5 things to know about Ramadan

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. It is believed the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during this month. The Islamic calendar follows the lunar year and is shorter than the Gregorian calendar, so Ramadan shifts back about 10 days every year. Depending on the sighting of the new moon, and where in the world you live, Ramadan is set to begin June 6th or 7th this year. You can greet Muslims with the phrase “Ramadan Kareem” which means “generous Ramadan”.

How does fasting work?

During the month of Ramadan, millions of Muslims around the world will fast from before dawn to sunset. Many will wake up early for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, and break their fast with dates and water at sunset, enjoying the iftaar meal with family and friends.

Because Ramadan lands during the month of June this year, Muslims in Toronto will fast for about 17 hours of daylight. During the fast they are required to abstain from food and water, as well as smoking and sexual intercourse. They are also encouraged to refrain from distasteful behavior such as lying, cursing, or speaking negatively about others behind their back.

Who is exempt from fasting?

The sick, elderly, young children, anyone who is travelling a long distance, and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or menstruating are all exempt from fasting. Those who cannot fast during Ramadan can make up the fasts later in the year, or donate to charity instead.

Why do Muslims fast?

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam (The others are: belief in one God, and Muhammad as his final messenger; five daily prayers; giving to charity, and pilgrimage to Makkah during one’s lifetime). It is a time for spiritual reflection, a means to practice patience and self-restraint, and an opportunity to remember those less fortunate.

When does Ramadan end?

Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the new moon. The end of Ramadan is celebrated with Eid-ul-Fitr and is typically marked with a special morning prayer, visits with family and friends, and a donation to charity.

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