The holiest month on the Islamic calendar, Ramadan begins this year on Thursday, April 23 and continues for 30 days until Saturday, May 23, 2020.
In the modern, fast-paced world, Ramadan is a time for Muslims to put the breaks on -- and to fully develop a kind regard for others.
That means fasting, introspection, and developing compassion
for those less fortunate ("O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed
to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may acquire
Ramadan is never a set date, but based on sightings of the
moon, as well as other astronomical calculations. In Canada and the United
States, most communities follow the decision of the Islamic
Society of North America for the highly-anticipated start of Ramadan.
While charitable works are encouraged, fasting is the more familiar component of Ramadan. Daily fasting begins at dawn (just before sunrise) or Fajr, and ends at sunset or Maghrib. But not everyone is required to fast during Ramadan. Those exempted include children, pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and those who suffer from ill health.
As the weather heats up, religious leaders and health officials advise properly keeping body-and-soul together by consuming fruits, carbohydrates, and lots of water when breaking fast.
Fasting ends at sunset, when lanterns are lit in a beloved
tradition that is a symbol of Ramadan worldwide.
The End of Ramadan
As you might imagine, the end of Ramadan is a big reason ... to party!
The official end of Ramadan begins with the first sighting of a crescent following a new moon, marking the Festival of Fast-Breaking or Eid-ul-Fitr. In Arabic, Eid means "festival" while Fitr means "to break the fast". But most modern Muslims simple refer to it as the Eid.
With a long month of fasting completed, work is suspended and children are given the day off from school as families come together to worship and mark the end of Ramadan in a new-found appreciation of life's many bounties. Following morning services, people dress in their finest clothes and tables groan with the weight of holiday dishes and delicacies in celebration.
• Ramadan isn't limited to fasting and prayers. Positive actions might include giving money or volunteering for a good cause throughout the month.
• Fasting isn't all bad. In fact, eating less may detox the body, lend you more energy, and make you more alert. Professional athletes even report having more stamina during the month of Ramadan.
• Non-Muslims can wish Muslim friends a happy Ramadan with the traditional saying, "Ramadan Mubarak" or "Have a (happy) blessed Ramadan." To mark Eid, at the end of the month, the saying is "Eid Mubarek."
• The end of fasting may be celebrated worldwide, but on different days. In some countries, Ramadan ends when you can see a new crescent moon with the naked eye. Others use exact astronomical calculations. Different time zones also play a part depending on where Eid is celebrated around the world.
More about Ramadan around the Web:
Just up ahead, discover more about Ramadan traditions and prayers, along with a cache of popular Ramadan recipes.
Also learn more about the sacrifices, strength and joy of Ramadan - a month-long testimony to faith observed by the planet's more than one billion Muslims who each year celebrate Ramadan around the world...