Burma Times: 17 June 2015
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is when Muslims fast during daylight and when the Qur’an is said to have been revealed to the prophet Muhammad
Muslims around the world are preparing for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. From waking up in the early hours for a quick bite and sip of water, to the waiting – date in hand – for the seconds to tick by until the call to prayer at sunset, why do Muslims fast and what is Ramadan?
What is Ramadan?
Muslims – there are 1.6 billion in the world – believe Ramadan is the holiest month in the year , when the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, was revealed to the prophet Muhammad.
When is Ramadan?
Depending on the sighting of the crescent moon, or hilal, the month begins this year on the evening of the Wednesday 18 June, which means Muslims will begin their first day of fasting at sunrise on Thursday 19 June.
The month of fasting will end on either Friday 17 July or Saturday 18 July, as there are either 29 or 30 days in a lunar month.
As Ramadan begins about 11 days earlier each year, it sometimes falls in winter months when the fasts are short, and in summer months when the fasts are long.
Why do Muslims fast?
During this month, observant Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. This is because fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. The other acts of worship are the shahadah, which is the declaration of faith; salat, the five daily prayers; zakat, or almsgiving; and the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Fasting in Ramadan is obligatory for Muslims, and in the Qur’an it states:
O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa [God-consciousness]. – The Qur’an, Al-Baqarah:183