On May 5 began the most special month of Isla: Ramadan! Millions of Muslims around the world are celebrating this holy month where faith, compassion and sense of belonging to the community are more present than ever.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is an Islamic celebration that takes place this year from May 5 to June 4. Ramadan is also the name of the ninth month of the lunar calendar used by Muslims. During this month, the faithful are praying every day from the first hour of the day and are complying with one of the five pillars of Islam: the fasting or “swan”. At this time of the year, they must refrain from eating and drinking during the hours of daylight, that is, from dawn until sunset as indicated in their sacred book, the Koran. Therefore, Muslims generally eat two meals a day: the first meal is taken before the first dawn prayer and is called ‘Suhūr’ while the evening meal is known as ‘Iftar’. Ramadan is mandatory for all followers of Allah. However, not everyone must fast. This is the case for children, sick people, pregnant women as well as for menstruating women and people who are travelling. However, the latter two will have to make up for the missed fasting days at another time of the year.
Fasting is probably the most famous part of Ramadan, but the symbolism of this religious celebration goes much further!
The true meaning of Ramadan
The meaning of Ramadan goes beyond fasting! It is considered by Muslims as a form of self-purification from a religious point of view. During these days, Muslims are praying, repenting and reading the Koran entirely to be closer to God. Prayer is the other great protagonist of this celebration! Moreover, they also refrain from swearing or having sexual relations until nightfall during the entire month. It is not only a purification of the soul but also a purification of the body and the mind. And it requires a great mental strength and determination!
Ramadan is also about the union of the Islamic community around the world. During the celebration, Muslims are gathering to enjoy meals with their family of friends and therefore are strengthening the bonds that unite them! Ramadan is also the occasion to spend time with your neighbour!
It is also the occasion to share. The Koran states that the period of Ramadan is a period to be more generous and help the others by multiplying altruistic practises such as making donations. Because fasting also implies getting closer to the poorest and reflecting on their condition!
The ending of Ramadan
During the last ten days of Ramadan, takes place the so-called ‘Laylat al Qadr’ or ‘Night of Power’. Considered by many to be the holiest night of the year, it commemorates the revelation of the holy book of Islam, the Koran, to the prophet Muhammad. This day is such important in the religion that Muslims from all over the world are going to the mosques and pray all night long!
And, on the last day takes place the ‘Eid al-Fitr’, a celebration that puts an end to the fasting month. It begins very early with prayers in community and then Muslims visit their friends and family all day. Families are gathering to enjoy the most traditional dishes, to offer gifts to the children and sweets to their loved-ones as a symbol of gratitude.
It is by showing their love and best wishes that Muslims are ending the most special month of Islam!