Ramadan explained: Everything you need to know about the Islamic holy month
- Credit: PA
With Ramadan 2021 in full swing, the Recorder has taken an in-depth look at the holy month and its significance for Muslim people.
Ramadan was welcomed this year by Muslims across the UK on Tuesday, April 13, following an announcement by the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court of the crescent moon sighting.
While the beginning of Ramadan can vary from country to country by up to two days, depending on visibility of the crescent moon by naked eye alone, Muslims in the West adhere to Saudi Arabia’s ruling as it is home to many Islamic and historic sites.
The ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, otherwise known as the Hijri calendar, Ramadan refers to the immigration of the Prophet Muhammad from his hometown in Mecca to Medina – two of the most prominent cities based in the Arabian Peninsula.
Ramadan comes around 11 days earlier every year and is considered a sacred month, as Muslims believe the first revelation of the Quran- the Islamic holy book - was sent down from God by the Angel Gabriel and recited to the prophet of Islam.
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Fasting is a form of worship practised in various religions, but for Muslims it is an obligatory duty to fast from dusk until dawn for all healthy and able adults throughout the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan.
This means Ramadan will end on May 12 this year.
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Exceptions to the rule apply for those with health risks and for travellers, pregnant women and people on their menstrual cycle.
Ramadan is intended to encourage Muslims to self reflect, increase worship, and practice self-control.
Complete abstinence of food and drink is not the only requirement; Muslims must also refrain from using derogatory language and showing bad manners. It is also a requirement that Muslims do not engage in any permitted sexual activity while fasting.
Another requirement of Ramadan is that Muslims who can afford to must give to charitable causes, specifically by feeding hungry, sick and needy people.
Other than being one of the obligatory five pillars of Islam, fasting allows Muslims to experience food deprivation and so can instil a sense of compassion with people living with starvation.
Despite the obvious hardship of Ramadan, many Muslims look forward to it each year, as they believe it is a particularly blessed and peaceful month.