The time of the year when Muslims around the world observe fasting for an entire month has dawned upon us, and we thought it would be great to give a few facts about the holy month of Ramadan.

muslims-gather-after-having-their-iftar-breaking-fast-meal-jama-masjid-grand-mosque-oldCredit: ibtimes

1. It’s more than just refraining from food and drink

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Although one of the main conditions for fasting is to refrain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset (which isn’t all that bad, really!), Muslims should also refrain from engaging in bad habits like gossiping, swearing, lying, arguing, etc. Apologies in advance if we keep our distance due to crankiness from a lack of our daily dose of morning coffee 😝  We’ll be just as energetic as usual once we’ve gotten into the groove of fasting and performing extra acts of worship during the coming weeks!

2. …but you can eat in front of us!

It’s nice that our friends who aren’t fasting try to hide their lunches away from us, but really it’s perfectly fine for us to look at food.

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Sure, we might be a little hungry but don’t worry, we’re already thinking of what to get from the Ramadan bazaar or what to eat for iftar already (or searching the web for recipes of what to make…). But in all seriousness, we really appreciate it when you join us for iftar (breaking of the fast) instead 😄

3. A typical day in Ramadan goes something like this..

We wake up way before the crack of dawn to prepare and eat the first meal of the day, called sahur or suhoor (depending where you’re from), and this meal that we gobble down groggily has to last all the way to sunset!

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We then perform the Fajr (dawn) prayer…and go back to sleep! Or get ready for the day and do other acts of worship, whichever works for you 😜  Then we go on with life as per normal – school, work, or bum around – and not forgetting to perform our daily prayers of course, and finally break our fast with a light meal before performing the evening prayer. Many also go to the mosque to perform terawih prayers, which is only done during the month of Ramadan.

[You can definitely stay productive during Ramadan with these simple tips]

4. The dates of Ramadan changes each year!

Phases-of-the-moon

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Much like the Chinese lunar calendar and the shifting dates of Chinese New Year, Muslims also follow the cycle of the lunar calendar, which doesn’t match with the usual solar calendar most of us are accustomed to. Therefore, the dates of Ramadan, which is the 9th month on the Islamic calendar, changes by approximately 10-11 days each year, and is confirmed once the new moon is sighted after the month of Shaaban.

5. Ramadan is also known as the month of the Quran

This is because the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the occasion known as Laylat al-Qadr, or also known as “the Night of Power”.

“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”  Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah 2:185

It is a month where we should reconnect with the Quran, reflect on its meaning and strive to implement its wisdoms. When reading the Quran, we’re also making lots of dua, and how wonderful it is that the supplication of someone who is fasting is not rejected 😊

6. Yep, not everyone needs to fast, so don’t be surprised if you see some people eating!

marshmallow-thiefCredit: memeyourfriends

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, have a serious illness, are a traveller (bonus for those who are travelling during the fasting month!), or if your health will be at risk if you’re fasting, you do get concessions to not fast. Young children who have not gone through puberty are also not required to fast 😁

6. There are also plenty of benefits of fasting for your health

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Besides being able to reboot yourself spiritually, there are also plenty of benefits of fasting during the month of Ramadan. Not only will you get to shed some weight (if you don’t go too crazy indulging yourself with fried food and sweet drinks during iftar that is!), our bodies will also experience higher levels of endorphins after a few days of adjusting into its new pattern of food intake. This means that we’ll actually be more alert, happier and feel better overall! It’s also the best time to ditch bad habits like smoking 😉

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Oh, and those dates you usually break your fast with? Amongst other benefits that dates have, it also decreases the feeling of hunger you have after a long day of fasting, so you won’t rush into digging in to that pile of food which might cause you indigestion!

7. Ramadan is also a month to celebrate with family and friends 🎉

Although it might sound strange that so many people look forward to a month where they have to refrain from so many things, the entire month is actually quite festive as people gather with their families and friends to break their fasts with feasts that aren’t usually served on normal months (although do remember that moderation is key!), and congregate at neighbourhood mosques to perform prayers together.

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Waiting to break fast outside Hagia Sophie in Istanbul, Turkey

Credit: memnativ on Flickr

It’s also wonderful to know that you’re not alone in facing the struggles of self-betterment! Millions of Muslims around the world are doing it too, and that feeling of connectedness is truly something special 😊  We’re all one ummah and fulfilling our responsibilities individually and collectively is what Ramadan is all about!

8. Ramadan looks different in different parts of the world

Not only do fasting times differ depending on where you are on the globe (Muslims in Denmark fast for a whopping 21 hours, Malaysians and Singaporeans fast for around 14 hours while those in Argentina will only fast for around 9 hours), traditions and cultures that celebrate Ramadan are different too.

Chinese Muslims of the Hui ethnic minority pray over food before breaking their fast.
Chinese Muslims of the Hui ethnic minority pray over food before breaking their fast.

Credit: theguardian

In Malaysia and Singapore we look forward to our Ramadan bazaars stocked with traditional treats like ayam percik and tepung pelita, while those in India and Pakistan enjoy their beloved super sweet rooh afza and Palestinians prepare trays of baklava.

[Check out these classic Malaysian delicacies at the Ramadan bazaar if you’re in Malaysia!]

9. We get to end the month in an even bigger celebration

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After a long month of fasting, we get to reward ourselves with mouthwatering food and new clothes! Muslims should dress for Eid in their best clothes, and visit relative and friends looking their finest, to celebrate the joy and happiness of completing a whole month of fasting during Ramadan.

10. It isn’t easy, but it definitely is rewarding

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For 30 days, we stop fully relying on food, drink and other distractions from our lives. It really feels refreshing to reset your body and mind to build constructive habits, to spend more time reflecting on our lives and those who are less fortunate than us, and to increase in giving and charitable acts.

Ramadan truly teaches us lessons in humility, forgiveness, and selflessness, while strengthening our faith and dependance towards Allah. Have a blessed month from us at HHWT! ❤️

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