What is Ramadan?
For Muslims, the monthlong celebration commemorates Allah, the Arabic name for God, giving the first verses of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, to the Prophet Muhammad in the year 610 A.D.
For 30 days, Muslims around the world do not eat from dawn to dusk, pray intensely and gather for nightly feasts to break the fast.
Observing Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the five duties that are obligatory for every Muslim.
The date of Ramadan varies each year and is determined by the cycles of the moon. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, and it officially begins the morning after the crescent moon is visible to the naked eye.
But since the moon’s visibility in different parts of the world varies based on weather and geography, in many areas, Ramadan does not officially start until religious leaders declare they’ve seen the crescent moon.
Do you say ‘Happy Ramadan?’
Yes, a non-Muslim may wish someone a “Happy Ramadan.” But Muslims typically don’t say that to each other. The Arabic greeting is “Ramadan Mubarak,” which means “Happy Ramadan,” or “Have a blessed Ramadan.” Another is “Ramadan Kareem,” which means “Have a generous Ramadan.”
What can Muslims eat or drink?
Nothing during daylight hours. According to the Islamic Association of Raleigh, taking one sip of water invalidates the day’s fast, which must then be made up at a later date. However, eating or drinking because of forgetfulness or coercion are exceptions, and the person’s fast remains valid.
Muslims can shower, apply eye drops, take injections or brush their teeth during daylight hours as long as nothing is swallowed.
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
The month concludes with a three-day celebration known as Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. Gifts are exchanged, and children often receive cash and new clothing. One Muslim writer likens it to “the Muslim version of Christmas.”