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What is Ramadan?
For Muslims, Ramadan is a holy month of fasting and prayer. During Ramadan people give up bad habits and try to be model human beings. Many people give money to charity during Ramadan. For many, Ramadan is a chance to think and reflect. It is also a time of prayer and people coming together, especially to share Iftar, the evening meal just after sunset.
Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam – the five essential practices for all Muslims.
When is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the start date is based on the appearance of the crescent moon. As the Islamic calendar is slightly shorter than the Western calendar, Ramadan comes earlier and earlier every year. This means that Muslims experience Ramadan in different seasons during their lives.
Fasting means not eating or drinking anything for a certain period of time. During Ramadan, Muslims fast while it is light outside. That means they don't eat or drink anything from dawn (the moment the sun rises) to sunset. All adult Muslims are expected to fast. However, there are special exceptions for people who are ill, elderly, pregnant or travelling. Young people normally start fasting when they are teenagers. However, as children get older, their families might train them by gradually introducing a little bit of fasting, without expecting them to do the whole thing.
What's a day like during Ramadan?
During Ramadan, Muslims wake up early to eat the first meal of the day before dawn. This meal has to keep people going until sunset, so they try to have nutritious food, including protein and plenty of water. At dawn, it's time for morning prayer.
Muslims don't avoid normal obligations like work and school just because they're fasting. Usually, they just go about their day as normal. Once the sun goes down, families meet to break the day's fast with a meal called an iftar. Dates are a traditional food, accompanied by water or milk. The main meal may include stew, rice, soup, lentils, meat, fish, rice and more, depending on what is popular in the country.
What's the meaning of Ramadan?
Hundreds of millions of Muslims all around the world observe Ramadan. It's a time for spiritual reflection, extra prayer, increased generosity and thinking about other people. Fasting reminds people to be thankful and to think about how fortunate they are. Ramadan is also a time of joy and celebration that people enjoy spending with their loved ones.
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
At the end of Ramadan, there is a festival called Eid al-Fitr (the 'festival of breaking the fast').
The celebrations often include wearing new clothes, visiting family and friends, giving presents and enjoying special meals. Eid al-Fitr is a way for Muslims to give thanks to Allah after reflecting and fasting during Ramadan. To make sure all Muslims can participate in Eid al-Fitr, Muslims pay zakat, which is money given to people in need.
Do you celebrate Ramadan? Tell us about it!