Ramadan & Eid-Al Fitr
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan, in Islam, is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting. It begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon. Because the Muslim calendar year is shorter than the Gregorian calendar year, Ramadan begins 10–12 days earlier each year, allowing it to fall in every season throughout a 33-year cycle.
What do Muslims do during Ramadan?
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. At sunset, Muslims break their fast with a date and milk or water. The meal that Muslims eat after breaking their fast is called iftar. The types of food that Muslims might eat depend on culture and traditions. Muslims also socialize, visit family and friends, and increase acts of worship, including prayer or reciting the Qur’an in its entirety, over the course of the month.
Why is Ramadan important to Muslims?
During this blessed month of fasting, it is a time for worship, and Muslims fast not only to remind themselves of those who are less fortunate than them but to also get closer to Allah(subhanahu wa ta’ala|SWT) through acts of remembrance by His guidance. It is a time when Muslims seek forgiveness in the hope of rewards of Heaven from the mercy of Allah (SWT). Other than fasting with no food or water throughout the day from sunrise until sunset for the entire month, they offer to do more good deeds through night prayers on top of the obligatory 5 Salat (prayers), reading and reciting the Quran from beginning to end, giving more in the way of charity to the poor and needy, offering iftar meals to neighbors and attending the Masjid (Mosque) every night for Taraweeh prayers. Ramadan is the month when the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him|PBUH). Muslims are also encouraged to read the Quran more often with sincerity.
How do Muslims know it is the last day of Ramadan?
The end of the month is determined by establishing that the new moon crescent is visible on the twenty-ninth of Ramadan after sunset. If it is then, Ramaḍān will consist of only twenty-nine days, and the following day is the month of Shawwāl, which is Eid Al Fitr. However, if it is not visible, it means that the month of Ramaḍān consists of thirty days, and the month of Shawwāl will begin the following day. The Prophet(PBUH) instructed his Companions to follow this method when he said: “Start fasting when you see it [i.e. the crescent] and stop fasting [i.e. Ramaḍān is over] when you see it. If the sky is cloudy [and you can’t see the crescent on the 29th], then consider Shaʿbān as thirty days.” It should be clear from this that months in the Islamic calendar were not known in advance whether they would consist of twenty-nine or thirty days.
The End of Ramadan
Eid al-Fitr is the first of two Islamic holidays. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, and is celebrated during the first three days of Shawwāl, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar (though the Muslim use of a lunar calendar means that it may fall in any season of the year). As in Islam’s other holy festival, Eid al-Adha, it is distinguished by the performance of communal prayer (ṣalāt) at daybreak on its first day. Eid al-Fitr is a time of official receptions and private visits. When friends and family greet one another, presents are given, and new clothes are worn. Celebrations vary depending on culture, traditions, and background.