Ramadan 2018 begins today, Tuesday the 15th of May and ends on the evening of Thursday the 14th of June. Ramadan is regarded as the holiest season of the Islamic calendar and one of the five pillars of Islam. It takes place in the 9th month as determined by the lunar Islamic calendar and as such falls on a different date each year. Ramadan is a month of fasting that commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, according to Islamic belief.
This annual event is observed by Muslims worldwide. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic word ramida which means scorching heat. Fasting during the month of Ramadan was made obligatory for all adult Muslims (except for those with a medical condition or the elderly or pregnant etc). This tradition is believed to have started in the month of Sha’ban during the year 623, the second year after the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina.
From dawn until sunset, fasting Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking or sexual intercourse. At the end of the daily fast at sunset, Muslim family and friends gather together to break their fast in a meal they call Iftar. Before sunrise many Muslims have the Suhur or predawn meal to tide them over until the next Iftar.
During the fasting time of Ramadan, Muslims are also required to refrain from sinful behaviour such as cursing or fighting. The increased offering of prayers and good deeds is also expected and is rewarded by spiritual rewards called thawab. This is the reason many Muslim communities work together during Ramadan to raise money for the poor and make clothing and food donations. Charity Iftar dinners are also hosted for those less fortunate.
The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a 3 day festival known as Eid al-Fitr and is one of Islam’s major holidays. Large family meals are enjoyed and gifts are often exchanged. The polite greeting to someone who is fasting Ramadan is Ramadan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem which means have a blessed or generous Ramadan.
Food served during Iftar and Eid al-Fitr is varied as Muslims' encompass many different cultural backgrounds. Keep an eye on our recipes page over the month of Ramadan as we share some of these delicious dishes.