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Bengal Palace blog

Understanding Ramadan

Julia Johnson - Tuesday, May 29, 2018

This month is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, and as Muslims, we undertake a fast for 30 days which ends in mid-June.

Muslims around the world will, together, adhere to the 30-day period of fasting and abstinence.

The dates of Ramadan change each year with the coming of the new moon. Because of this, come countries observe the fast on different days, but in the UK, Ramadan 2018 began on 15 May and finished on 14 June.

Most people are aware of the fast, which means that practising Muslims are not allowed to eat between sunrise and sunset. This teaches ‘self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity’. It is common to have a meal just before dawn and another directly after sunset.

Young children, the sick, people with mental health illnesses and the elderly as well as those who are breastfeeding or pregnant, do not strictly have to fast. Fasting can affect people in different ways such as becoming irritable or tired.

The NHS publish tips for fasting on their website as some people have very responsible jobs and need to maintain a balanced diet.

So why is the month so significant?

Ramadan marks the month when Allah revealed the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam prescribed for all mature and healthy Muslims. It is seen as an act of worship, a way to become closer to Allah and more compassionate to those in need.

On the 27th day of Ramadan, Muslims mark the ‘Night of Power’ – Lailat al Qadr; the holiest night when many Muslims will spend the night praying, studying and reciting passages from the Koran.

To mark the end of fasting, a celebration called Eid ul-Fitr festival is held, starting with morning prayers and then a day of feasting with friends and family. As well as fasting, Muslims are asked to give away 2.5% of their wealth during the 30-day festival.

Many Muslims will celebrate Eid by wearing their best clothes and eating their first daylight meal in a month. They exchange gifts and decorate their homes, thanking Allah for giving them strength and self-control.

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