Ramadan is here. 10 things to know about the holiest month in Islam

By Amany Mohanna, OMNI News

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. It is the month of fasting and one of the five pillars on which the Muslim faith is based. Muslims believe that during the last 10 days of the month, Allah (Muslims’ way of saying: God) revealed the first verses of the Holy Quran to the Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel on a night called Laylat-al-Qadr (The Night of Power).


During Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset, abstaining from eating, drinking, and engaging in sexual activity. Fasting begins at the call to Fajr (Dawn) prayer and ends at the call to Maghreb (Sunset) prayer. Therefore, the duration of fasting varies from one city to another; for instance, while Muslims in Montreal break their fast at 7 p.m., those in Whitehorse do so at 8 p.m. Fasting in Islam aims to teach believers the virtue of patience and helps them improve their self-discipline, which is known as Jihad al-Nafs (Struggle against oneself’s desires). It teaches Muslims that if they can abstain from eating and drinking, they can certainly refrain from engaging in evil acts and remind them of poor people and those in need in their neighbourhoods and across the globe.


Muslims believe that performing good deeds during this month is rewarded by God 10 times more than at any other time of the year and charity is one of the most important deeds in this month. All Muslims, regardless of their financial situation and social status, would need to pay a set amount of money to the poor before the end of Ramadan. Usually, it is around $10 for each family member, regardless of their age.


Ramadan is one of the months in the Hijri calendar which follows the lunar cycle. This means that the beginning of the month is determined by the sighting of the moon crescent in the sky. Consequently, the month of Shaaban, which precedes Ramadan, can either be 29 or 30 days long, impacting when Ramadan begins. Muslim clerics, such as the Crescent Council of Canada, are responsible for announcing the start of the Holy Month. However, some Muslim countries like Türkiye, follow some scientific calculations to define Ramadan’s beginning. That explains why some Muslims start fasting on different dates. Following the lunar cycle in the Hijri calendar also means that Ramadan shifts approximately 11 days earlier each year. Therefore, if Ramadan occurs in spring this year, it will eventually coincide with the winter season in the years to come.


How do most Muslims break their fast? With dates which are considered a blessed fruit in the Muslim faith. According to the Holy Quran, they were the main food for the Virgin Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus Christ. Additionally, Muslims traditionally break their fast during Ramadan by eating dates in a ritual following the Sunnah (tradition) of Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, if you plan to gift your Muslim friend during Ramadan, I advise you to consider giving them a box of dates; they will greatly appreciate it.


“Suhour” is derived from the Arabic word Sahar, which refers to the time between midnight and dawn. It is a special meal that Muslims have during Ramadan before dawn to sustain them throughout the day while fasting. So, if your Muslim friend mentions enjoying a delicious sandwich at 3 a.m., don’t be surprised by the timing.


During Ramadan, Muslims incur significant expenses purchasing various types of food in large quantities, particularly nuts, dried fruits, and sweets. Muslim mothers and housewives exhibit their creativity by preparing delicious recipes for their families and friends every night. However, these habits have become controversial for some in Muslim societies, as they view them as a form of Israf (wastefulness in excessive consumption), which is prohibited in Islam and may compromise the spirituality of the Holy Month.


Muslims celebrate Ramadan with food, spirituality, and also with decorations like lanterns which some might consider the Muslim equivalent of the Christmas tree. Muslim families traditionally bring small lanterns for their children to play with and display a larger one at home to decorate during the month.


Every night during Ramadan, mosques remain open until dawn, filled with worshipers who perform the voluntary Al-Qiyam prayer. During this prayer, Muslims often recite one chapter of the Holy Quran, aiming to complete the recitation of its thirty chapters by the end of the month.


Canada boasts a large Muslim community consisting of approximately two million people who celebrate Ramadan every year, contributing to the country’s rich diversity. In 2017, Canada Post issued the first stamp commemorating Eid-Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month. Additionally, in 2020, as a gesture of recognition and celebration of the Muslim holy month, the Muslim call to prayer (Athan) was publicly heard from various mosques across Canada for the first time in Canadian history.

Finally, Ramadan, known for its focus on devotion and spirituality, presents a valuable opportunity for Canadians to connect with one another and foster greater engagement in acts of goodness and compassion.

Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan)

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