It’s that time of year again: Ramadan is almost here! You may have some Muslim friends or colleagues and might be wondering what this month is all about. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is most commonly known as the month of fasting.
All About Ramadan
Ramadan is a month-long observance and there are more than two billion Muslims in the world that partake in it. So, chances are you might meet someone, at some point in your life, who is fasting. Muslims fast from before sunrise to sundown each day, for twenty-nine or thirty days, which is based on the lunar calendar, or from one new moon to the next.
During this month, Muslims don’t eat or drink during the day. And no, not even water. To begin the day, Muslims wake up early in the morning before dawn and eat a meal called suhoor. They then fast the entire day and break their fast at sunset, with an evening meal called iftar. It is customary to break one’s fast with a date, and other traditional foods, which vary from region to region.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for every able Muslim. The exceptions include those who are sick, elderly, mentally or physically unable, children, and women who are menstruating, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
While the most basic understanding of Ramadan is not eating and drinking, it is about so much more than that. Other than food, Muslims are supposed to abstain from wrongdoing and focus instead on increasing acts of worship, such as praying, remembering God, giving charity, reading Quran, and helping others.
Ramadan is also a time of community. Many Muslims gather together for communal iftars as well as nightly prayers called taraweh. While fasting is the responsibility of each and every Muslim, there is a real sense of community during the month of Ramadan as Muslims worldwide are all fasting and going through the same thing.
At the end of the month, Muslims celebrate Eid – a day of celebration that starts with a special prayer, and includes visiting family and friends, eating special dishes, and giving gifts. Many people buy new clothes for the occasion and plan big parties to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
Ramadan Resources for Further Learning
Here are a few books about Ramadan and Muslims available in the WPL catalogue:
WPL Ramadan Event
WPL also hosting a virtual Ramadan Celebration on Saturday, April 16 from 1-2pm in partnership with the Coalition of Muslim Women to mark this Ramadan with an afternoon of trivia, stories, and crafts! Everyone is welcome to attend! Please note that registration includes a celebration craft kit, and will be available for pick-up at the library one week before the event. To learn more about the event, and to register, visit WPL’s event calendar.
Ramadan Mubarak to all those who are observing!
Featured Image Credit: Muslim Aid Media Centre