The Muslim Holy month of Ramadhan is here with us again. It is a month of prayer, worship and reflection. World’s estimated 1.6 billion Muslims kicked off their Ramadhan on April 13 and will conclude on May 12.
Ramadan, also spelled Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan or Ramathan, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.
The lunar calendar, which is followed by Islam, is 10 to 11 days shorter than the modern-day Gregorian calendar (which is based on the Earth’s rotation around the sun). This difference means Ramadan begins on a different day each year. This year it will begin in mid-April; in 10 years time it will begin in mid-January.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are compulsory commandments ordered by God. The other pillars are prayer, the declaration of faith, giving charity and going on the Hajj pilgrimage if the believer is physically and financially able.
Muslims believe that through fasting they are able to strengthen their relationship with God. Time is spent participating in acts of worship, such as praying, reading the Quran and giving to charity.
Abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours allows Muslims to practise willpower and focus their energy on working on their faith.
Fasting also allows Muslims to empathise with those who are less fortunate, and be more compassionate to those in need.
Can anything invalidate a fast?
Yes, including intentionally eating or drinking, intercourse, smoking and menstrual bleeding.
One question most Muslims get asked during Ramadan (alongside the infamous gasp of “not even water?”) is what happens if you eat or drink by mistake? Can you not just take a doughnut when no one is looking?
Eating or drinking intentionally invalidates your fast, as the purpose of Ramadan is to practice self-restraint and engage in religious acts.
However, eating or drinking, if it is done through a genuine mistake, does not nullify your fast: followers can continue fasting as normal.