With the month of Ramadan now underway, we asked some of the burning questions you might have about the holy month.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the fasting month for Muslims. It falls in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Participants fast during daylight, and generally eat a meal before sunrise and after sunset, called suhoor and iftar.
The end of Ramadan Eid ul Fitr is marked with a large celebration.
Can we wish people a Happy Ramadan?
Well-wishes are always welcome according to Ali Kadri, president of Queensland’s oldest mosque, Holland Park Mosque.
“Yes, of course,” Mr Kadri said. “It’s just a good greeting to give to people who are going through the self sacrifice for their faith.
“It won’t make up for the food and drink, but it will go a long way.”
And if you want to be really clever, you can say Ramadan Mubarak, which essentially means Happy Ramadan, or Congratulations, it’s Ramadan.
Who is excused from fasting?
Mr Kadri said people who were sick, children below the age of 13 who had not gone through puberty, women who were on their period, travellers, breast feeding mothers and pregnant women were not required to take part in fasting.
What if you play sport? Can you have some water?
Mr Kadri said professional athletes who travel were not required to fast, but other Muslims were encouraged to avoid sport for the month.
“They are not allowed water, they are not allowed to eat … unless they are playing professionally and if you travel you don’t have to fast,” he said.
"If you are in those situations, it puts a lot of stress on them during the fasting time."p>
How do you tell when you can start and break the fast each day?
Mr Kadri said most mosques provided their congregation with a Ramadan calendar which detailed the times they were allowed to eat.
Photo: Pakistani vendors sell balloons to mark the start of Eid ul Fitr (AFP: Rizwan Tabassum)
Is it hard to fast when others around you aren’t?
Usman Nasir, who lives in Brisbane with his wife Madiha and their two daughters, said he still enjoyed fasting in Australia, despite growing up in Pakistan where it was the norm.
“Our routine changes in the month of Ramadan,” Mr Nasir said.
“We wake up really early in the morning and that usually means the two girls are up too. Although they are too young to keep fast yet, we want them to know about what this month represents, [for example] patience and charity.
“Ramadan is also supposed to remind you that there are people in this world who can’t afford to eat the basic three meals a day while people around them eat and drink lavishly.
“So in my opinion, what better place to feel that than a place where keeping fast in Ramadan is not the norm.”
What do you wish Australians knew about fasting?
Mr Nasir said he wanted people to know it was a blessing to take part in Ramadan.
“Ramadan for us is not only about giving up eating and drinking, it’s also a month in which one should give up his ego of being a superior human than others, control one’s anger, donate to the underprivileged and any sins that we do in our daily lives,” Mr Nasir said.
“I would like Australians to know that Ramadan for a true Muslim is not hardship but a blessing and privilege from Allah.
“It’s a chance to improve one’s shortcomings as humans and as Muslims, forget old quarrels and forgive each other, be more kind and generous towards humanity and ask for forgiveness for one’s sins.”
What else do you give up during Ramadan?
Mr Kadri said many Muslims used the month as an opportunity to address addictions, including smoking.
“It’s the patience that it gives you, the ability to tolerate and control your desires … as in food, hunger, thirst and the desire to have sex, you will be able to control the other desires to do bad things.”
He said the other part was that it was a month of celebration within the community, and families and friends gather to break the fast each night.
“In a Muslim family it’s a time to come together,” he said.
Source (reproduced with permission)
Ramadan brings people together. Here, Muslims pray in the street outside Lakemba Mosque