If you’ve lived in or are currently living in a Muslim majority country, then you would probably be familiar with the month of ‘Ramadan’. Ramadan is the Islamic holy month whereupon 1.6 billion Muslims from all over the world will participate in the act of fasting from dawn till dusk for a total of 30 days.
So in the spirit of learning something new, we’ve decided to compile a list of 7 Interesting Facts About Ramadan.
Let’s get started!
Why do Muslims fast?
Okay, let’s start with the basics. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam (which also includes performing prayers and giving to charity). It’s compulsory for Muslims to observe it during the holy month of Ramadan. It’s meant to draw worshippers closer to God through sacrifice, remembrance and heightened spirituality. It’s also meant to be a month of gratitude in which the faithful are reminded of the suffering of those less fortunate.
When is Ramadan?
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Similar to Chinese New Year, there is no fixed date for Ramadan as it is based on the lunar cycles. Ramadan’s date will change by about 11 days per year on the Gregorian Calendar and the fasting month will officially begin when a moon-sighting committee declares the new moon and new month.
For instance, this year Ramadan in Malaysia will begin in the evening of the 5th of May 2019 and will end on the evening of the 3rd of June 2019.
Why don’t Muslims just fast at night?
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Fasting has been prescribed to Muslims in the Quran and it has been explicitly stated that they are to fast from dawn to dusk. Fasting in the day can be challenging but at the same time, it teaches Muslims on how to be steadfast in their faith.
You might wonder how Muslims are able to fast for a full month; but the fact of the matter is, there is no easy solution. The determination and ease to fast for the full 30-days can only be achieved through practice!
Do Muslims really not eat anything from dawn to dusk?
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During Ramadan, not only do Muslims refrain from eating anything from dawn to dusk, but they also don’t drink any water either! In addition to not eating or drinking anything during the day, they also abstain from other things like smoking cigarettes, cursing and being intimate with their partners.
Yet despite the fasting, Ramadan in most Muslim countries is an interesting mix of austerity and celebration. While they abstain from many things during the day, after sunset families and friends often visit with one other, filling the streets of major cities with food and laughter until the wee hours.
Are there any exceptions when it comes to fasting?
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While fasting is one of the pillars of Islam, there are special circumstances that will allow a Muslim person to not fast. Children and those that are ill, elderly or pregnant are exempt from fasting. Instead, they either make up for the missed fasting days at a later time or donate a meal per day that they have missed to those less fortunate.
Children would often partake in mock half-day fasts to join in on the Ramadan festivities!
Can Muslims go swimming during Ramadan?
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A little known fact is that it is actually permissible for a Muslim person to engage in water sports like swimming during Ramadan; so if they’re a lifeguard, an athlete in training or if they just want to cool down, they can actually go swimming to do so.
The reason why you don’t see many Muslim go swimming during Ramadan is that Muslims would rather avoid activities that could involve water from entering their stomachs through various means (like the mouths or nose) as it could accidentally break their fast.
Do Muslims spend the night catching up on all the food they’ve missed?
If you’ve seen the sheer scale of some Ramadan Bazaars or Buffets, you might think that this is true. In actual fact, during the fasting month, Muslims are encouraged to limit their eating not only during the day but at night as well.
Instead of overindulging in food (which defeats the true purpose of fasting), Muslims are actually encouraged to increase their worship, especially throughout the night. If you live in an area that is densely populated with Muslims, you might catch sight of them participating in Taraweeh prayers (a set of voluntary prayers exclusively reserved for Ramadan) at the mosques.
And that concludes our list of 7 Interesting Facts about Ramadan. So just to recap, Ramadan is when Muslims from all over the world will undergo a month-long fast in order to endear themselves to the Creator. It helps instils patience, and allows for them to reflect and be thankful for all the things that they have.
Once the fasting month is over, they celebrate Eid al-Fitr; the festival of “breaking of the fast” whereby families and friends will gather together to eat, drink and just enjoy each other’s company; kind of like the Islamic version of Christmas.
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