Muslims to observe Ramadan Starting 17 May and ending 17 June
Mangaluru: A huge sea of Muslims had gathered at the Idgah Mosque, on Light House Road-Mangaluru last night, Wednesday 16 May, as part of the commencement of nearly a month-long Ramadan. Ramadan is observed by Muslims around the world as a month of fasting to commemorate “the best of times”. It celebrates the first time the Koran was revealed to Muhammad, according to Islamic belief – but what else do we know about the festival?
This year, Ramadan in 2018 was expected to begin on the evening of Tuesday, May 15, and end on the evening of Thursday, June 14. However, the beginning and end are determined by the lunar Islamic calendar – and as the new moon was not sighted in Saudi Arabia on May 15, the start was postponed for another day. This means that the holy month officially began on the evening of Wednesday, May 16. Hilal, the crescent, is usually a day or more after the astronomical new moon.
The “night of power” or “night of decree” is considered the holiest night of the year, as Muslims believe the first revelation of the Koran was sent down to Muhammad on this night. It’s thought to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan – the 21, 23, 25, 27 or 29th. The holiday of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. A common greeting is Ramadan Mubarak, which means “have a blessed Ramadan”.
What happens during Ramadan? The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness. Fasting is obligatory for adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, travelling, are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, chronically ill or menstruating. The fast is from dawn to sunset, with a pre-dawn meal known as suhur and sunset meal called iftar. Muslims engage in increased prayer and charity during Ramadan.
Ramadan is also a month where Muslims try to practice increased self-discipline. As well as fasting – abstaining from eating and drinking during daylight hours – Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Koran throughout the month, before the holy festival of Eid al-Fitr. People do not eat or drink during daylight hours as they observe Ramadan. Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan? Ramadan is seen as a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and this includes fasting – which teaches people how to be more self-disciplined and have empathy for those less fortunate.
The pre-dawn meal before the fast is called the suhur, while the meal at sunset that breaks the fast is the iftar. The act of fasting is said to cleanse the soul by freeing it from worldly activities, in addition to the abolition of past sins. The eating of dates usually breaks the fast at sundown. After that, the usual practice is to adjourn for prayer and then the main meal is served.