Ramadan is one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar, with millions of Muslims fasting to observe a period of reflection. Ramadan itself changes each year as the Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, so it is pushed back by 11 days each year.
When is Ramadan? How long does Ramadan last?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which commemorates the first revelation of the Qu’ran to Prophet Muhammad.
This year, Ramadan is expected to begin in the evening of Thursday, April 23 and end on Saturday, May 23.
The exact date depends on the sightings of the crescent moon.
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Ramadan 2020: When is Ramadan this year? How long does this last?
The Fourth Pillar of Islam is Sawm, or fasting, and fasting takes place during the month of Ramadan, which is a holy month in the Islamic calendar (lunar calendar).
Lasting dawn to sunset for a period of 29 to 30 days, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking, as well as not smoking or having sex during sunlight hours.
You can, however, be exempt from fasting, should you be chronically ill, travelling, elderly, breastfeeding, pregnant, diabetic or menstruating.
The fast is broken by meals named Suhur and Iftar. Suhur before the sun comes up, and Iftar after it has set.
Ramadan 2020: Good deeds are also a big part of Ramadan, with more prayers, charity work etc
Sunrise can be as early as 4:40am in the later stages of Ramadan, with the Suhur meal happening around 2:30am.
The Iftar is more of a community affair, with many gathering to break the fast together, as late as 9:40pm towards the end of the month.
However, with the current coronavirus restrictions in place, gatherings may be restricted to their homes and away from extended family.
A typical Iftar meal varies around the world, however traditionally it is broken with dates and juice, milk or water as it is believed Prophet Mohammed ate three dates when he broke his fast.
Ramadan 2020: Ramadan is a period of reflection
Prayer, Suhur and Iftar times can vary throughout the month based on when the sun rises and sets, and where you are in the country.
Some mosques have provided schedules for those fasting to adhere to.
Good deeds are also a big part of Ramadan, with more prayers, charity work and studying the Qu’ran thought to increase spiritual reward or thawab during this time.
When Ramadan ends after the sighting of the crescent moon, the marks the start of Eid al-Fitr.
Ramadan 2020: Ramadan is ended with Eid al-Fitr – with a traditional feast
Eid al-Fitr translates from Arabic to “festival of breaking the fast”, and marks the beginning of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar, named Shawwal.
This marks the end of the solemn period of reflection which is observed during Ramadan and is a joyous celebration.
It is traditionally celebrated for three days and is a national holiday in most Muslim countries.
However, celebrations may be confined to homes and services streamed online due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Many countries are facing lockdown conditions amid the global pandemic – meaning gatherings of people and travel are not permitted.
Typically Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with a feast, with traditional foods prepared, as well as exchanging gifts and spending time with family.
Often you will hear or see the celebratory phrase “Eid Mubarak!” which means “blessed Eid”.
Maswood Ahmed, a member of the Muslim Council of Britain, told the BBC: “Eid is a time of celebration after accomplishing one of the most important religious duties: fasting during the month of Ramadan”.