Ramadan: Muslims worldwide embrace month of fasting and prayer

“O ye who believe! (The) Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.”

-The Quran

Mosque lit at night with people gathered

Muslims gather for a Quran reading during Ramadan in Iran. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SUNSET TUESDAY, MAY 15: The crescent moon shines in the night sky as Ramadan 2018 begins for Muslims around the globe, ushering in a month of daytime fasting, intense prayer and shared nighttime meals. Though an official moon sighting—and start date of Ramadan—is announced from Saudi Arabia, localized moon sightings may still vary slightly by region. (Learn more here about the crescent moon sighting, vital to the start of Ramadan, from the website of the main North American council of Islamic scholars.)

As the Islamic calendar is lunar, the beginning and end of Ramadan is based on a crescent moon sighting that is typically visible 1-2 days after the astronomical new moon. The end of Ramadan—the ninth month of the Islamic calendar—is met with Eid al-Fitr, a festival of the breaking of the fast. Eid al-Fitr marks the beginning of the next lunar month, Shawwal, and is a time of great feasting and family celebrations.

Quran and blue prayer beads

Photo courtesy of Pxhere

RAMADAN: MUHAMMAD AND THE QURAN

Of every month in the calendar, Muslims hold Ramadan to be the most favorable for the revelations of God to humankind. Specifically, Ramadan recalls the month when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Because the Quran was given to the Prophet during this month, Muslims usually spend more time with the Quran—often visiting mosques and other Muslim centers where the entire Quran will be recited aloud during the course of the month.

During this special month, devotees also gain a better understanding of the conditions surrounding those less fortunate around the world, and charitable works skyrocket during Ramadan.

FASTING (AND THE IFTAR)

Tradition states that God not only suggested fasting, but demanded it for those physically and mentally able. During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, all able Muslims are required to refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours in the hopes that they will gain a closer relationship with Allah.

A fast-breaking meal known as Iftar replenishes the body’s food stores after a long day: the meal starts with dates, in the practice of Muhammad himself, followed by a feast prepared for family and friends. (Check out this site for healthy, authentic meal ideas that utilize all five food groups.)

During the night, Muslim countries are alight and alive with lanterns in houses and mosques, lights in public squares and joy all around.

NEWS 2018: RAMADAN TREES, HALAL LIPSTICK AND #THELEASTWECANDO

Lanterns lit in public area at night

In Qatar’s Cultural Village, lanterns in the shape of its dovecotes shine during Ramadan. Photo by Omar Chatriwala, courtesy of Flickr

Ramadan trees: A woman near Detroit wanted to make Ramadan seem more celebratory for her children, reports the Detroit Free Press, so she reshaped a Christmas tree into a crescent, added a hanging star—and today, has a wait-list of customers wanting her “Ramadan trees.” Read the story here.

Popular phrases and etiquette: From Dubai, reports are available for 2018: Popular Arabic phrases, etiquette tips, healthy fasting suggestions and a Ramadan 2018 general guide.

Europe’s Ramadan economy: From Ramadan fashion to a countdown calendar and halal lipstick, the Guardian reports on the retail trends expected across Europe for the Muslim holy month during 2018.

From Qatar, #TheLeastWeCanDo: Upward of 500 food and non-food items have lower prices for Ramadan 2018, in accordance with a price list issued by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC). The initiative is a part of a Ramadan initiative launched by the Ministry under the theme #AqalMinAlWajeb, Arabic of #TheLeastWeCanDo.” (Read the story here.)

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