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Ramadan: be good to yourself and to others

 

Ramadan is one of the most important months for the religion of Islam. Find out why it is so meaningful to millions of Muslims around the world.

When is it?

Crescent moon during Ramadan.
Photo by jay tornaquia licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and it begins on the first sighting of the crescent moon. This year, it begins in Canada on the evening of May 16 and ends on June 14. Ramadan is important to Muslims because it’s believed that the ninth month of the calendar is when Allah (God) revealed Islam’s holy book — the Qur'an — to the prophet Muhammad.

How is it observed?

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims take part in intense prayer. They also fast (go without food and drinks) during daylight for the whole month. (Young kids don’t have to fast during Ramadan.) Muslims have a meal known as suhoor before sunrise to help get them through the day. Then they don’t eat or drink anything at all until the sun sets. At that time, family and friends gather together for a large feast called iftar.

Close-up of a young Muslim girl .
(AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

So why do Muslims refrain from eating all day long? Fasting during Ramadan is a way for Muslims to remind themselves of the poor around the world who don’t have enough to eat. It is also a reminder of the blessings that are provided to them by Allah.

Men standing up, heads bowed and holding their hands above their tummies.
Men take part in late night prayer. Photo by Omar Chatriwala licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Are there any other special traditions?

Quran, the holy book, sits open.
Photo via Pixabay.

During Ramadan, Muslims spend a lot of time praying and reading the Qur'an. Many also attend prayerful services in mosques to hear readings from the Qur'an. Another important part of Ramadan is donating to charities. During the month, Muslims around the world are dedicated to donating money and food to help people who are in need.

What happens at the end of Ramadan?

A man scoops up fresh dates in an open-air market.
Photo by Omar Chatriwala licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When Ramadan comes to an end, a three-day festival is held. This celebration is called Eid al-Fitr, which means the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. During this festival, families and friends gather to celebrate. They decorate their homes, dress in fine clothes, and exchange gifts. Large feasts with a variety of foods are held outdoors to mark the end of Ramadan. These celebrations continue over three days.