Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar and is celebrated by more than one billion people worldwide. Most of those billion people will observe the date in the same way, while the holiday also takes personal significance.
What does Ramadan mean?
Ramadan is the ninth of twelve months on the Islamic calendar, which operates on the lunar cycle.
Roughly translated, Ramadan means “burning/scorching heat”, as it falls during the hottest time of the year in the middle-east.
Aside from its literal translation, the holiday takes on personal meanings for most Muslims and their families, but they share the same traditions.
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Ramadan commemorates when Allah revealed the Koran – the holy book of Islam – to the Prophet Mohammed.
As such, it is the most sacred month in the year, beginning the morning after a crescent moon is sighted, this year on April 23.
Once Ramadan begins, Muslims observe a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, which also include the profession of faith, prayer, alms and pilgrimage to Mecca.
Those who fast during Ramadan may only eat before sunrise or after sunset.
They must also abstain from sex, smoking and drinking amongst other “sins” during the month.
Their abstinence reflects as a means of surrender and allows them to attain a deeper spiritual connection by refraining from earthly pleasures.
The focus remains on the Koran, however, which dictates morality in Islam, outlining the criteria for right and wrong.
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During the fasting period, the gates of heaven open, and good deeds carry more favour.
The shared experience still carries a personal tone for most Muslims, however.
Speaking to Oregon live last year, Imam Mikal Shabazz explained Ramadan is a time for “month-long discourse” between practitioner and creator.
He said: “This time is when the Koran takes precedence over all other activities.”
“It is a time for a practitioner to focus as much as possible through word and deed on the communications between creator and creation.
“It’s a time to be patient and yielding.
“It’s an opportunity to have a month-long discourse with the creator.
“It’s very, very personal.”
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