This week will see the start of Ramadan for more than a billion Muslims worldwide. In some parts of the world, including China’s Xinjiang region, the authorities will suppress people’s attempts to practice their faith. Now is a crucial time to come together and build understanding between all our communities. So for those who don’t know much about Islam’s holiest month, here are some quick facts:
1. During Ramadan, Muslims worldwide fast every day from sunrise to sunset. Young children, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or on their periods, the elderly, and people with health problems, aren’t expected to fast.
2. For many, Ramadan is a time to feel closer to God, pray, spend time with loved ones, support charities and remember those less fortunate while they’re fasting.
3. By the end of Ramadan, adults who have more food than they need must pay Zakat al-Fitr – a contribution to support people in need of approximately £5/US$7 per head.
4. Ramadan begins during the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, when the new crescent moon can first be seen.
5. Muslims consider fasting in Ramadhan a core part of their religious beliefs. Before dawn, people eat a meal called the suhoor. The dusk meal is called the iftar.
6. Ramadan is often a community affair, with more people attending mosque in the evenings and coming together with friends and family for iftar.
7. During Ramadan, many offices and schools in Muslim-majority countries shut early.
8. During the last 10 days of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the Laylat Al Qadr, the holiest night of the year. It commemorates the night that the Quran, the Muslim Holy Book, was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
9. You can express well-wishes for Ramadan by saying “Ramadan Kareem” (“Have a generous Ramadan”) or “Ramadan Mubarak” (which can translate as “Happy Ramadan).”
10. After the last day of Ramadan, on Eid-al-fitr, the greeting changes to “Eid Mubarak”.