What is Ramadan, the holy month in Islam in which Muslims practice daytime fasting

The Ramadanwhich in 2024 begins onMarch 11th and ends the April 9thit’s a month of Islamic calendarduring which i Muslims are required to fast, also abstaining from water consumption. Fasting begins at dawn and ends at sunset (the precise time varies depending on the country), when people gather in homes, mosques or on the street to finally be able to drink and eat. Fasting, introduced by Muhammad in the year 624serves to demonstrate self-control, love for Allah and respect for the poor. Ramadan does not coincide with a fixed period of the Gregorian calendar and the date changes every year.

How Ramadan works

Ramadan is the name of a month, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. And the month of fasting and abstinenceindicated in Arabic with the word sawm. Ramadan fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam together with the profession of faith, the alms to be given to the poor, the pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime and the prayer five times a day.

The end of fasting in a mosque

In the month of Ramadan, adult Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk, avoiding ingesting food and drinks (including water). During daylight hours they must also abstain from smoking, sexual relations and, more generally, they must lead a pious life that respects the faith. The precise time when you can start eating again varies from country to country, because it coincides with sunset. I am exempted from fasting children, the sick, pregnant or menstruating women, those traveling and those engaged in war (some of those exempted must make up their fasting days at another time.

The date and duration of Ramadan

The month of Ramadan does not always fall in the same period as the Gregorian calendar and progressively “recedes”.. In 2024 it starts on March 11 and ends on April 9; in 2025 it will go from March 1st to March 29th, in 2026 from February 18th to March 19th. The “slippage” is due to the fact that the Islamic calendar measures the passage of time based on to the phases of the Moon, and not based on the apparent motion of the Sun, like the Gregorian calendar. The year, accordingly, is made up of 354 or 355 days.

Fasting lasts an entire lunar month, that is 29 or 30 daysand ends withId al-Fitrthe celebration of the interruption of sawm, during which the faithful gather to pray and pay homage to the deceased.

What does Ramadan fasting come from?

The precept of sawm it was introduced by Muhammad in 624 AD., just over a year after thehegira, that is, his escape from Mecca to Medina in 622, which represents the “official” birth of Islam. The prophet chose Ramadan as the sacred month because it was the one in which, in the year 610, he received the revelation.

The Jabal-al Nura cave, where according to tradition Muhammad received the first revelation

Probably, fasting was introduced to teach the faithful theself-discipline and love for Allah, as well as to remind the population of conditions of the poor. Muhammad also drew inspiration from traditions of some Arab ethnic groups, who practiced ritual fasting even before the birth of Islam. According to some scholars, the institution of sawm was influenced by Christian precepts: Christianity also includes a period of abstinence and fasting, that of Lent, of which in the 7th century the Syriac Church (close to the Arabian Peninsula) required observance with particular vigor. Muslim scholars, however, reject this theory.

The observance and traditions of Ramadan

There are almost two billion Muslims in the world and most of them respect the obligation of daytime fasting. Ramadan has given rise to numerous traditions which, due to the great ethnic and cultural heterogeneity of the Islamic world, change from country to country. Typically, Muslims eat a meal at dawn, the suḥūrand one at sunset, theiftarwhich involves the consumption of dates because they were the food with which Muhammad broke his fast. One is often added to the two “ritual” meals dinner in the evening hours.

Iftar in Iran (credits sayyed shahab-o- din vajedi)

After sunset, many faithful gather in mosques, houses and cafes and, in some countries, the streets are crowded with stalls selling food. Often, during Ramadan the sleep-wake rhythm becomes impaired and tends to stay awake longer at night.

The observation of Ramadan it is not imposed by lawbut in some countries eating and drinking in public is prohibited.