the sunup to sundown during the holy month of Ramadan.”
  • Pilgrimage (Hajj): “Going on a spiritual journey (pilgrimage) to Mecca.”

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Prayer, or salat, is a key component of Ramadan. During the month of Ramadan, many Muslims pray six times each day. Bryan Cereijo bcereijo@newsobserver.com

Ramadan prayer schedule

Usually, Muslims observe five prayers a day.

This is what that schedule looks like:

  • Fajr: Sunrise prayer.
  • Zuhr: Noon prayer.
  • Asr: Afternoon prayer.
  • Maghrib: Sunset prayer.
  • Isha: Night prayer.

During the month of Ramadan, many Muslims also observe Tarawih prayers (also spelled Taraweeh, which means “rest and relaxation” in Arabic). This prayer follows iftar.

Ramadan events in Raleigh, Durham, Cary NC area

We’ve compiled a list of Ramadan events taking place in and around the Triangle. If you see something we missed that you think we should include, let us know by emailing ask@newsobserver.com.

Important: Please check the websites for each event or venue prior to heading out to verify hours of operation (which can change) and to learn more about rain dates and COVID safety guidelines.

The Light House Project, an organization providing a safe, empowering space for Muslim youth located in Cary, has upcoming events for Ramadan:

  • Convert-Oriented Iftar: “An iftaar designed for converts, open to all. Join us in breaking fast and creating bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood during the holy month of Ramadan! Isha and Taraweeh prayers will be offered at the LHP,” the website says. Registration required. Info: Tuesday, April 5 at 7 pm 1127 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary. Projectlight.house/upcoming-events-2.
  • Intercollegiate MSA Iftar: With guest speaker Mohsen Zakaib. Info: Friday, April 8 at 7 pm 1127 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary. Projectlight.house/upcoming-events-2.
  • Suhoor: “Join us for suhoor! Biscuits and coffee will be available for purchase at the Light House parking lot. Fajr prayer will be offered in congregation. Registration is highly encouraged so we are able to serve everyone,” the website says. Info: Saturday, April 16 from 2 to 4 am 1127 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary. Projectlight.house/upcoming-events-2.

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Kimberly Cataudella (she / her) is a service journalism reporter for The News & Observer.

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