When Is Ramadan? 5 Things To Know About The Islam Holy Month

ACROSS AMERICA — Important holidays for three of the world’s major religions intersect in April, starting Saturday with the monthlong celebration of Ramadan, a time of fasting, introspection and prayer observed by many of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims, 7 million of whom live in the United States.

Also this month, Christians observe Holy Week leading up to Easter on April 17, and Jews observe Passover from April 15-23.

Here are five things to know about Ramadan, observed April 2-May 1 this year:

1. Ramadan Is Islam’s Most Sacred Month

Ramadan celebrates the month in AD 610 when it is believed the initial chapters of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, were revealed to Prophet Mohammad by Allah, or God, according to The Times of India. “When the month of Ramadan starts, “Prophet Mohammad said,” the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained. “

2. Ramadan Can Occur In Any Month

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on lunar cycles, so the exact dates change every year and do not follow the Gregorian calendar used in the West. The date moves backward on the calendar 11 days every year, which means that a person who is 33 years old would have fasted for Ramadan in every season, Patch previously reported.

3. Fasting Is One Of Five Pillars Of Islam

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset every day. Only people who are healthy are expected to fast; and pregnant women, people with health concerns or illnesses, the elderly and prepubescent children are not obligated to fast.

The first meal, called Suhoor, is served before dawn, is hearty enough to fuel the energy needed to get through the day, and ends at sunrise, when Fajr, or morning prayers, begin.

Fasting (sawm in Arabic) isn’t limited to food and drink. Muslims also abstain from materialistic pleasures, sexual intimacy, smoking and behaviors such as gossiping, lying and fighting from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. This is done to purify the soul and strengthen one’s relationship with Allah.

At sunset, families come together for a second meal, called Iftar.

4. Charitable Giving Is Stressed During Ramadan

Another of the pillars of Islam stressed during Ramadan is a form of charitable giving known as Zakat. Muslims are reminded of the importance of generosity and encouraged to increase their charitable giving during Ramadan.

Zakat is obligatory for those who are financially able, and there are two types: Zakat al-Mal, which requires Muslims to give 2.5 percent of their assets to the poor and hungry, and Zakat al-Fitr, a charitable donation to be made at the end of Ramadan.

5. Ramadan Ends With A Joyous Festival

Although Ramadan is a time for an introspective and often somber reflection on one’s relationship with God, Ramadan is also a joyous time to be spent with family. It ends with Eid al-Fitr, or Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, which begins on The first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. This year, that’s May 2 on the Gregorian calendar.

During this time, Muslims take part in special prayers, greet one another with formal embraces and greetings such as “Eid Mubarak,” or “have a blessed Eid,” according to History.com.

Eid is like Christianity’s Christmas in some respects. It is celebrated by exchanging gifts with family and friends over special meals featuring traditional sweet dishes, including baklava, date-filled pastries and bint al sahn, or honey cake, depending on the region of the world ..

Leave a Comment