Ramadan Mubarak! If you ask your friend out for lunch this month and they say no, don’t take it personally.
They may be celebrating the month where Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
Here’s what you need to know about Ramadan 2021 — including some basic do’s and don’ts.
When does Ramadan start?
This year, Ramadan starts on the evening of Monday, April 12.
The Islamic holy month is always held on the 9th month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. Since the calendar depends on the moon cycle, Ramadan falls about 11 days earlier each year. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk — yes, even water.
When the sun sets, there is a communal meal called ‘Iftar’ where you break your fast, usually with your family or friends.But the month of Ramadan is about more than just fasting.
You are also encouraged to do good deeds such as charity, and abstain from sinful acts such as gossip. It’s also a month of self-reflection and a way for Muslims to develop positive habits that can be brought forward once Ramadan is over.
When does Ramadan end?
This year, Ramadan ends when the sun sets on Wednesday, May 12.
Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the moon cycle. After a month of fasting, Muslims celebrate with a festival called Eid and wish each other ‘Eid Mubarak’ (Have a blessed Eid). Eid is a social event that is celebrated by having your family, friends and neighbours over for a large feast.
Muslims decorate their homes and wear new clothes, and children and the elderly receive gifts or money packets. While practices vary across the world, Eid is also a time when Muslims seek forgiveness from each other. COVID restrictions have meant Eid celebrations are smaller and socially distanced, but are still meaningful.
What are the rules?
Even though Ramadan involves abstaining from food and water, it is a social festival that centres around coming together for a feast. Well, there’s the big one — don’t eat or drink from dawn to dusk. Before the sun rises, Muslims usually wake up to eat a big meal so that they won’t be hungry during the day. Those who don’t want to wake up early have a big dinner before bed. Of course, not every Muslim will fast this Ramadan, so don’t be too surprised if you see your friend eating during the day.
You’re exempt from fasting if you’re:
- Travelling long distances
Children are not required to fast but they’re welcome to learn by participating, such as fasting up until lunchtime.
If you miss a fast, you can make up for it by fasting at a later date. And if you can’t fast because of health reasons, you can donate food or money to the poor instead.
What does Ramadan Mubarak mean?
You may see the phrases “Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Kareem” on social media.
“Ramadan Mubarak” means “Have a blessed Ramadan”.
“Ramadan Kareem” means “Have a generous Ramadan”.
You don’t have to be participating in Ramadan to say “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem”. They are festive greetings the same as “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah”.
Can I eat in front of someone fasting?
You can eat and drink in front of someone fasting for Ramadan during the day. While they will probably turn down your lunch invite, you can have dinner together when they break their fast. Remember, Ramadan is all about coming together, so inviting a person to break their fast with you is a large part of the celebration.
Religions for Peace Australia greets all Muslims with Ramadan Mubarak! We wish you all a safe and blessed Ramadan.