Ramadan 101

first_imgDINA SAYEDAHMED To the Editor:Recently, close to 1.6 billion people began celebrating the month of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, trademarked by the sun-up to sun-down fast. In America, Muslims will fast approximately 17 hours. No, we won’t die. And no, we probably won’t lose weight either.But what is Ramadan? What is its purpose and significance, why does its date shift every year, and how can you, as a non-Muslim, be considerate of your Muslim friends who might be observing? Below are a few pointers that can hopefully give you a glimpse into Ramadan and help you understand what the big fuss is.Purposes of Ramadan: Muslims believe that the Holy Qu’ran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad during the month of Ramadan, beginning on the Night of Power. To commemorate this occasion, Muslims engage in 29-30 days of spiritual revival, which includes fasting every day from worldly pleasures (food, water, and sexual intercourse) from dawn to dusk, increased nightly prayer and charity, and intense reading and studying of the Qu’ran.Some Muslims don’t fast: Fasting is only obligatory upon Muslims who have reached puberty and are able-bodied. Muslim women who are pregnant, for example, or Muslims who are chronically ill or require regular doses of medication throughout the day are not required to fast. If your Muslim friends aren’t fasting, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily “breaking rules.” They might just have a valid excuse.Save us a cupcake from the office party: We’re not fasting forever. We can still enjoy your treats after sunset!Ramadan shifts: Last year, Ramadan started and ended a little closer to the spring, and the year before that, closer. Because Muslims follow the lunar calendar, Ramadan shifts a few days every year. Luckily for us, that means that in a few years’ time, Ramadan will shift back to the winter months and we won’t have to fast for 17 hours.It’s not that serious: Well, it is. But there is also plenty of room for celebration. Muslims use the month of Ramadan to gather with friends and family over the breaking of the fast. Common traditions include wide assortments of food and cultural sweet, which is why most of us don’t lose weight.And last, take it easy on us: We’re coffee-deprived.last_img

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