The Islamic holy month Ramadan begins the evening of April 12 in the U.S. Here is what you need to know about the holy Islamic celebration.
What is Ramadan, and why is it important?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is believed that the holy scripture, the Quran, was given to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad during this time.
Is Ramadan the same time each year?
Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar, which consists of a 12 month year of approximately 354 days, so each lunar month moves 11 days each year.
How do Muslims celebrate Ramadan?
Followers of the Islamic faith will celebrate Ramadan by fasting, not eating or drinking any food or water from dawn to dusk each day, according to the Islamic Networks Group. These fasting periods can range from 11-16 hours per day. Before fasting each day, Muslims will begin with a pre-fast meal called suhur, and then begin the fajr, the first prayer of the day. At dusk, Muslims celebrate with the meal known as the iftar, which means "breaking the fast," often shared with family and friends.
This ritual of daily fasting gives Muslims a period of spiritual reflection, and also provides health benefits to followers. Muslims will also avoid negative acts like gossiping, lying, or arguing during the month.
Do all Muslims have to fast during Ramadan?
Muslims who have reached the age of puberty and are of good physical and mental health are expected to fast. But those for whom fasting may be a hardship are not required to fast. Reasons for not fasting include travel, menstruation, women who are pregnant or currently breastfeeding, or those with disabilities or illnesses.
How do Muslims give charity during Ramadan?
Charity is a very important practice in Islam. During Ramadan, Muslims will often hold food drives or fundraisers to help the less fortunate.
What other rituals do Muslims perform during Ramadan?
Many Muslims will perform an extra prayer at night during Ramadan called "taraweeh." Muslims will also celebrate the Lailat al-Qadar later in the month, which is the day many believe the Quran was first revealed.
When Ramadan is finished, Muslims will celebrate with the Eid al-Fitr, or the "Festival of the Breaking of the Fast," according to the Islamic Networks Group. During this celebration, children receive gifts from family and friends. Muslims may also recite a special prayer during the morning of Eid Day, followed by a community celebration with food and games.