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Each year, practicing Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. Islam is the world’s second most widely practiced religion and also one of the fastest growing religions in the world. According to WorldAtlas, Islam has approximately 1.7 billion followers. Muslims consider Muhammad the last Prophet of God, and believers adhere to his teachings by reading the Quran.
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Here are nine things to know about this interesting month on the Muslim calendar.
1. The Muslim calendar year is shorter than the Gregorian calendar year. Therefore, Ramadan will begin 10 to 12 days earlier each year. It falls in every season throughout a 33-year cycle.
2. Individuals fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and remind them of the suffering of the less fortunate.
3. The word “Ramadan” originated from the Arabic root “ramida,” which means severe heat, burnt ground and even shortness of provisions. It has been said that Ramadan was the name given to the month because it burns out the sins with good deeds.
4. The religious impart enthusiasm throughout Ramadan. While fasting is compulsory for adults, many children as young as age 8 readily fast as well.
5. Fasting is not the only sacrifice or form of self-restraint Muslims commit to during Ramadan. They also refrain from drink, sexual activity and all forms of immoral behavior, including impure or unkind thoughts. According to Britannica, false words, bad deeds or bad intentions are as destructive as eating or drinking during daylight hours.
6. Just before sunrise, Muslims eat a pre-dawn meal of power foods called “suhoor.” After sunset, individuals break the fast like Muhammad did nearly 1,400 years ago, with a sip of water and some dates. Then, after sunset prayers, a large feast called “iftar” is shared with family and friends.
7. There are fasting exemptions for children, the elderly, ill people, and women who are pregnant or nursing from fasting.
8. Accommodations may be made in certain predominantly Muslim countries to conceal non-Muslim individuals who are eating during the day from practicing Muslims. Others strictly prohibit public eating during the day – even for non-Muslims. Establishments like bars and nightclubs tend to be closed for the month.
9. At the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, the “Feast of Fast-Breaking,” is celebrated. This celebration is often special and elaborate. Gifts may be exchanged and children may wear new clothes.
Ramadan is a special time on the Muslim calendar that focuses on prayer, reflection and fasting.