What Is Ramadan?

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


A man buying vegetables for a traditional Ramadan soup that is eaten when the sun sets in Marrakesh, Morocco

What is Ramadan? 

Ramadan is a month long Islamic holiday that involves fasting, and abstaining from other indulgent activities. The month it is celebrated changes every year based on the lunar calendar. 

According to the Islamic religion, the first years of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (the founder of Islam) during the last third of Ramadan, and fasting during this blessed month is considered to be one of the five pillars of the faith. (The other five are the Islamic Creed, daily prayers, alms-giving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.)

According to my research, as a Muslim, fasting is meant to bring you closer to God and to develop a companionship with him, to help you reflect on all that you have, and to develop a sympathy for those in poverty. 

What happens during Ramadan? 

The rules that have to be followed during this holy month are NO eating, NO drinking (not even water), NO fighting, NO smoking, and NO sex between sunrise and sunset. If you are from a city located further to the North (like me) summer days can last from 6 am-11 pm, leaving very little time to eat, and A LOT of time to be hungry. (Don’t worry, children, pregnant women, travellers, and sick people are exempt if they want to be.) 

Once the sun goes down, however, the eating and drinking rules are lifted, and in some Muslim countries, the streets turn into huge feasting parties. 

Fun Fact: In 2012, Ramadan took place during the Summer Olympic Games. Over 3,000 Muslim athletes fasted and still participated in the games!