Happy Eid to all those celebrating around the world!
As we near the end of the holy month of Ramadan, we wanted to take a more in-depth look at what billions of Muslims around the world are celebrating. In our new blog series, Sharing Traditions, Azimo hopes to help everyone learn about different cultures and customs from around the world.
After all the planet we live in is so big and so beautiful, why not try and discover as much as we can?
When is Ramadan?
The religious observance marks the 9th month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar. The dates of this holy period can change, as it starts on the sighting of the last full moon of the year. This year Ramadan began on the evening of 26th May, and will end on 24th June.
It ends with a giant celebration and feast known as Eid ul-Fitr, where everyone gets together to eat and exchanges gifts with friends and family. It lasts for three days, so if you know anyone who is celebrating this weekend, give them a warm “Eid Mubarak”. This phrase is wishing them a blessed Eid.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is observed as the holy month where the prophet Mohammad received the initial revelations, which then became the Quran. Muslims seek purification of the body and soul in order to give thanks to and be closer to God, as well as reaffirming their commitment to those in need.
What are the practices?
During the daylight hours (from sunrise to sunset) of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, sex and other physical needs to practice self-discipline and sacrifice.
Muslims take this holy month to observe strict fasting as well as well as taking the time to purify themselves spiritually and feel closer to God. It is a time of introspection, prayer and reflection, to make peace within your mind and heart. They refrain from eating yes, but also from any evil actions, thoughts or words. In doing so, it helps believers rededicate themselves to the faith and refocus on how they can give charity to mankind.
Why do they fast?
It is one of the five key pillars that define the Islamic faith. The physical effects felt by fasting serve as a reminder of those who suffer all year long. Those without access to basic needs like food, shelter, clothes and clean water. It helps Muslims remember not to be wasteful and give thanks for being able to have these things, and reaffirm their commitment to helping out those in need.
All fit and able adults are expected to participate in the fasting, however children, the sick, the elderly, and pregnant or breastfeeding women are exempt.
What are the Five Pillars of Islam?
These are the fundamental values that shape the lives of Muslims, as these are the practices that help them to satisfy a good and responsible life.
The pillars include fasting (sawm in Arabic), a declaration of your belief (shahada), prayer (salat – done 5 times a day), donating to charity (zakat), and making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The Hajj is extremely important, and is to be made at least once in your lifetime, providing you are physically and financially able.
Learn more – get connected with your community!
Even if you don’t celebrate Ramadan, you can definitely still join others in spirit as they take part of the holy month. Out of respect, you can keep eating, smoking and drinking to a minimum when you’re with your friends or co-workers that are fasting. And you can always ask to join them at iftar, which is the meal at sunset that concludes the day’s fasting. Keep an eye out in your community for any talks and lectures that explain the significance of the month.
What are your plans for Eid al-Fitr this year? Share with us in the comments below!