Asalaamu’alaykum all (Peace be upon you)!
As some of you may know we are coming up on the month of Ramadan. Every year, Muslims observe daily fasts during this sacred month in Islam. Fasting in Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and it is compulsory for all Muslims, who must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, engaging in sexual relations, and taking oral medications.
For Muslims, the goal is to improve the spiritual and physical state and to fortify their relationship with Allah (God). Fasting also has health benefits because it helps with issues of higher cholesterol, heart disease and obesity. However, in Ramadan, it involves a change in the sleep cycle.
Are there any exceptions to fasting?
Yes, there are! The elderly, young children, pregnant/menstruating women, breastfeeding mothers, travellers and lastly, those who are mentally/physically incapable of fasting are exempt.
When does Ramadan fasting start? What do Muslims do?
This year Ramadan will start on either April 12th or 13th because the Muslim calendar is linked to the Lunar calendar. This is why Ramadan starts earlier every year, shifting back by 10/11 days. A day in Ramadan is as follows:
03:00 ‘Sehri’ – the time for waking yourself and the family up to prepare and eat food.
04:25 ‘Fajr’ – the time for eating ends and fasting starts. The first prayer of the day follows.
20:04 ‘Sunset’ – the time to end the fast is called ‘Iftar’. The fourth prayer of the day follows.
21:31 Night prayer – the time for the fifth prayer of the day and the nightly Ramadan prayer (Taraweeh).
What can I do to help those who are fasting?
The best thing you can do to support those who are fasting is to be aware and understanding.
- Be aware of the fact Muslim colleagues or friends will be fasting, their sleep cycles will change, and they will fast longer hours as the month progresses.
- Be aware that some Muslims may not fast due to personal or health reasons.
- Be aware that Muslims will likely take days off towards the end of Ramadan to prepare for Eid (May 12th/13th).
- Try to avoid offensive/harsh language (Ramadan observance is also about inner spiritual cleansing).
Welcome greetings during Ramadan (equivalent to holiday greetings):
Ramadan Mubarak – ‘Blessed Ramadan’
Eid Mubarak – ‘Blessed Eid’
Where can I learn more?