‘A Beginner’s Guide to Ramadan’


With 22% of the world’s population preparing for the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, where prayer, fasting and giving to charity become the focus of Muslims’ everyday lives for an entire month, we offer a short guide to Ramadan for expats and visitors who would like to learn more.

The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan begins with the sighting of the last full-moon of the year. For the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, this annual event represents the start of a month-long fasting period alongside a focus on prayer, purification and charitable acts.

During this holy month, Muslims do not let food or drink pass their lips from dawn to dusk. Fasting is seen as a way to purify both spiritually and physically; a time to disengage from material recreation and amusement and reach out to God. The act of fasting is also believed to enhance Muslims’ piety by reminding them that there are others who are less privileged than themselves.

Fasting is one of the five pillars sustaining the Islamic faith (the others being prayer, giving a percentage of your salary to charity, going on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and, naturally, a belief in the Muslim faith). For the duration of Ramadan it is customary to have one meal (suhoor) just before sunrise and another (iftar) straight after sunset. Furthermore, because it is a time to spend with friends and family, the fast is frequently broken by people coming together to share in an evening meal.

Ramadan is more than just fasting though. Other physical pleasures are also discontinued, whilst the spiritual is emphasized: it is a month to cleanse the soul, refocus awareness on God, and practice self-discipline and sacrifice. This includes making peace with one’s adversaries and refraining from immoral actions, thoughts and words. It is also a time to feel grateful for fresh water, abundant food, and the love of friends and family. In the modern world, there are so many who do not enjoy these basic human rights and Ramadan is a reminder to Muslims of the millions of poor, homeless and underprivileged people who suffer throughout the year.

The end of Ramadan is marked by a big celebration called ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. At this time, Muslims are not only celebrating the end of the fast, but are thanking Allah for the help and strength that he gave them to practice self-discipline throughout Ramadan.

To encapsulate, Ramadan is a time to practice self-control; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one’s self on the worship of God and charity to mankind.

  • By Bilal Al Halabi, Al Halabi Ref. & Kitchen Equipment www.al-halabi.com


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