Million of Muslims worldwide observe fasting in the Holy month of Ramadan. The ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar and known for blessings and bounty from the creator, and believers celebrate it like no other month. Its date changes every year on the Gregorian calendar, and Muslims tend to wait for moon sightings to mark the beginning of the holy month. In 2020, Ramadan has begun on 24th April for most of the Muslim majority Nations and is currently going on.
Since lunar months last between 29 to 30 days, it is obligatory on Muslims to fast throughout the 29 or 30 days as part of their religious obligations. Fasting is abstaining from all kinds of food and drinks from sunrise to sunset.
Eid Al Fitr celebrated on 1st of Shawwal marks the end of the Holy Month, which is a celebration to resume usual eating and drinking until next year.
Fasting is the third pillar of Islam. The first one being the testimony of faith (Kalima), second is prayers (Salat), third is fasting (Roza), then charity (Zakat), and performing pilgrimage (Hajj) in the Holy Mecca.
Fasting allows Muslims to get closer to God, repent for their sins, abstain from bad habits, help those in need, and importantly, it enables every individual to feel for the poor. When a person experiences a feeling of hunger, he can better feel for the needy and develops a sense of obligation towards the underprivileged. Fasting reminds Muslims of their dependence on God for sustenance. Muslims consider this month as a blessing and increase their ‘Ibadah” (prayers) to get the full benefit of the month.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened, and the gates of hell are closed, and the devils are chained.”
Apart from abstaining from food and drinks throughout the day, you cannot even take medications or chew gum from sunrise to sunset.
A typical day in Ramadan for Muslims is to get up before the first prayer (before sunrise) and have the first meal of the day (suhoor). This meal consists of eating lots of protein-packed foods and drinking ample amount of water to keep you going for the day. Then after the first prayer, many people go back to sleep.
Muslims are required to continue work and schools while fasting. Businesses run like they would, although, in many Muslim majority countries, eases work hours, and schools also leave children early. For the most part, the Muslims follow a usual routine with prayers, despite them not being able to eat or drink anything.
When there is an evening call to prayer at sunset, the fast is finally broken by a date followed by a light meal or snacks (iftari) followed by the obligatory evening prayer. At the same time, some people also offer Tarawiyah prayers after Isha. After that, Muslims have dinner that is shared by family and friends, or people visit each other to have the meal together. Then, they go off to bed for a few hours of sleep until its time to wake up again for the next suhoor.
So some of you might think, this may be a great way to lose weight- but wait, Ramadan is notorious for weight gain. Since eating before sunrise and having meals late with low activity throughout the day, causes you to gain a few pounds. But if you are careful with calories consumed and focus on taking balanced healthy meals. You may lose some weight too.
Muslims exempted from the fast are either ill or old but all healthy Muslims are required to fast for the whole month.
If you are a non-Muslim and need to know how you can make the month a little easier for your Muslim colleagues, just don’t offer food or any drink or avoid eating in front of them. Sometimes, they might not even have enough hydration left in them to salivate. Also, try to schedule your dinner parties around sunset or after sunset so your Muslim colleagues can attend too.
Altogether, it is a month of blessings for the Muslims and is followed by a three day joyous Eid. On Eid, Muslims come together to thank Allah and celebrate eating and drinking with family and friends.