Ramadan- The ninth month of the Islamic calendar

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and lasts 29 to 30 days. All Muslims participate in this period of fasting which should teach the participants about humility, patience, spirtituality and self-control. It is one of the five pillars of the Islam.

Compared to the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan depends on the moon and move backwards about eleven days every year. For muslims it is the month in which God revealed the first verses of the Quran to Muhammad. Because of that they are fasting in the name of Allah and offer more prayer then usually. In Ramadan the streets are also full of various decorations.

Beginning of Ramadan

The month Ramadan existed in the arabic culture long before the Islam arrived. The word itself means intensive heat or dryness. The Quran says that fasting is obligatory to all muslims. It starts when the new, crescent moon appears in the sky at the end of the month Schaban. In 2011 Ramadan started the 10th of August, in 2011 it is probably going to take place between the 1st and the 29th of August 2011, depending on the sighting of the moon.

Practices during Ramadan

Ramadan is a time dedicated to Allah. Muslims put more effort in following the teachings of Islam. Eating and drinking is not allowed during the day, while sexual intercourse is forbidden during the hole month. Ramadan helps to learn how to resist against all kind of temptations and to practice self-control. Fasting, called sawm in Arabic, is not considered obligatory for the elderly, chronically and mentally ill people, children, pregnant women, women during their period of menstruation and women nursing babys. Those travelling are also exempt but should make up the time they miss.

Muslims should also try to read the hole Quran, slow down from world affairs and concentrate on spiritually cleaning so they can find a link to God. An other way to do this is charity. There are free public eateries organized during Ramadan in every city.

At sunset the fast-breaking meal, called Iftar, takes place. It is common to start it with a date, as Muhammad was believed to have done. After a prayer the Iftar meal starts. Over the time the meal has grown to a banquet festival where many people gather together.

The End of the fasting period

Id ul-Fitr is the holiday when the fasting month Ramadan is over. It is the first day of the next month and begins when a new moon had been sighted. Everyone puts on the best clothes on and food is offered to other people. After a prayer muslims start visiting their friends and celebrate for three days.

Picture: Jasmin Merdan – Fotolia