Ramadan Lights
Celebration in the Old city of Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan

Ramadan is the Muslim celebration of Muhammad receiving the Quran. It begins this weekend.

Ramadan is a very important time of the year for those that follow the Islamic faith, and comes from the Arabic root word “ramida,” which means scorching heat. The ninth month within the Islamic calendar, every year it is observed as a month of fasting. It has been this way ever since the Muslim people migrated from Mecca to Medina. It is considered particularly holy because it is the month in which Allah gave the holy Quran to Muhammad (PBUH).

The holiday typically lasts thirty days based on the position of the moon. The start date of Ramadan also fluctuates as it does not operate on the Gregorian calendar. This year, Ramadan will start for most of the world on June 28th. However, because of the moon’s position, it will not start until the 29th in North America.

The fasting done in recognition of Ramadan is not from one particular kind of food, but from all food and drink altogether whilst the sun is up. Many Muslims will rise an hour or two before sunrise, and have a small meal, and then will congregate an hour after the sun has set to share another meal together. During this fast, it is vital for practicing Muslims to be extra careful in eating healthy foods in healthy quantities. Because of the limited intake, experts encourage diets focused on fruits (like dates, bananas, and grapes) vegetables (like cabbage, carrots, and zucchini), unprocessed starches (like black or brown rice), and healthy oils (like olive oil) along with lots of water. Before morning is the Suḥūr where protein foods like fish and chicken are enjoyed.

All Muslims are encouraged to take part in Ramadan: only those that are unwell, breastfeeding, pregnant, or on their monthly cycle are exempt. There are also special rules for those who are travelling in hot weather as they are not to fast, but are expected to make up the days that they ‘lost’ at the end of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a brilliant experience for many Muslim people, as a chance to centre their thoughts on Allah and his scriptures. It is a time for praying, and for fellowship with other Muslim people. In many Muslim countries, this is also a time to be reminded of the suffering of the hungry, and many charitable people take time and effort to reach out to those that are homeless in their cities.

This year during Ramadan, Patheos will be hosting a special Altmuslim blog series called #30Days30Writers with guest bloggers submitting daily posts for reflections on their experiences during the holiday.

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