History of Ramadan

History of Ramadan

Elena Keller

In this series we’ve looked into the history of Christmas, Easter, Earth Day, Black History Month and more. Now we’re going to be investigating the origin and history of Ramadan, one of Islam’s most sacred holidays.

According to History.com, Ramadan is a holy month in which Muslims fast, pray, and reflect on their faith. Islamic tradition states that Ramadan was the month in which Muhammed received the revelations for the Qurʾān, Islam’s holy book, from God.

This year’s Ramadan began on April 23 and will end on May 23. During this month, Muslims will fast from dawn to dusk each day, only breaking their fast with pre-dawn meals (known as “suhoor”) and post-dusk meals (known as “iftar”).

According to Britannica Encyclopaedia, Muslims typically celebrate the iftar with friends and extended family. The iftar usually begins with the eating of dates, as Muhammed did, or apricots and water or sweetened milk.

After the iftar, some families partake in special evening prayers, known as tawarīḥ prayers, in congregation or in a mosque. Some families will even read through and recite the entire Qurʾān over the course of the month.

All Muslims who have reached puberty and have good health are required to fast during Ramadan. However, pregnant women, children, the eldery, travelers, and the sick are not required to fast during Ramadan.

If someone who is fasting accidentally eats or drinks at the wrong time, the lost day can be made up with an extra day of fasting. Volunteering or helping those less fortunate can also be used to substitute for a day of fasting if necessary.

The holiday of Ramadan isn’t just about fasting, however, it’s also about upholding the five pillars of the Islamic faith. The five pillars of the Islam are shahada (a declaration of faith), prayer, zakat (charitable giving), fasting, and pilgrimage.

This why Muslims abstain from smoking, sexual activity, and impure or unkind thoughts as well as food and drink. Muslims also practice self-restraint and self-reflection during this time, finding ways to help those who are less fortunate.

Ramadan comes to a close with a major celebration known as Eid al-Fitr, “The Feast of Fast-Breaking.” It begins the day after Ramadan ends and carries on for three days afterwards.

Eid al-Fitr is usually celebrated with special prayers, meals, and the exchanging of gifts among family and friends. In some communities Eid al-Fitr is very elaborate, with children wearing new clothes, women dressed in white, and special pastries.

Ramadan isn’t some trendy diet, like one girl on Twitter tweeted, it’s a sacred religious holiday among Muslims that should be taken seriously during this month.