The month of Ramadan is expected to begin on the evening of 22 March, following the sighting of the moon over Mecca. Lasting for 30 days, this year Ramadan will end on the evening of 21 April, depending on the sighting of the moon. The auspicious month of Ramadan is a time for reflection, contemplation and celebration.
Sawm is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and the Arabic word for ‘fasting’. Although fasting occurs elsewhere in the Islamic calendar, it is primarily associated with the month of Ramadan for the month-long fast. Fasting is a key part of Ramadan and all those of able body and sound mind should fast during this Holy time. Sawm takes place every day from sunrise to sunset.
The sunset and the start of Maghrib prayers mark the end of the day’s fast. It is traditional to break the fast by eating dates, a proven healthy snack, before iftar (evening meal) which is normally eaten with friends and family.
Eid al-Fitr meaning ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, is the important holiday that follows the month of Ramadan. Celebrated for up to three days, Eid al-Fitr does not begin until the sighting of the moon. It is a time for great feasts, the giving of gifts to children and spending time with those dearest to you.
Before the end of Ramadan and the special Eid al-Fitr prayer, all Muslims should make Zakat al-Fitr, a charitable contribution traditionally of a staple food item. This is intended to help those less fortunate to enjoy the celebration of Eid al-Fitr with their friends and loved ones.