Though we live in a multi-cultural society, there are many people out there who are fascinated by Muslims and their practises. You cringe at the thought of us washing our feet whilst we do ablution (to purify ourselves before praying) and are astonished when you hear that we fast for a whole month.
Probably because many of you think that we go a whole month without any food or drink. That’s not the case. I don’t even think that’s physically possible.
I’ve also had this question put to me: do you eat when no-ones looking?
Well. I think it’s about time that I enlightened you all about Ramadan, the practises and why we do it.
They last from dawn to dusk, every day for a month. We wake up just before sunrise to eat and drink – this meal is called Sehri. We break our fast at sunset and this meal is called Iftar.
Ramadan is actually a month of the calendar just like January and February is for you. Muslims have their own lunar calendar which is a bit different to the solar one that is used around the world. That is why the month Ramadan doesn’t fall on the same date every year.
What we can’t do:
Who has to fast and who doesn’t:
Every Muslim man and woman has to fast when they become adults. However, there are some circumstances where you can not fast/break your fast and keep them at a later date (not in Ramadan) when you are able to do so.
These include women on their period, pregnant women who think that they are unable to fast (e.g. in the later months of pregnancy), older people, the mentally/physically ill, insane people and if you’re on a journey.
Why we do it:
First and foremost, we do it because Allah commanded us to. In the Quran He says:
“Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.” (2:185)
So anyone who eats when no-one is looking: they may as well not fast. This month is set aside to please God and what you do is between you and Him. We don’t fast for people.
Ramadan is a month set aside for training – to remind us that this world isn’t everything. We get so engrossed in materialistic things throughout the year that this month comes as a reminder. It also teaches us to be good people – to love, to give charity and to remind us to think twice before we start a stupid argument with someone or swear just for the fun of it.
Not eating for a whole day also reminds us that there are people around the world who have to live this way – who do not have a meal to look forward to every day at sunset. In this way, hopefully, we can give more to charity when we realise how hard it is to go without food for so many hours.
After 29 to 30 days of fasting we have a celebration day which many of you have probably heard of: Eid. Allah has given us this day to relax and have fun with our family after we put ourselves through so much effort for Him.
Read my post: A Guide to Eid to find out more about this celebration!