When does Ramadan 2016 start? Everything you need to know about the holy festival
Well, that will have been yesterday! Ramadan will continue until on or around Thursday July 7.
In the Islamic calendar, holidays begin on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Ramadan from sunset on Sunday. As the festival is associated with lunar cycles, it moves around 11 days or so every year. This year it is to be the longest Ramadan is 33 years due to it clashing with the Summer Solstice – the longest days of the year!
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a month of the Islamic calendar.
It’s an incredibly sacred time for Muslims who believe that during Ramadan the Qu’ran – the holy book – was revealed to mankind through the Prophet Muhammad.
What do Muslims do during Ramadan?
During Ramadan, Muslims fast during the hours of daylight, meaning they are allowed no food or drink at all.
As well as fasting, they undertake extra prayers and worship, as a means to grow closer to Allah.
The month is intended to improve morality and character, so there are more regular mosque visits alongside a personal attempt to work on positive traits and thoughts.
According to the Qu’ran, the Prophet said: “Whoever does not give up false statements and evil deeds and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink [or fasting]” – meaning that you must work on your whole person.
What is iftaar?
Iftaar is when families and friends gather together at sundown to break their fast – iftaar literally translates as ‘break fast’.
Many eat with family, but there are also occasionally mealtimes at mosques, charity iftaars and rushes on halal restaurants.
Who is exempt from fasting?
The elderly, pregnant women and diabetes sufferers are exempt from fasting in Ramadan.
Children are also not expected to fast, although they do occasionally join parents on ‘half-fasts’.
Elite athletes are sometimes also given a pass, such as Muslim players at the World Cup last year. But it is a personal choice.
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
At the end of Ramadan, this year on or around Thursday July 7 (depending on the sight of the moon), Muslims will celebrate with Eid al-Fitr – one of the two major holidays of Islam.
Muslims will gather together at the mosque for a prayer, before spending the day with family or friends and wishing one another ‘Eid Mubarak’, or ‘Blessed Eid’.