The month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars
or principals of Islam. Muslims throughout the world celebrate
this holy time by abstaining from food during the hours of
daylight. The fast lasts for 30 days, and while exceptions
are made for the sick, elderly, pregnant and children, Ramadan
is a commandment which all healthy adult Muslims are expected
Dates for 2003
Ramadan takes place in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.
This year it begins on Oct 27th and ends on Nov 21st. The
exact dates are subject to a lunar calendar and the calendar
is around 1 month shorter each year.
What happens at Ramadan?
During the 30 days of Ramadan, between sunrise and sunset,
Muslims are forbidden from eating, drinking, smoking and engaging
in sexual relations. This is sacred time for worship and concentration
on the Islamic faith, rather than everyday trivialities.
Muslims visit the Mosque every day during Ramadan, to pray
together and study the Quran (Islamic Holy Book). As well
as the five daily prayers that are said throughout the year,
a special prayer called the Taraweeh or Night
Prayer is said during Ramadan. When the sun goes down
at the end of the day the fast is broken with a meal called
the iftar. After dinner, its customary to go out visiting
friends and family who live nearby.
During Ramadan, its particularly abhorrent for Muslims
to tell lies, slander others, denounce someone behind their
back, bear false witness or covet someone else possessions.
Though these things are considered offensive at all other
times of the year, they are thought to undo all the good gained
On the night of the 27th day of Ramadam, Muslims celebrate
Laylat-al-Qadr or Night of Power. It is said
that the Quran was revealed to Mohammed on this night , and
God determines the worlds course for the coming year.
Ramadan ends with a three day festival called Id-al-Fitr.
Its a time for friends and family to gather together
in prayer, exchange gifts and indulge in large meals.
What's the history of Ramadan?
Ramadan is the name of the 9th month of the Muslim calendar.
Muslims believe that this was when the Quran was revealed
to the prophet Mohammad by Heaven. The Quran itself requires
that this month should be a holy time of fasting and reflection:
One may eat and drink at any time during the night "until
you can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black thread
by the daylight: then keep the fast until night".
The word ramadan comes from the Arabic root word ramida,
which means heat or dryness. Ramadan
is so called because a parched feeling is experienced in the
stomach during fasting. Some also believe that Ramadan is
a time when God burns the bad deeds from the souls of the
If you are planning to visit a muslim country during Ramadan,
be sure to stock up on food from stores as many restaurants
and cafes will be closed until nightfall. As this is a holy
time, public services and opening hours in many places may
be drastically cut down.