Ramadan Dates: August 11 to September 10
Ramadan is an Islamic religious observance in many parts of the world.
Ramadan is an Islamic observance during the whole of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting. Ramadan is also known as Ramzan.
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is known as Ramadan from the Arabic root ar-ramad denoting intense heat. Fasting, prayers, charity, and self-accountability are expected to be followed during this time. The whole month is fully dedicated for associated religious observances. During Ramadan no food or drink of any sort is consumed after true dawn until sunset.
History of Ramadan
Ancient Islamic texts state the Ramadan originated with the great Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s founder. Muhammad grew up as a merchant and shepherd, but he became dissatisfied with life in Mecca and, being an idealist, set off to meditate and reflect on his situation. One evening in the year AD 610, Muhammad had a vision of an angel, Jibril, who claimed that Muhammad was the messenger of Allah. The visits by Jibril continued for many years, each one teaching Muhammad more of the holy knowledge of Allah in verses.
Respecting Allah and wanting to show gratitude to Allah, Muhammad requested that his followers spend a month in fasting and prayers during a time period to be called Ramadan. Within the month of Ramadan, the special night called the Laylat al-Qadr (also known as the Night of Power) was to be celebrated as the night Muhammad was reported to have first seen visions of Jibril.
Ramadan Traditions, Customs and Activities
During Ramadan strict rules have to be adhered to by the Muslims while fasting, praying, and reading the Qu’ran including the last day of the fasting month, Eid al-Fitr. All Muslims rise early before dawn and eat Sahur (pre-dawn meal). The call for the Morning Prayer is the sign that fasting must begin until the call for the fourth prayer, Maghrib, is made. Eating and drinking is again allowed after sunset.
Apart from fasting, the Muslims are encouraged to read or recite the Qu’ran during Ramadan. Special prayer sessions and Qu’ran-reciting sessions known as Tarawih are conducted every night in the mosques. They read a section of the Qu’ran everyday and eventually finish reading it by the 30th day.
Ramadan also concentrates on building the self-acceptability of every Muslim. By conducting prayers and meditations in the mosques, the Muslims are made to create a bond between them and Allah. They are encouraged to do good deeds like helping the poor and the needy by giving them food, care, and love. Muslims often relish buying gifts for their family and friends.
On Eid al-Fitr, food is donated to the poor. This is known as the Zakat ul-Fitr. Also on this day, every Muslim wears clean new clothes and assembles in the mosques for a special communal prayer followed by a grand feast.
Below are a few local customs associated with Ramadan.
Ramadan Traditions in Brunei Darussalam
Brunei Darussalam is one of the few Islamic countries where non-Muslims aren’t dealt hefty fines or imprisonment for not publicly observing fasting rules during daylight. Despite the lack of restrictions, most non-Muslims respect the Islamic customs and refrain from eating or smoking in public during the days of Ramadan.
A custom growing in popularity is for commercial food stalls to be set up all around the country. Local food is abundant, but increasingly seen are Western and regional food for people to enjoy after the daily fast is broken.
Ramadan Traditions in the Comoros
According to locals, social life on the islands of Comoros becomes much more vibrant during Ramadan. The public places called bangwé are popular for people to gather shortly after the fasting is broken, afterwards heading to mosques for coffee and dates.
For the Iftar, common dishes include fried banana, grilled manioc, fish, and a special thyme and butter pancake called couscouma.
Ramadan Traditions in the Maldives
The island nation of the Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean, celebrates Ramadan with it’s own local flair. During the Iftar, numerous local dishes like gulha (fishballs), kulhi boakibaa (fishcake), and foniboakiba (a flour cake) are prepared. A typical Ramadan beverage is the sweet, milky kiru sarbat.
Poets in the Maldives may also be asked to recite Ramadan-related Raivaru, an ancient form of poetry with three or more lines and a distinct rhythm pattern.
Ramadan Traditions in Tajikistan
Tajikistan’s Shuroi Ulamo (Council of Religious Scholars) typically calls upon all Tajik Muslims to donate goods to the poor and lower shop prices on essential goods. Mosques are cleaned and redecorated with magnificent Islamic artwork and “Happy Ramadan” posters. And while the mosques provide Iftar, it is typical Tajikistani tradition for the master of the house to invite friends and relatives to his house to partake in Iftar.