Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community before Eid, is coming up in April this year.
Ramadan marks the month when the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Throughout the period, Muslims spend 30 days abstaining from all food and fluids, during daylight hours. No water is allowed to be consumed during this time either.
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Fasting (sawm) is one of the five pillars of Islam – the fundamental rules that all Muslims follow – along with the Shahadah (declaration of faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (charity) and the Hajj pilgrimage.
Muslims observing the fast are encouraged to read the Quran and this is also recited at the Tarawih, special nightly prayers that are held throughout the month.
When is Ramadan in 2021?
This year, Ramadan will begin on 12 or 13 of April. Though this depends on the first sighting of a crescent moon following the new moon, therefore the exact date of celebrations is uncertain until that happens.
The Islamic calendar is based on the cycle of the moon, meaning the date Ramadan falls on varies from year to year.
Who takes part in fasting?
All practising Muslims who have reached puberty are expected to fast during Ramadan. However, there are some exceptions, including menstruating or pregnant women and people who are sick or have an illness.
The fasting period begins and ends at different times each day, as the period between sunrise and sunset grows as Ramadan progresses.
The day’s abstinence is offset by a pre-dawn meal called sahur and a nightly meal known as iftar.
At sunset, ‘Adhan’ – the prayer which signifies the end of the fast – is read and then worshippers traditionally eat dates with juice, milk or water to break their fast.
Ramadan is expected to draw to a close on 12 May this year, this is when the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr is held.
What happens at Eid?
Eid al-Fitr is also called the ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, and is celebrated with lights, decorations and gifts, with worshippers often dressing up in bright colours and decorating their homes. This year, Eid al-Fitr will begin on the evening Wednesday, May 12 and end on May 13.
In 2020, mosques were forced to close to the public during Ramadan due to coronavirus restrictions. Therefore, it will be welcome news that Muslims in many countries will be able to attend their local mosque to participate in prayers.