Ramadan is an important part of the Muslim calendar, a time for Muslims to practice self-refrain, the holy month of fasting for the Muslims. From dawn to dusk, they refrain from food, drink, sexual activity, and behavior that is considered wrong among people (lies, bad deeds, bad words). This year, it is observed through April to May (April 12-May 11 2021). Ramadan is often shared with family and friends.
Muslim Family having a feast after Ramadan. Image Credit: Shutterstock / CC-BY
One interesting thing about Ramadan is that it takes place on different dates each year. This is because the Muslim calendar follows the cycle of the moon. Ramadan starts when the moon sighting committee in Saudi Arabia spots a crescent moon. Ramadan ends when they spot the next crescent moon. Spotting it is very tricky because it’s faint and only visible for 20 minutes. When they cannot see it, they predict where it would rise and decide the dates.
After sunset, Muslims can have their fasting meal, ifṭār. They share it with family and friends. They also have meals before dawn called suḥūr. Some people sound drums or bells to remind other people to have their suḥūr too. If someone eats or drinks at the wrong time, they make up with an extra fasting day. If they are sick, they make up with extra fasting days too. People who are not healthy or strong enough to fast (pregnant women, children, the old, the weak, people with mental illness) are not required to fast for Ramadan.
When the fasting days are over, Muslims have a special feast to celebrate the end of the fast. They call the feast Eid al-Fitr, the feast of fast-breaking. This is one of the two major holidays of the Muslim calendar. In some Muslim communities, people celebrate by giving children new clothes to wear, women wearing white clothes, eating and making special pastries, exchanging gifts, etc. People also meet their families and have family dinners then pray in mosques (the religious building for prayer in Islam).
We interviewed Fahima, a fellow 7th grader that is fasting for Ramadan. According to her, a typical day of Ramadan is waking up at 3:30 AM for Suhoor (what her family eats before fasting each day); she can eat and drink until 4:30 AM when the sun rises. She then fasts the whole day until sundown, around 6:50 PM, when she breaks her fast.
There are some things you could not do in front of friends that are fasting for Ramadan. Some actions can be seen as disrespectful to them. Fahima says that you should not show them eating food and teasing them for not being able to. She also said that you could respect and understand that they are going through a lot and be there for them.
Ramadan is one of the most major events of the year. A whole month practicing self-refrain. As Fahima said, people who are fasting are going through a lot, you should be respectful of them. We give a shout-out to all friends that are fasting.