Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and is believed to be the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. It is one of the holiest celebrations in Islam, honored with worship, prayer, and fasting. This year, Ramadan will start at sundown on Friday, the 20th of July and will continue for 30 days until Saturday, the 18th of August.
Fasting, called Sawmn, during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month is spent by fasting during the daylight hours between dawn and sunset, and then breaking the fast with a ritualistic meal called Iftar. Children remain exempt from fasting during Ramadan until they reach pre-adolescence, but do enjoy partaking in reflection, worship, and celebrations, which are also important parts of Ramadan.
Families begin their Iftar meals by eating sweet dates and honeyed pastries before reciting the Maghrib prayer, afterwards they eat and fellowship with other families and friends. While fasting may sound miserable to some of us, Muslims have a very positive outlook with gratitude for their blessings in life as they reflect on those who may not have the things they do.
This month is a time of renewal, self-reflection, and devotion to God. Muslims use this time to strengthen their connection to God and Islam, through daily prayer and recitations of the Quran, as well as to their families and community. While Muslims abstain from eating during the fasting hours of Ramdan, they are also required to abstain from gossiping, lying, fighting, and all other “traits of bad character.”
After the thirty-day fast is over, on the first day of Shawwl, Muslims hold a large celebration known as “Eid ul-Fitr or the Festival of Breaking Fast.”