Today marks the start of Ramadan 2021, the Islamic holy month during which millions of Muslims fast during the hours of daylight.
Why do Muslims observe fasting?
Ramadan is a month of spiritual cleansing and purification for Muslims. Fasting is intended to bring the faithful person closer to Allah (God) and to remind the individual of the plight of those who are less fortunate. It is also recommended that those who are financially fortunate make contributions to charities that assist the poor.
Fasting is considered to be an exercise in self-restraint; a fasting person will physically and spiritually detoxify by abstaining from food and drink (yes, including water!) from dusk until dawn, as well as kicking habits such as smoking.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and performing the Hajj Pilgrimage to Makkah.
What are the customs of Ramadan?
The beginning of Ramadan is traditionally met with greetings such as “Ramadan Mubarak!”. Muslims will try to increase their worship, good deeds, and acts of charity. Another distinctive feature is the “Taraweeh” nightly prayer at the mosque (Muslim males mainly attend).
How is the end of Ramadan commemorated?
Observers hope to have their prayers answered during “Laylat al-Qadr,” or “the Night of Destiny,” which occurs at the end of Ramadan. Muslims believe that Allah sent the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) on this night, which falls during the last 10 nights of Ramadan, and revealed the first verse of the Quran.
During those final days, some devout Muslims go into seclusion, spending all their time in the mosque to reconnect with Allah.
The end of Ramadan is marked by the Eid al-Fitr holiday. Muslims meet early in the morning for prayers, and families often gather and eat during the day. New clothes, presents, and money are often given to children.
We wish all those embarking on the month ahead four weeks of blessings, 30 days of clemency and 720 hours of enlightenment. Ramadan Kareem!