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All About Ramadan

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayer, charity, and spiritual reflection to mark the holy month when God revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. After each day of abstaining from food and water, Muslims come together with their families, friends, and neighbors for evening feasts, or Iftars, to break the fast. During Ramadan, the faithful participate in charitable activities and spend more time praying and studying the Quran.

 

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

Much like Catholics fast during Lent and Jews fast during Yom Kippur, Muslims fast during Ramadan to feel closer to God through self-restraint and to be reminded of their blessings. Taking time away from daily indulgences for reflection, prayer, and remembering those who are less fortunate is seen as physically and spiritually cleansing.

 

How does the fast work?

Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset for the entire month of Ramadan. They have a pre-dawn meal to prepare for the day, with different cultures enjoying different staples and traditions. It's not just about abstaining from food and water: Muslims are encouraged to avoid lies, gossip, and arguments and refrain from activities such as smoking or drinking caffeine.

 

How is the fast broken?

At sunset, Muslims break their fast as Prophet Muhammad did 1,400 years ago, with a sip of water and a few dates. After prayers are said, a large, social feast called an Iftar is shared with family and friends.

 

How is the end of Ramadan celebrated?

The end of Ramadan is celebrated by a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr—the most important days of the Islamic calendar. The day after Ramadan, families attend early morning Eid prayers and enjoy their first mid-day breakfast since the start of Ramadan. During Eid, Muslims thank God for the willpower given to them during their fasts, and children often receive gifts and treats.

 

When is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is marked by the movement of the moon, so it shifts each year. In 2018, Ramadan falls between May 15 and June 16.

 

As a non-Muslim, how can I be respectful of Ramadan?

  • Greet your Muslim friends, neighbors, and constituents with “Ramadan Mubarak,” (have a blessed Ramadan), "Ramadan Kareem," (may Ramadan be generous), or simply, “Happy Ramadan!”

  • Get to know Muslims in your community: visit a mosque, celebrate alongside neighbors at an Iftar dinner, or join them at a community event.

  • When possible, refrain from eating in front of those who have been fasting. Be mindful and supportive when Muslim colleagues are fasting and don’t schedule lunch meetings.

  • Learn more about Islam, its history, and the texts and beliefs shared with Christianity and Judaism.

  • Remember that Ramadan is a time of reflection and celebration for more than 1 billion people around the world.

 

Examples of outreach and messages of support during Ramadan:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • President George W. Bush hosted multiple Iftars for White House staff and Muslim community leaders. In 2002, he celebrated Eid at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.

  • Thomas Jefferson is said to have hosted the first Iftar dinner at the White House in 1805.

  • Current and past Ramadan statements from the RNC: