By Miranda Cleland
22% of the world’s population this month aren’t eating or drinking anything- not even water- for an average of 16 hours a day, sunset to sunrise. And it has nothing to do with a lack of food. 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are taking part in the holiest month of Islam – Ramadan.
Unlike Christians, whose religion follows the solar calendar, Muslims go by the lunar calendar, which typically has 354 or 355 days. Ramadan is the ninth month. Because the internationally used Gregorian calendar has 365 days, Ramadan falls about 11 days earlier every year. This year, it began on Monday, June 6th after the sighting of the crescent moon in Saudi Arabia. So what makes Ramadan so special? Well, according to many scholars, the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (SAAW) during the month of Ramadan. Therefore, Ramadan is a time to become closer to God by fasting and exercising self-discipline. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and all able Muslims partake. We asked some of our 8th-grade students what they think of Ramadan. Here’s what they said.
Latifa, 25 years old, says “Ramadan means fasting with your whole body. Besides avoiding eating and drinking, you avoid your tongue and ears from gossiping and lying and your eyes from things that are haram. I feel great when I am fasting because I can worship more.”
Nazanin, 23 years old, likes Ramadan because “one of the benefits is experiencing the hunger of poor people.”
Shekiba Akbari, 22 years old, also appreciates the emphasis on restraining yourself during Ramadan. “My favorite part of the day is Iftar after evening twilight. I feel much closer to my creator.”
During the average day in Ramadan, Muslims wake before sunrise to eat before the day of fasting begins. At sundown, people gather in groups for parties and feasts for iftar, or breaking fast. Iftar usually begins with eating a few dates, then prayers, then a large meal. Ramadan is set to end on July 5th or 6th this year, culminating in Eid al-Fitr celebrations.