Jeddah: Ramadan, the holy month of blessing, mercy, and forgiveness, will start at the end of May this year, marking a period of fasting and spirituality for millions of Muslims across the globe.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and marks the month that the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on a lunar calendar where each month begins at the start of a new moon. As lunar months are shorter than solar months, it means the Islamic calendar does not correspond with the Gregorian calendar. It means Ramadan occurs around 11 days earlier each year.
The first ten days of the month of Ramadan are known as days of mercy from Allah. The next ten days are days of forgiveness and the last ten days freedom from Hell Fire.
The month of Ramadan serves as a reminder to the faithful that it is important to set aside special time to reflect and share, a time for atonement and forgiveness that contributes to greater inner and outer harmony among individuals and communities
For many Muslims it means a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset, forgoing food and water, smoking and sexual activity during daylight. When fasting, Muslims will have one meal before sunrise, called suhoor, and share another meal with friends and family after sunset, called Iftar.
Ramadan is a holy month where many Muslims will focus on prayer and reading the Qur’an, while generosity and giving to good causes or neighbors is encouraged. It is a period of reflection, patience, self-restraint and generosity that is intended to bring Muslims closer to Allah.
Fasting during Ramadan is required for all Muslims from when they reach puberty, generally between the ages of 12 and 14, though some families start their children fasting at the age of 10. Those exempt from fasting are those who are too ill to fast, the elderly, those suffering from a mental illness, those who are traveling, and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating. People who would normally be able to fast but have been unable due to traveling long distances or being ill are required to complete their fast at a later date.
Eid al-Fitr is the ‘festival of the breaking of the fast’ and marks the end of Ramadan each year. Muslims wish each other a happy Eid during the celebrations by saying “Eid Mubarak,” and often gather with family and friends to eat and pray together. The festival can last for up to three days and also sees people give money to charity as part of celebrations.
It is noteworthy that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2016 had conducted for the third year in a row its humanitarian campaign in the Central African Republic during the last week of the holy month of Ramadan in cooperation with the Doha-based OIC Humanitarian Funds.
The Ramadan campaign reached 50,000 people in the capital Bangui and its surrounding districts and also in the provincial town of Bambari where food and nonfood items were distributed to those in need and the most vulnerable people in the area.