Our new blog series invites members and friends of WIN to prepare a ‘festival diary’, exploring the history and significance of specific rituals or outlining the routine of religious celebrations, as a window into the lived experience of people of different faiths. This week’s author is Dr. Nuzhat Akhtar from our Barnet WIN group.

The Islamic Calendar is a lunar calendar. It has 12 months. Ramadan is the 9th month. It is one of the holiest and blessed months. In Ramadan, Muslims’ holy book the Quran was revealed. It was the start of the Quran revelation from Allah (Arabic name of God) to the last Prophet (Messenger) Muhammad (peace be upon him). It took 23 years to be completed. In Ramadan all Muslims in the world keep fast.

It starts from sunrise till sunset. Muslims get up before dawn. It is called Sahur and they have some food, which is mostly cooked at that time. Most of the family fast and they all have food. When dawn appears Muslims stop eating. The morning prayer Fajar is prayed at home or at the mosque. The whole day nothing is eaten or drunk.

When time of opening the fast comes near the whole family contributes in preparing the food and laying the table. Food is prepared with excitement and enthusiasm. Special food is made.

Breaking of the fast is called Iftar. The whole family get together, first make Dua (ask for blessing of Allah) then have dates mostly. After breaking the fast everybody prays Maghrib (Sunset Prayer, 4th Prayer). Then the delicious food made is enjoyed. Sometimes friends and relatives are invited for Iftar. It is a very happy and blessed time.

Fasting becomes a must at the age of puberty, which is about 12-13 years old. There is an option for those who are sick or travelling that they can fast later.

The whole month special prayers are held in Mosques (Place of Prayers) and at homes. Fasting cleanses the body as well as the soul. It is not only to abstain from food and drink but also to keep away from bad things and deeds.

Islam teaches us to be a good human being. In this month everybody tries to show extra care for others. This includes feeding the hungry, giving charity to the poor and to be kind to all regardless of what religion they are. Allah (Swt) is showering his blessings throughout our lives but in Ramadan blessings are in abundance. In all Muslim countries, routine and atmosphere changes.

The last 10 nights are the most holiest and blessed. The Holy Quran was revealed in one of these nights. Muslims pray all night.

Every year Ramadan comes 10 days early because of the moon sighting. In summer fasting is longer than winters. At the end of Ramadan the main festival EID is celebrated to thank Allah for all his blessings.

Islam has 5 pillars:

  1. SHAHADA – Submit to the Oneness of Allah.
  2. SALAH (Prayer). Muslims pray 5 times a day.
  3. SAWM.( Ramadan is the fasting month.
  4. ZAKAT (Charity)
  5. HAJJ – Pilgrimage to the Holy land of Makkah and Medina.

Fasting is the 3rd pillar of Islam.

Wishing all Muslims Ramadan Mubarak. May Allah (Swt) shower all his blessings (Ameen).