The month of Ramadan begins on May 6, 2019. From this day forward, for a month, several Muslims around the world will fast every day from dawn to dusk. This is an opportunity to learn more about this sacred month in Muslim culture.
Ramadan existed before Islam
Ramadan did exist long before the arrival of Islam. We are talking here about the month of Ramadan and not about the practice of fasting during that month. Ramadan is indeed the ninth month of the pre-Islamic lunisolar calendar. Etymologically, it refers to “the heat of summer” and indicated, more generally, the month that fell in summer.
Ramadan starts after a new moon
In the Hegirian calendar, which is lunar, each month begins after the new moon, when the first thin crescent is visible in the sky. The beginning of the month of Ramadan is determined on the “night of doubt” when the sky is scanned at sunset to identify the crescent. If it is visible, the month of Ramadan – and therefore fasting – begins the next day at dusk. If it does not appear, an additional day is added to the previous month, Chaabane.
Ramadan does not start on the same date for all Muslims
The first crescent of a new moon is not visible everywhere on the same date, so the beginning of Ramadan may have a subsequent day of difference depending from where we are on the globe. While some Muslims use a local observation to determine the beginning of the month, others prefer to follow the calendar of Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt.
Ramadan fasting, a matter of spirituality
Ramadan is a sacred month in Muslim culture. It was indeed during this month that Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Mohammed. The fourth of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan fasting, is more than a tradition: it is a practice that is supposed to focus the body on spirituality by depriving it of food, water and sexual pleasure. A faster can thus devote more time to meditation and prayer.