This year the fasting month will coincide with the coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted normal life for the vast majority of the world.
With Ramadan expected to start on April 24th subject to the sighting of the moon, Muslims are preparing for the holy month in extraordinary circumstances.
This year the month will coincide with the coronavirus pandemic, which has left millions infected globally, and tens of thousands of people dead.
This will likely have an impact on communal activities, such as families iftars and communal prayers, as people stay at home during lockdowns and prayer services in mosques are cancelled.
Nevertheless, unless people become sick or at risk of becoming so, fasting and other private spiritual activities, such as the reading of the Quran, will go ahead as usual.
Why is Ramadan important?
Muslims believe that the Angel Gabriel descended from heaven to reveal God’s message to the Prophet Muhammad in Ramadan.
These revelations came to form the establishing text of the Islamic faith, called the Quran, which Muslims hold to be the unaltered and final testament of God.
The precise night of the revelation is subject to debate among Islamic scholars, but is believed to be one of the odd numbered dates during the last ten days of the month. Many prefer to mark the occasion on the 27th night, which they call ‘Laylat ul Qadr’ or ‘The Night of Destiny’.
If you are fasting during Ramadan, check out the best food you can eat during the month pic.twitter.com/FkRBi4dD1m— TRT World (@trtworld) May 30, 2019
Ramadan was later designated as the fasting month by the Prophet Muhammad after revelations in the Quran.
Practicing Muslims fast for the daylight hours. That means not eating between sunrise and sunset. The act of breaking the fast at sunset is known as iftar, while the pre-dawn meal that precedes the fast is known as suhoor or sehri, depending on where you’re from.
Muslims also abstain from drinking water, smoking, and sexual relations during daytime.
Believers are also encouraged to improve their behaviour, and to avoid swearing, fighting, gossiping, and laziness, as those things lessen the spiritual reward of fasting.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside belief in God and accepting the Prophet Muhammad as his messenger, the five daily prayers, the Hajj pilgrimage, and alms-giving.
It is one of the obligatory aspects of Islam with the exception of those excused for medical reasons.
Verse 183 of the second chapter of the holy book reads: “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa.”
‘Taqwa’ in this case means a conscious awareness of God.
However, like all religious acts, the practice of fasting is meaningful in human terms as well.
Many Muslims believe it also helps in bringing them closer to the poor and those who feel hunger on a regular basis, some believe it teaches them to value the importance of food and drink, while for others it is an occasion, which brings them closer to family members.