The holy month of Ramadan begins next Wednesday

The holy month of Ramadan starts on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 until Friday, August 09, 2013.

The holy month of Ramadan holds special significance for Muslims as it is believed to be the time when the Quran (the holy book) was first revealed to the prophet Mohammed. Ramadan is a very special time of worship which includes Quran reading, charitable acts, purification and individual reflection on one’s faith.

The Islamic faith is based on the lunar calendar which is slightly shorter than the solar calendar. This means the dates of Ramadan will vary from year to year, though always occurring in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.

Between sunrise and sunset for one lunar month Muslims must abstain from their physical wants and desires in the form of a fast, or a ‘sawm’ in Arabic. Such indulgences include eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum.

At sunset, Muslims go home to be with their families. They may have sacrificed all day, but at night they break the fast and celebrate with a feast called ‘iftar’ (breakfast). They eat a second large meal at midnight and before sunrise families get up early for the final meal before the fasting begins, called ‘suhoor’. At dawn the fasting starts all over again. Ramadan ends with the festival of Aid Al-Fitr. Literally the “festival of breaking the fast”, Aid Al-Fitr is one of the most important Islamic celebrations and during this time people dress in their finest clothes,
adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give treats to children and enjoy visits with friends and family.

Ramadan is intended to serve as a spiritual guide for Muslims.

During the month they must learn self-control by not indulging their physical desires for food, drink etc during the day. This allows believers to open their hearts and souls to spiritual fulfilment and reminds them of their spiritual duties, as Ramadan is one of the five key pillars of Islam.

Prayer (Salat)
Testimony of Faith (Kalima)
Fasting (Sawm)
Almsgiving (Zakat)
Pilgrimage (Hajj)

The global practice of the fast during Ramadan creates a great sense of unity among Muslims around the world and between neighbouring Muslims of all classes.

If you are visiting an Islamic country during Ramadan, you should avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public if possible and be aware of additional rules that may apply during this period. Non-Muslims are not under the same obligation to fast but your awareness will be appreciated. As this is a holy month for Muslims, you should also be particularly mindful of behaviour or dress that may cause offence. This said, it can be a fun and interested time to travel particularly in the evenings when the streets come alive with people breaking the fast.

For further advice about travel during Ramadan or to any of the destinations where Ramadan is observed, please contact us on 01285 651 010.