Everything You Need To Know About Ramadan

illustration of illuminated lamp on Ramadan Kareem (Generous Ramadan) background

Ramadan

is a period of fasting, reflection, and sacrifice observed by Muslims around the world. It takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and this year it begins on June 6, 2016. Ramadan lasts for approximately one month, although exact dates can vary by location. In case you aren’t familiar with this important spiritual time in the Islamic tradition, WU has a breakdown of things you may want to know about Ramadan.

What It Means

The word “Ramadan” comes from the root of the Arabic word for “parched thirst” and “sun-baked ground.” Ramadan is by definition a time of sacrifice, where Muslims fast during the daylight hours all month, abstaining from all food and drink and other such practices. It’s a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on what’s important, and practice self-discipline. Unlike many other holidays, where people indulge, Ramadan is a time to show restraint.

The Symbolism

During the month of Ramadan, as a Muslim person deals with hunger and thirst while fasting, he or she is reminded of the daily suffering of those who are less fortunate, and can further appreciate his or her blessings. Muslims use this time to reflect on their lives and how they can cultivate healthy habits throughout the rest of the year, and do away with any bad habits.

Ramadan is also a time for increased charitable giving and participating in family and community gatherings to strengthen bonds. Aid organizations, charities, and mosques often offer free meals to the public during non-fasting hours.

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How to Practice

During Ramadan, there are many ways Muslims practice the creation of healthy habits. One may start a healthier diet and abstain from activities that are less appropriate. Someone might refrain from using less-pleasing language, and refrain from going anywhere unhealthy. In this way, every part of the body observes the fasting associated with Ramadan.

Since Ramadan is in the summer this year, and many countries have long hours of daylight during the summer months, modifications can be made to fasting hours so that one is not putting themselves in harm’s way.

If you wish to be polite or send good wishes to someone observing Ramadan, feel free to say “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem,” which mean to have a blessed or generous Ramadan.

For Muslims, Ramadan fasting is not solely physical, but involves emotional and spiritual aspects as well. Even if you aren’t observing Ramadan yourself, the month of Ramadan might be a good time to think about those less fortunate and have gratitude for the blessings you have in your life. How are you honoring this time of year?

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