What Is Ramadan? The History of The Religious Celebration

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

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

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, but it falls in the Northern Hemisphere's summer. 

The history of Ramadan

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, fasting during this time 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. 

The rules of Ramadan 

The rules that have to be followed during this holy month are:  

  • NO eating
  • NO drinking (not even water)
  • NO fighting
  • NO smoking
  • NO sex between sunrise and sunset

If you are from an area of the world located further to the North summer days can last from 6 am-11 pm (or longer), leaving very little time to eat, and A LOT of time to be hungry. (Don’t worry, children, pregnant women, travelers, and sick people are exempt if they want to be.) 

Once the sun goes down, the eating and drinking rules are lifted with special food being eaten to help ease out of the daily fast. 

Fun Fact

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

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