Oakton Outlook

What is Ramadan?

Explaining what the holiest month in Islam is

Yara Mohamed, staff writer

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For about a billion people, Ramadan is a time to strengthen their faith and connection to Allah(God). It is also a time heavily spent with family. From Morocco to Indonesia, it’s celebrated across the globe. But what exactly is Ramadan and how is does each country’s traditions influence it?

This year, Ramadan began on the evening of May 26 and will most likely end on the evening of June 24. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, so each year it’s a different date. Because the month is based on the lunar moon, the start date changes every year by 11 days.

In Ramadan, people fast by abstaining from food and drinks from sunrise to sunset. People wake up early to eat Suhoor,meal before sunrise, before Fajr prayer and break their fast at Iftar, meal after sunset, after Maghrib prayer.Fasting, also known as Sawm, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Fasting helps people appreciate food and understand what the less fortunate go through. It’s obligatory to fast but there are exceptions such as if one is elderly or sick. If they are well enough after Ramadan, they are required to make up the missed fasts. At the end of the day, people are recommend to pray the Taraweeh, a special evening prayer where 1/30th of the Quran is read every night.

Muslims all around the world celebrate holy month of Ramadan

People also abstain from other things such as smoking or gossiping. And some people try to limit their consumption of music and movies that could waste their time. They try to spend that time praying or reciting Quran, since Ramadan is seen as the holiest month of year and the month the Quran was revealed. People also give to charity, also known as Zakat, to the needy during this month. Millions of people also travel to the Ka’aba in Mecca to complete their Hajj, another pillar of Islam with Sawm and Zakat. After the month of Ramadan comes Eid Al-Fitr, which lasts for three days. It’s a celebration of the end of Ramadan with feasts, games, and gifts. Eid Al-Fitr is determined after the sighting of the new crescent moon, also known as the Shawwal moon. This determines if Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days. There is also another Eid later in the year, Eid ul Adha. Eid ul Adha is known as the Greater Eid because of its importance in Islam, while Eid Al-Fitr is known as the Lesser Eid because it marks the end of Ramadan.

With so many people celebrating Ramadan and Eid around the world, it usually differs because of the different cultural influences. In Morocco, like many other Islamic countries, Eid is recognized as an official religious holiday. People head out for Eid prayer and continue celebrating at home with feasts and by visiting family. Gift giving and other commercial things are not as common here as they are in other parts of the world for Eid. In Indonesia, Eid is known as Lebaran. Like Morocco, people in Indonesia start the day off with Eid prayer. Later in the day they visit family where they feast and receive clothing and gifts.

Andy Wong

In Pakistan, school is closed so schoolchildren can go home and celebrate Eid with their families. Like Morocco and Indonesia, they head to Eid prayers in their best clothes. People receive Eidi, which is the traditional gift of money. Donating is also a big part of the celebration. The Hoshyar Foundation gives new school uniforms, which for some is their best quality clothes they own. And like many other countries, women adore their hands with henna, a powdered leaf that stains temporarily.

No matter where and who is celebrating, people are all celebrating the same thing and for the same reason. People fast for Ramadan from all over the world to get closer to Allah and to understand the less fortunate. They end Ramadan with the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr and wait for next year.

Do you think it's important to learn about other culture's traditions?

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What is Ramadan?