For millions of Muslims around the world, today marks the beginning of a very spiritual month of reflection, fasting, prayer, and brotherhood.
For many non-Muslims, Ramadan may seem mysterious - one may be tempted to immediately compare it to festive Christian holidays like Christmas or Easter. But unlike those very merry holidays, Ramadan is a time of solemn contemplation and self-restraint, meant to detoxify one both physically and spiritually.
This year, Ramadan began on April 13th, marking the second Ramadan during COVID (and hopefully the last). Beyond the basics, why do Muslims celebrate Ramadan, and why does it’s date change every year? And how has the COVID-19 pandemic changed Islam’s holiest month?
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan’s roots lay in how the prophet Muhammad received revelations from the Islamic deity, Allah. Islamic tradition holds that all scripture, including the holy book the Quran, was revealed to the prophet Muhammad during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the date of Ramadan changes each year. As the new moon marks the beginning of each new month, Muslims traditionally mark the beginning of Ramadan with visual observation of the Hilal - the crescent moon.
Thus kicks off 29 or 30 days of fasting, prayer, and charity. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunup to sundown. And it’s not just food and drink they abstain from: sexual relations and improper speech are also included in that, as the fasting is intended to cleanse the soul as well as the body which helps bring followers closer to God. Traditionally, families partake in a pre-dawn meal called Suhoor and an evening meal following dusk called Iftar. The first nibble of food or sip of water during Iftar is often the most anticipated moment of the day, for obvious reasons.
Fasting is also intended to call attention to food-insecure people and the plight of the needy. Indeed, almsgiving is a crucial part of Ramadan as well. Followers of Islam are expected to make an obligatory donation called Zakat as well as a voluntary donation called Sadaqa during the holy month. Together, fasting and almsgiving constitute two of the five pillars of Islam.
During Ramadan, you may hear or see some common greetings, like Ramadan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem. These are comparable to 'Merry Christmas', and mean 'have a blessed Ramadan' and 'have a generous Ramadan' respectively. If you hear those sayings, feel free to return them!
There are also some rules some Middle Eastern bloggers have proposed as simple 'do's' and 'don'ts' during Ramadan, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They suggest keeping your loud music to yourself during the month, as it may be offensive to those celebrating Ramadan. They also say to avoid anything that will make fasting Muslims think of food during the day - that can mean foregoing everything from chewing gum during the day to posting mouth-watering pictures of food to your Instagram (sorry, foodies). They also suggest showing a little patience to any coworkers you have who may be observing. Given that they're fasting throughout the day, they may be feeling a bit more tired and sluggish than usual, so please... try and be understanding.
How Has Ramadan Changed During COVID?
Last year’s Ramadan kicked off in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic’s initial round of lockdowns - including mosques. That meant that for millions of Muslims worldwide, Ramadan hallmarks like communal prayers and meals had to be performed at home.
As the world slowly but surely comes out of the pandemic as vaccine rollouts progress, restrictions are easing up a little. Mosques are reopening the world over, and Muslim clerics and several Muslim-majority nations have said it’s okay to receive the COVID vaccin, and it does not count as breaking the fast. Many mosques are even being used as vaccination sites in local communities.
The restrictions are frustrating for many, as Ramadan is in large part a celebration of community. But many understand that the temporary restrictions are all in the name of the greater good, and keeping family and friends safe. “The month is about community and people coming together so it is going to be difficult,” a university student named Ansa told BBC News. “But as Muslims we need to understand that we are still doing a good thing and we need to keep that in our heads.”
LOL!! Ya'll are tripping if you think these ppl have halted their "holy days" due to the scamdemic...Satistics show most that observe "fasting" and others religious observences actually gain 20 to 30 pounds during the "fast"....it's only sun-up to sun down...guess what they do after dark? Feed their stupid faces and fornicate.....Allah akbar! WHATEVER!!!
I just wanted to correct a couple of things. First, Allāh is not just an Islamic deity. Arabic speaking Jews and Christians pray to the same Allāh. Second, only the Qur’ān was revealed to Prophet MuHammad. The Qur’ān mentions many scriptures that predates it. Other than that, nicely presented article!
God love Muslims and will protect them. Just look at the wealth God has bestowed upon them.
Ummm! All I see is sadness and misery bestowed upon most of the female species in Muslim countries. Many of those in Arabia seem to be doing well though, but of course that’s because of the oil fields they are sat on, which will eventually dry out. It’s basically a geology issue.
In an attempt to justify your statement, perhaps you can somehow demonstrate that any god is real, or even just yours, that would be a good start.
Funny that is what you see it that way. Have you talked to Muslim women in the Middle East? Especially American or European women who converted to the Muslim religion by choice? They feel sad for American/European women who are continually leered at by men. The men in the Muslims countries are much more attentive and take care of the children, more so than in American.
God is only real in one's mind. Since we are all of different minds we all have different beliefs. Classic example of the theory of evolution, religious style.
With recent discoveries of oil and uranium in Muslim countries it's going to be over 150 years before the oil is gone. They are already investing heavily in tourism and international trade. If you want a specific example look at what's going in Qatar. The folks in Qatar have so much money they are have already made large real estate purchases in major cities around the world such as London and Paris.
Either God loves Muslims or they were very lucky to live on oil reserves the rest of the world needs.
“ Either God loves Muslims or they were very lucky to live on oil reserves the rest of the world needs.”
Well, first of all, one has to know if any god is real, and being as there is still no demonstrable evidence to support any claims for the reality of any gods one has to assume there are none, which would then lead us to realize that Muslims had to wait for thousands of years to capitalize on the ingenuity of modern technology to extract oil from the earth. If it hadn’t been for modern technology they would still be living in a dust bowl like they have done for millennia.
Faith without works is dead.
This Ramadan is particularly challenging in that it occurs in a part of the year that has almost maximum length of daylight. The sunrise to sunset fast (abstaining from all food including liquids and even water) is extra long! Someone has remarked that after sunset those observing Ramadan pig out. My daughter is a dietitian at a state facility where some patients are observing Ramadan, and she works with other professional staff to make sure they have adequate nutrition and a reasonably "normal" calorie supply for the 24-hour period, but the period of NO INTAKE is about 14-15 hours. Other patients are having meals, snacks, occasional treats, and those observing Ramadan can smell the food! This Ramadan is a really SLOW FAST!
In America all those rules seem to find them in other parts of the world. Places where there is not fast food places. That everyone close up shop for the day. Only place to find food is at the places that cater to the Infidels. In many places they have but one meal if even that. Eating with the Infidels during a lunch break seems to be popular if you happen to look like them.
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Too bad my staff thinks it's against her religion to get the vaccine I better point this out to her. Thanks for the post...
too bad some people think they can force you to get the shot. There is no federal law requiring you to get the shot nor is there any federal labor regulation demanding you get the shot or be fired and there is no religion that demands this happen either.
I've never had a flu shot iether, but only twice as an adult have I had the flu. And the last time was in January of 2000. I'm not opposed to getting a vaccine for covid-19, but am not in a hurry about it, iether. I wouldn't mind waiting a while longer, and watching to see how severe the side effects are going to get, and how many people are going to get them in the first year or two. This isn't the first time I've made major lifestyle changes, and I've learned a lot about a cepting life on its own terms. However, the main two things I miss the the most are riding my bicycle several miles on the Galveston seawall everyday, while cruising pretty babes in bikinis, and grocery shopping in stores, instead of through my WalMart and Amazon apps, but am learning to adjust. I watch more episodes of both series of Hawaii five-o I've got on DVDs, and press pause more often during beach scenes. It's all look and no touch iether way, so it really doesn't make much difference.
I would worry about my legs getting flabby from lack of activity,but father time has taken care of that by rewarding me with hair loss and peripheral vascular disease, so I won't be wearing shorts anymore anyway, and nobody will ever know the difference.
Happy Ramadan !