Ramadan The Month of Fasting
|Fast Facts: Ramadan|
|Names||Ramadan, Ramazan, Ramazani, Ramezan, Ramzan, Ramzaun, Rhamadan, Romadan|
|Meaning||recognizes the month in which God revealed the Qur'an to humankind|
|Greeting||Ramadan Mubarak ("May God give you a blessed month") reply: Ramadan Karim ("May God give you a generous month")|
|Date||entire month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar; begins with the first sighting of the crescent moon so the date may vary across countries|
|Dates||April 12, 2021-May 11, 2021
April 2, 2022-May 1, 2022
March 22, 2023-April 20, 2023
Ramadan is not an Islamic holiday, but the name of the ninth month of the Islamic year. It was during the month of Ramadan that "the Quran was sent down as a guidance for mankind" (Qur'an 2:185), so each year Muslims commemorate this event by fasting from sunrise to sunset, among other observances, for the entire month.
Date of Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is lunar and shorter than the solar calendar. Thus Ramadan falls 10-12 days earlier on the Gregorian calendar each year. The beginning and end of Ramadan are announced when one trustworthy witness testifies before the authorities that the crescent moon has been sighted; a cloudy sky may, therefore, delay or prolong the fast. The end of the fast is celebrated with one of the two major Islamic festivals, 'Id al-Fitr.
Fasting During Ramadan
The primary observance of Ramadan is fasting. For the entire month of Ramadan, those who are able must abstain from food and drink (including water), evil thoughts and deeds, and sexual intercourse from dawn until dusk for the entire month.
Because the holiday cycles through the solar year, this fast can be much more challenging in some years than others. When Ramadan falls in the summer season, the days of fasting are longer and it is a greater hardship to do without water.
Non-Muslims in Islamic countries during Ramadan must be careful not to eat, drink, or smoke in the presence of Muslims during the daytime hours of fasting, as the law requires adherence to the fast in public.
Other Ramadan Rituals and Observances
Ramadan is also a time of increased devotion, prayer, and reading of the Qur'an. During the last 10 days, some pious Muslims will practice a spiritual retreat (called i'tikaf) in a mosque,1849 as recommended by the Qur'an (2:187).
The traditional greeting during Ramadan is "Ramadan Mubarak" ("May God give you a blessed month") and the reply is "Ramadan Karim" ("May God give you a generous month").
Fasting Periods in Other Faiths
Ramadan has some similarities to Lent in Christianity and Yom Kippur in Judaism, which are periods of fasting, spiritual reflection, and atonement; Ramadan, however, is seen less as atonement and more as an obedient response to a command from Allah to practice self-restraint.1847
- “When is Ramadan?.” MuslimAid.
- “Ramadan.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
- “Ramadan.” Bowker, John, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- “'Itikaf.” Bowker, John, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- “Ramadan.” IslamiCity.
- “Ramadan: Muslims take part in Itikaf - a spiritual retreat.” 3 June 2019.
- “Bristol man on giving up Netflix for Ramadan.” 29 May 2019.