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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?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and it begins on the first sighting of the crescent moon.

In 2020, Ramadan begins in Canada on the evening of April 23 and ends on May 23. These dates might change closer to the beginning of Ramadan depending on when the crescent moon appears.

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 Ramadan observed?

Due to current events celebrations are more challenging, but let's see how Ramadan observations and celebrations have usually occurred in the past.

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

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims take part in extra prayer.

They also fast (go without food and drinks) during daylight for the whole month. There are several groups who do not have to fast during Ramadan including young children, the elderly, people with an illness and pregnant women.

Muslims have a meal known as suhoor just before dawn to help get them through the day. Then they don’t eat or drink until the sun sets.

At that time, family and friends gather together for a large feast called iftar. The meal traditionally begins with the eating of dates, and other dishes vary with the country you live in.

Fasting during Ramadan is a way for Muslims to remind themselves of the poor around the world who don’t have enough to eat. This encourages actions of generosity and charity. It is also a reminder of the blessings that are provided to them by Allah.

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, the religious text of Islam. 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.

Want to learn more? Check out Eid al-Fitr: It's all about generosity and gratitude