As Muslims all over the world are marking the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday, 6th June, INFORMATION NIGERIA has put together 12 very interesting facts non-Muslims probably didn’t know about Ramadan.
1.Ramadan, the ninth month on the Muslim calendar, is celebrated as the month when the first verses of the Quran were said to be revealed to the prophet Muhammad in 610 CE. Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Power, is thought to be the actual day when the Quran was given to the prophet and usually falls within the last 10 days of the holiday.
2.During Ramadan, observers are expected to abstain from food, drink, and other pleasures from dawn to dusk. Removing these comforts from daily routine is intended to focus the mind on prayer, spirituality, and charity and to purify the body and mind. Muslims are also expected to abstain from impurities such as gossip and cursing.
3.Several different groups are excused from fasting during Ramadan: pregnant women, people who are mentally or physically ill, and sometimes women who are breastfeeding. Children are not obligated to fast until they hit puberty, although many choose to observe the fast at least part of the month in preparation for later years.
4. The start of Ramadan is determined by the moon.
5. The date changes every year. Islam functions on a lunar calendar that doesn’t quite line up with the solar Gregorian calendar that the secular world uses. So while Muslim holidays are always the same day on the Muslim calendar, they happen on different days on the Gregorian calendar – typically moving 11 or 12 days earlier each year. In 2012, Ramadan began on July 19.
6.In countries where Muslims are the majority, Ramadan has a drastic impact on daily life. Egypt pushes the clocks back an hour during the holy month so that the fast feels like it is ending earlier and the evenings are lengthened. Work days are made shorter during the month to accommodate the additional time spent in prayer and in enjoying festive meals to end the daily fast.
7.It is believed that Muhammad received the first revelation during Ramadan.
8.In Muslim countries the economy is impacted because of the fasting. It usually results in a month of inflation; prices go up.
9.During Ramadan Muslims are obligated to give to charity through Sadaqa (voluntary giving), or Zakat (mandatory giving).
10.The Five Pillars of Islam include Sawm: Fasting during Ramadan, Hajj: a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life, Zakat: giving to the poor, Salat: five-time daily prayer, facing Mecca, including absolution prior to prayer, Shalada: declaration of belief in one true God.
11.The meal before the beginning of the fast is called suhoor, and the meal after sunset is called iftar.
12.The first prayer of the day is called Fajr.