The holiest month in the Islamic calendar, which sees Muslims undertake a 30-day fast starts in May.
When did Ramadan Start?
Although Ramadan is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, its date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year.
This year in the UK, Ramadan begins on the 5th May and finishes on Tuesday 4 June.
Ramadan marks the month when Allah revealed the Qur’an to prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam – a verse in the Qur’an prescribes it for all mature and healthy Muslims. Muslims fast as an act of worship, a chance to get closer to Allah and a way to become more compassionate to those in need.
The term ‘Ramada’ comes from the Arabic word ramida or arramad which means scorching hear or dryness, as ‘’it normally falls in a hot time of the year’’.
Fasting is the most well-known and important part of the month. Practicing Muslims are not allowed to eat between sunrise and sunset to help teach ‘self discipline, self-restraint and generosity’’. It’s common to have one meal, the suhoor, just before sunrise and another known as the iftar directly after sunset.
Non-Muslims, young children, the sick, people with mental health illnesses, travellers, the elderly and women who are menstruating, pregnant, breast feeding or have recently given birth do not have to fast.
The government’s advisory, conciliation and arbitration service has a page for helping employers support Muslim employees during Ramadan, and warns that ‘Fasting may affect people in different ways’’.
Tips for fasting
Stay healthy this year! Eat at least two meals a day – the suhoor and iftar and pack them with complex carbohydrates such as wheat, oats, lentils and basmati rice that release energy slowly.
High-fat and high-sugar foods are not recommended and fasters should instead eat baked samosas, boiled dumplings, grilled meat and milk based puddings.
The Night of Power?
On the 27th day of Ramada, Muslims mark Lailat Al Qadr – the ‘Night of Power’.
This is Islam’s holiest night and commemorates the day the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It involved spending the night praying, studying and reciting the holy text.
The exact day of Lailat al Qadr was never actually specified by he Prophet (pbuh) and some Muslims choose to commemorate all the last ten days of Ramadan as if they were Lailat Al Qadr.
Marking the end of Ramadan
To make the end of fasting, Muslim celebrate the Eid ul-Fitr festival, beginning with early morning prayers and then a day of feasting with friends and family.
Many Muslims wear their best and new clothes to celebrate eating their first daylight meal in a month and give thanks to Allah for giving them strength and self control. They exchange gifts and decorate their homes for celebrations.
As well as fasting, Muslims are also asked to give away 2.5% of their wealth during the 30-day festival as part of Zakat.