Ramadan

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The beginning of Ramadan marks the start of the holiest month in Islamic culture, a month-long event observed by Muslims all over the world. The first day of Ramadan, also the beginning of the ninth month of the Islamic or Hijri calendar, is welcomed by the sighting of the new crescent moon. It celebrates the moment when Allah (God) first gave the Prophet Mohammed the verses of the Quran, Islam’s sacred book. This is thought to have occurred during Ramadan, on *Laylat Al-Qadar* (“Night of Power"), which is observed on the 27th day of the month. The phases of the moon govern its commencement and conclusion; thus, they fluctuate from year to year. However, this year it starts on Saturday, April 2nd, and is forecasted to end on Sunday, May 1st.


     Ramadan is a month for Muslims around the world to fast (preform *Sawm*). It is only one of Islam's Five Pillars, or in other words, it is regarded as a core and fundamental belief or practice one must observe (if able). Throughout Ramadan, Muslims fast from dusk to sunset, a time in which they abstain from eating, drinking, and engaging in acts that may be deemed immoral. During this time for reflection and personal growth, Muslims work to reaffirm their faith, develop restraint and patience, and ultimately get closer to God. Moreover, it is also a method in which a person should reflect on their life’s blessing, remembering those who are in need or who suffer from hunger on a regular basis.


     The first meal of the day, known as *suhur*, is eaten before sunrise; followed by morning prayers, the day’s fast commences. After sunset, the fast is traditionally broken by eating dates, but the collective event of breaking the fast is known as *iftar*. Along with the feelings of joy, accomplishment, and perseverance, *iftar* is a dinner that is frequently enjoyed among family and friends. The cuisines and delicacies provided during these meals varies depending on the culture in which Ramadan is observed.


     To develop one’s faith, Ramadan is also a month of prayer. During a time for introspection and growth in one's connection with God, daily prayers are essential. Prayers are preformed five times a day, but during the month of Ramadan, after *iftar*, an extra prayer is frequently offered. *Taraweeh* is a daily congregational prayer that is usually held in mosques, where it includes readings from the Quran, attempting to entirely complete the 114 chapters of the Holy book.


     The end of Ramadan and the start of the tenth month are marked by *Eid al-Fitr*, the start of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar. This festival commemorates the successful completion of Ramadan and its fast. *Salaat al-Eid*, or Eid prayers, are offered at this time to mark Eid and the completion of Ramadan. People gather with their friends and family for meals and celebrations. Treats are exchanged with others, and gifts are frequently given to children. Furthermore, another of the Five Pillars, *Zakat al-Fitr*, is observed during this time. In which Muslims make an obligatory charitable donation as thankfulness and charity are significant aspects of both Ramadan and Eid.