Being a predominantly Muslim country we in Malaysia know quite a lot about the Ramadan festival, however if you do not, then let’s find out exactly what it is about.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and it is not just a single day event but it is almost a month of prayer, reflection and community by Muslims worldwide and is observed from the sighting of the crescent moon to the next sighting.
While observing Ramadan Muslims around the world refrain from not only food and drink but also tobacco products, sexual relations and sinful behavior – instead the devote themselves to prayer(“salat”) and reflection while reciting the Qaran. They also perform charitable deeds and many are organized by local mosques around the world as they give back to the community and less fortunate.
During Ramadan Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. This fast, called “sawm”, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. To get through a long day without food, Muslims will often wake up early to eat a meal called “suhur” before daybreak.
The fast is broken with an evening meal, called “iftar”, once the sun goes down. Iftar is often a family or community event; it is commonly eaten at long tables set up in mosques, community centers, or outdoors. As fasting during Ramadan is physically taxing, exemptions are made for young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with health conditions.
There are three important dates during the fasting period and they are:
Beginning Hilā This is the date of the sighting of the crescent moon to confirm the opening of Ramadan.
Night of Power Laylat al-Qadr Is considered the holiest night of the year and is generally believed to have occurred on an odd numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Eid Eid al-Fitr Marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal the next lunar month is declared after the sighting of the new crescent moon.
So as during this time of social distancing, understandably the amount of gathering and celebration will be quite reduced. However, as we come in to this time we believe the world can do with a timeout and some quiet reflection on what we can do better once things return to normality again.
While our brothers and sisters in the Muslim community observe in Ramadan we encourage every one of all religious communities to take a time out and reflect on being better people for not only our families, but our communities as well.