Tonight, Friday, is the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The Muslim holiday involves fasting from dawn until sunset to honor the month when God first revealed the first verses of the Quran to Mohammed.
Fasting represents one of the five pillars of Islam– the others are faith, prayer, charitable giving, and a pilgrimage to Mecca. On Ramadan, Muslims can eat and drink, but only before sunrise and after sunset. Recognized as both a celebration and a time to practice discipline, Ramadan focuses on prayer, charity, and studying the Quran.
Eid al-Fitr (“Festival of the Breaking of the Fast”), a three day feast, is celebrated at the end of the holiday. According to the Islamic Association of Raleigh, Muslims must focus on two essential elements in fasting: Intention and “abstaining from acts that nullify the fast”, like intentionally eating, not making up days where a fast couldn’t be completed, and engaging in intercourse.
– Muslims must refrain from eating food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual activity from dawn to sunset, May 26 to Saturday, June 24. (This does not apply to women who are menstruating or having post child-birth bleeding)
– According to Vox, if you do not abide by the rules, you can either start over the next day, feast later in the year, or provide a meal to someone in need for the days you missed the fasting ritual
– The morning prayer is typically observed at dawn
– After sunset, a large evening meal is typically shared at the home of friends and family
Many misconceptions come with the celebration of Ramadan. People often believe you cannot shower during the holy month, but that isn’t true– showers are allowed, as long as you don’t swallow the water. Injections are also allowed for medical purposes– this does not invalidate the fast.
Each year, the dates of Ramadan vary depending on the moon, and the holiday length can sometimes change between locations.
As a month to grow closer to Allah, many Muslims look forward to the holiday of Ramadan, and the last ten nights of the event involve intense worship, and a subsequent three-day holiday marked by Eid al-Fitr.