With more than a billion followers, Islam is the world’s second largest religion after Christianity. A key aspect of practicing Islam is participating in the month-long holiday known as Ramadan, also spelled as Ramadhan. Here’s a little more information.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a holy month consisting of fasting, prayer, introspection, and charity. Ramadan occurs on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, which is determined by different moon phases. Due to this, Ramadan occurs during different time periods each year. This time is chosen because it is believed that it is the month that Muhammad received his first revelations of what later became the Quran.
For 2018, Ramadan began May 16th and will end on June 14th.
Fasting, also referred to as “Sawm,” is where participants will avoid impure thoughts, negative emotions, drinking, eating as well as other sinful behaviors of mentalities throughout the entire time period of Ramadan. Fasting is included within the five pillars of Islam and is intended to be a period of spiritual focus and encourages participants to concentrate on their relationship with God, charity in the community, and studying of the Quran.
Prior to sunrise, a meal known as “Suhur” is served which begins the daily fasting. This is the only meal of the day until the fast is broken with the meal called “Iftar” at dusk. The iftar meal often includes dates and is enjoyed with family and close friends. Between suhur and iftar, participants may not drink, eat, smoke or partake in any sexual activities.
A key reason for the fasting is to help remind Muslim’s of the importance of helping those around them who go through these feelings daily as well as minimizing distractions, so they can further build their relationship with God.
Members who are very young, elderly, pregnant or sick often do not partake in fasting, but will often eat in secluded areas or in private out of respect for those fasting. Participating Muslims will also tend to avoid loud music, cursing, and other potentially negative or distracting activities during Ramadan.
After the lunar cycle is complete, Muslim’s participate in Eid al-Fiter to mark the end of Ramadan. Often, communities hold festivals or parties to celebrate once the fasting has ended. The entire holiday is highly focused on spending time with loved ones and the community, keeping that theme consistent from beginning to end.
Other Things to Know
Two appropriate terms associated with the holiday are Ramadan Kareem, which translates to “Wishing you a happy/generous Ramadan,” and Ramadan Mubarak meaning “Have a blessed Ramadan.”
The symbol of the crescent moon and stars represents how Islam guides people and shows them how to live. The Ramadan Lantern symbol is called the Fanouz. Verses are usually written in calligraphy throughout the Ramadan holiday.
From our team at LewerMark International Student Insurance to you, Ramadan Kareem.
Author: Scout Deere
Scout is the Marketing Communications intern for the Lewer Agency. A senior at Oklahoma State, she studies Strategic Communications and plans to obtain her degree in December of 2018. Scout’s key focuses include public relations, marketing, and crisis communication.