Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
In Islam fasting is a way of physical and spiritual purification. It is a time when Muslims detach from material pleasures and get close to Allah. Fasting is also believed to increase Muslims’ piety, reminding them that others are less fortunate than them.
Fasting is when you abstain from food, drink, smoking and having sexual relations from before sunrise to a little after sunset. Muslims will wake up early in the morning before sunrise for prayers in the morning and eat (Suhoor) before fasting begins for the day.
In the evening after sunset, Muslims break their fast with their families with a meal called Iftar, often started with dates.
Adults that are able are expected to fast, very young children however, and elderly people who are sick are exempted from fasting. Other people also exempted are pregnant and breastfeeding women, sick people, and traveling people. Menstruating women are also expected from fasting, they however make up the days missed later. It is encouraged to train your kids to gradually learn how to fast.
Ramadan is a time when Muslims exercise self-discipline and restraint both physically and spiritually, as well as empathizing with the plight of the poor.
What is Eid-ul-Fitr?
The first day of the month after the month of Ramadan, is marked with a big feast in celebration of the end of the month of fasting. The exchange of gifts and celebration on this day is known as the ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’ or Eid al-Fitr. The Eid al-Fitr this year is expected to take place from Thursday 14th June to the evening of Friday, 15th June.
The Eid-ul-Fitr prayer is performed in congregation and is recommended in open spaces such as fields, at the yard of mosques, and other such spaces.
Eid-al-Fitr should not be confused with Eid al-Adha, or ‘Festival of Sacrifice’. This expected to fall around Tuesday, 21st August to Saturday, 25th August this year.