23 August 2009
Happy Ramadan my dear Muslima friends
Ramadan in the Muslim World
The month of Ramadan is a time for both religious and non-religiously observant
Muslims, and others in societies where Ramadan is celebrated, to place limits on
themselves as way to gain greater personal self-knowledge. While Ramadan is an
important month in the Islamic calendar and culture, this resources concentrates on three
essential parts of Ramadan, which are, in Arabic:
• Sowm, or fasting
• Iftar, or breaking the fast on a daily basis
• Eid al Fitr, or the end of Ramadan three day feast
When Is Ramadan?
The traditional Muslim calendar (called the Hijri calendar) and the dates of
holidays in the religious year follow the lunar cycle.
The lunar calendar is based on the moon’s orbit of the earth of 29 ½ days.
According to the Muslim calendar, Ramadan begins when you can first see the tiniest
crescent of moon after the new moon in the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar.
What is Ramadan?
Each day during the month of Ramadan individuals are invited to fast during daily light hours, to pray and to celebrate with family and friends. At the end of the month is a three-day holiday that celebrates the conclusion of the month and prepares the individual to return to their regular daily routine.
One of the most recognizable parts of Ramadan is fasting by individuals. Fasting, in
Arabic called sowm, consists of not eating, drinking or taking part in sexual activity
during day light hours during the month. The purpose of fasting is to change the daily
routine of fasters to allow for new thinking and reflection. While some countries with
significant Muslim communities, such as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Egypt and Malaysia
may have strong communal impulses towards fasting such as closing restaurants and
making fasting the societal norm, the act of fasting is always a personal choice of the
individual. Not all Muslims fast during Ramadan. Muslims who are not religiously
observant may not fast. Those who are observant but are ill, traveling or pregnant do not
fast. Many countries where Ramadan is celebrated have significant non-Muslim
communities. These communities may also fast or break the fasts with their friends.
While Ramadan is about individuals limiting themselves during day light hours of food
and drink, during the evening get-togethers of friends and families over food is usually a
highlight of the day. At the end of each day, fasters will break the fast with a meal, called
iftar. Usually the meal is a simple one designed to provide nourishment, but it may also
be a time to gather family and friends for large meals that celebrate being together. For
religiously observant Muslims, the breaking the fast time may also be accompanied by
special readings of the Qur’an.
As the end of Ramadan approaches, Muslims prepare for eid al-fitr which draws
Ramadan to a close. In countries where there are are significant Muslim communities
much of society, economy and government life may come to a halt. Schools and
businesses often close for three days. Eid is a time of gift giving, sharing food, gathering
with family and taking a holiday.