In Islamic culture, Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year. Muslims observe the month of Ramadan to mark that Allah gave the first chapters of the Quran to Mohammad.
Ramadan starts this Thursday, 23rd April and continues for thirty days until Saturday 23rd May. It is a month of intense prayer, dawn to dusk fasting and nightly feasts.
Why do Muslims Fast?
Fasting is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam. Like in Christian tradition, fasting is a way to come closer to God. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It is a reminder of the suffering of those who are less fortunate. The month of Ramadan is a time when many Muslims donate to charity and feed the hungry.
Fasting is also a way to practice self-restraint. Fasting is a way to challenge bad habits and detoxify your life, both physically and spiritually. Fasting enables the Muslim to observe Ramadan as a period of personal reflection and spiritual growth.
The traditional way to break the fast is a sip of water and a few dates at sunset. This ritual is said to be the way Muhammad broke his fast 14 000 years ago.
The Feast after the Fast
After a sunset prayer, Muslims participate in a large feast known as Iftar. This feast is shared with family and friends. It is common tradition in Muslim society for communities to set up tables and tents so that the public can eat their Iftar meal each day for free. Eating together highlights the powerful symbol of unity brought forth by the period of Ramadan.
The End of Ramadan
At the end of Ramadan, a three day period of celebration called Eid al-Fitr occurs. During this celebration, Muslims celebrate the end of the fast. Family and friends share together in prayers and feasts. During this time, many Muslims continue to donate to the poor and needy.