Ramadan Kareem Image

How Muslims Around the World Celebrate Ramadan

Mar 21, 2023

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Ramadan Kareem Image

Image: pikisuperstar / Freepik

 

On the 23rd of March is the first day of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia and many Muslim countries. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is observed by Muslims worldwide through fasting and other religious practices. For Saudis like all Muslims around the world, Ramadan’s significance as a time for spiritual and physical discipline, prayer, acts of charity, and connecting with God.

 

Time of Ramadan:

Ramadan is a holy month in the Islamic calendar and is determined by the lunar calendar. Unlike the solar-based Gregorian calendar which has a fixed number of days in a year, the lunar calendar has only 354 days. This means that Ramadan shifts approximately 11 days earlier each year on the Gregorian calendar. This is because the lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, which is about 29.5 days, so it takes about 12 lunar months to complete one year.

The beginning of Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the new moon. Muslims around the world eagerly anticipate its arrival and look for the first sighting of the new moon, which marks the start of the holy month. In many Muslim countries, the day of the beginning of Ramadan differs from each other because it depends on whether the moon has been seen or not. In the past, these were usually people who spotted the moon and that differs from one country to another.

 

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is the month in which the Quran is believed to be revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Fasting during Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam and requires Muslims to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk for 30 days. Children who have not reached puberty, the elderly, those who are physically or mentally incapable of fasting, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and travelers are exempt. Days that have been missed must be recasted during the year before the next Ramdan starts.

 

Why Fasting?

Fasting teaches patience and reminds Muslims of the less fortunate, reinforcing the need to be thankful. Fasting allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith and teaches self-discipline, reminding them of the suffering of the poor.

Ramadan is also a time for spirituality, with Muslims giving up bad habits and increasing their prayers and recitation of the Quran. Muslims also give generously to charity during Ramadan, as it is believed that good deeds are multiplied during this holy month.

 

Who fasts?

In the Islamic faith, observing the fast during the holy month of Ramadan is mandatory for all adult Muslims who are physically and mentally capable of doing so. However, there are several exceptions to this rule, such as children, the elderly, the sick, pregnant and nursing women, and travelers and other exemptions. Moreover, if an individual is unable to fast due to a chronic illness or any other health condition, they may be exempt from fasting but are required to make up for the missed days at a later time.

Saudi children like other Muslim children are taught to fast gradually by practicing half-day fasting, such as from breakfast to lunch or from lunch to Iftar, to help them become accustomed to the practice of fasting.

 

What Ramadan is about:

Ramadan is more than just fasting during the day for Muslims; it is a time for spiritual reflection and growth. Muslims strive to give up bad habits and increase their good deeds, such as prayers and Quran recitation. In the evenings, special prayers called taraweeh and tahajud are held in many mosques, providing a unique Ramadan experience. Giving generously to charity is also an important aspect of Ramadan, as good deeds are believed to be multiplied during this holy month. Families come together for the breaking of the fast, or iftar, and companies often provide iftar for their employees, bringing Muslims and non-Muslims together.

Before Ramadan, in Saudi Arabia and some Gulf countries many traditional bazaars take place selling women’s traditional dresses thobes which women wear during Ramadan. However, this is a cultural tradition rather than a religious one.

 

Time to Eat and Drink:

Muslims around the world fast from dawn to dusk for 30 days during Ramadan and break their fast at sunset with a meal called iftar, typically consisting of dates and water, followed by the sunset prayer, Maghreb, and then a larger meal with family and friends. In Saudi Arabia, it used to be a common practice to have light food, Arabic coffee, and offer prayers before sleeping, followed by a grand meal for iftar. However, many families now have their iftar meal immediately after breaking their fast with dates and liquids.

The last meal before beginning their fast is Suhur, which is eaten before the morning Fajr prayer. Usually it should be a nutritious meal during to ensure that the body has enough fuel to sustain the fast throughout the day.

 

Work and Life in Ramadan:

During Ramadan, many people experience shorter working hours, and exams and projects are often avoided due to the physical and mental demands of fasting. Lately, Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries announce school hours and work hours in a few weeks before starting of Ramadan.

Individuals typically have lower energy levels during the day and are more productive at night after breaking their fast.

In addition, shops tend to open a few hours after the second prayer duhur and close before Iftar to give people ample time to prepare for the evening meal. These same shops then reopen and remain open until late at night to accommodate those who need to purchase food or supplies.

While supermarkets typically remain open 24/7 during Ramadan, shopping for food becomes a top priority for many people during this time. It is common to see individuals stocking up on food and supplies as if there is no tomorrow in preparation for iftar or suhur.

Ramadan is a month of intense spiritual and physical discipline for Muslims in Saudi Arabian and worldwide. It is a time for self-reflection, prayer, and acts of charity, as well as a time for connecting with God and strengthening one’s faith. Ramadan is an essential aspect of the Islamic.

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