Monday 12th April marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. Falling on the 9th month of the lunar year, Ramadan is considered the most integral part of Islam. This period of fasting and reflection has been observed by all Muslims around the world for over 14 centuries, and is considered a time of peace and patience. Today, nearly a quarter of the world’s population observe the fast during daylight hours, but although it is widely respected by people form all cultures across the globe, few outside of Islam know the history and significance of this holy time.
Ramadan is the remembrance and celebration of the month the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel is A.D. 610. Since then, Ramadan has been observed as a time of self-reflection, whereby in refraining from food & drink during daylight hours, Muslims are able to focus their time and energy on strengthening their bond with Allah. Indeed, rooted in the Five Pillars of Islam, fasting (Sawm) is one of the core values every Muslim is obligated to follow.
However, whilst those partaking in Ramadan are expected to abstain fast during this period, it is common to have a meal (known as the Suhoor) just before dawn, and another (known as the Iftar) just after sunset. The Suhoor is a vital part of fasting and it is encouraged to eat foods that provide the necessary nutrition and energy to get through until the Iftar. Those who skip Suhoor (as many people of all backgrounds skip morning breakfast) often find it difficult to maintain their daytime fast and find that they are more tempted to break it. The Iftar, however, is very much a social event involving family and community members. Here, it is common for people to host others for dinner, and to share food with those less fortunate, where charitable giving is especially important during Ramadan.
Whilst many focus on Ramadan as a fasting period, it is also important to remember that it is a time of celebration and joy, to be spent with loved ones. After 30 days of daylight fasting, Wednesday 12th May 2021 will mark the end of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. This allows friends and family to come together to exchange presents and enjoy large meals, and ultimately reflect on their shared growth and sacrifice.