Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr: Muslim Celebrations
Ramadan begins on 9 July 2013.
Muslims all over the world practice fasting (sawm) for the a whole month during what they call Ramadan. You may be curious to learn more about what it is, who all celebrate it, and how it is celebrated.
Ramadan is in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, and Muslims spend their daylight hours fasting until sunset, when they will break their fast for the day.
This is the time that they need to purify their souls by abstaining from any food or drink as well as any physical needs during the day. They would refocus their attention on God and display a self sacrificing spirit. During Ramadan it is also a time for Muslims to re-evaluate their lives and make peace with people who have wronged them, and strengthen ties with friends and family while doing away with bad habits.
The arabic word sawm means “to refrain”. Not just from food and drink, but also from evil words, thoughts, and actions. During Ramadan, everything single thing done by people of the Muslim faith must indicate that they have taken sawm to heart. There must be no gossiping or any backbiting. Their eyes should not wander by looking at unlawful things, and their ears should not listen to obscene words or idle talk. Every part of their body must be restrained from doing bad things.
Why Muslims Celebrate Ramadan on The Ninth Lunar Month
The saying goes that the ninth month is the month when Allah revealed the first verses of the holy book of Islam, the Quran. It was around 610 A.D. that Muhammad wandered around the desert near Mecca (Situated in Saudi Arabia) while pondering about his faith.
Then, one night the angel Gabriel called him from the sky and told him that he had been chosen to receive the word of Allah. Following that, Muhammad found that he was able to speak the verses that is today transcribed as the holy Quran.
This is why Muslims recite about one thirtieth of the Quran each night in prayer during Ramadan. The complete scripture would have been recited by the end of the month, just before Eid.
Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Eid is a very special day to all Muslims as it is the end of the holy Ramadan, and is celebrated on the 1st day of the following month of Shawwal. It is an occasion where members of the family get to meet with each other as well as prepare traditional dishes.
Countries that celebrate Eid are Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Malaysia, Iran, all other Arabic countries and some Islamic countries. Eid should be celebrated on Sunday, 19 August 2012, and on Thursday, 8 August 2013. According to the Islamic calendar, Eid is always on the same day. But, since the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar, the date varies slightly from year to year. This is why the dates varies from country to country as it depends to a large extent when the moon has been sighted.
How The End of Ramadan Gets Celebrated
Eid is known as the festival of fast breaking, and involves a joyous three-day celebration at the end of Ramadan. This is also the time that every Muslim donates clothing, food and money to the poor. On the day of Eid everyone gathers in various outdoor locations or Mosques to perform their morning prayer, after which they scatter to visit friends and family, and participate in various festivities which include gift giving. In most countries, the end of Ramadan gets recognized as an official holiday.