You may be aware that the Islamic holy month of Ramadan has started as Muslims reflect on their faith and practice traditions such as fasting and extra prayers in the run-up to what is called Eid-ul-Fitr, the celebration at the end of the lunar month.
So, what does this mean for British Muslims who are observing Ramadan? In all honesty, nothing much actually changes in wider society, but you will of course do well to remain respectful to those observing Ramadan, as well as those who do not.
When Does Ramadan Start?
Ramadan began on the evening of 16th May 2018, as Islamic days run from sunset to sunset, with the first day of fasting the following day. As this period falls in the month prior to the longest day of the year, Muslims will be embarking upon a fasting period of up to 19 hours.
As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates of Ramadan rotate by approximately 11 days each year. Muslims can make use of a Ramadan timetable to ensure that they follow the Holy month correctly.
Not All Muslims May Be Fasting
Whilst the large majority of Muslims will be observing the traditional fast this Ramadan, there are some that will not be fasting during this period. Whether this is because they choose not to fast through their own beliefs, or for other health-related reasons, this is something that is personal to them.
For example, it could be considered rude to ask because the reason a Muslim may not be fasting could be due to personal matters. Whether or not someone wishes to disclose their reasons for not fasting is completely down to that person and that person only.
While Muslims follow the traditions of their religion, this does not mean that their working life comes to a halt. Fasting Muslims continue to go to work as normal, although understanding on the part of the employer and colleagues is always appreciated.
Simply act as normal around any Muslim colleagues you might have at your workplace. Not only will this be welcomed, but this also acts as the best type of support that you can show to anyone you know that is fasting.
When Do Muslims Break their Fast?
Muslims break their fast at sunset – also known as iftar (the evening meal), and the fast is usually broken with dates and milk. It is only a matter of hours after this that Muslim families gather for suhoor (the morning meal), before sunrise. This year, suhoor will take place as early as 2:39am towards the end of Ramadan.
Other Ramadan Traditions
Other traditions observed during the holy month of Ramadan include extra prayers and reciting the Holy Qur’an throughout the month, eventually leading to having recited its content in its entirety. These traditions are in place to help followers reflect on their faith and be thankful for what they have in life.
Making up one of the obligatory Five Pillars of Islam is zakat (charity), which forms one of the key motives of Ramadan. Many Muslims choose Ramadan as the opportune time to donate their zakat, which is a percentage of their annual profitable wealth – although this can be paid at any point in the calendar year – should it become due around the time of Ramadan, the blessings and reward for giving during this auspicious month are immense.
Ramadan is an important time of the year in the Islamic calendar and, if you wish to greet any of your Muslim friends or colleagues during this time, you can do so by saying ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ or ‘Ramadan Kareem’ – which translates to ‘have a blessed Ramadan’.
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