10 Interesting Ramadan Facts to Learn Right Now
(SPOT.ph) Today, June 6, is the start of the holiest month for our Muslim brothers and sisters—the Ramadan. Islam is the second largest religion in the country and most of the Filipino Muslims are in Mindanao. In a statement released on Sunday, June 5, Grand Mufti Udasan of the Darul Iftah of the Philippines reminded Muslim believers of the importance and relevance of fasting during this occasion. "It is to discipline us Muslims spiritually, physically and economically," he said.
Here are 10 things you may know about the role of Ramadan in the Islamic faith.
- Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the time when Muslims commemorate the first revelation of the Quran, their holy book, to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah.
- It's common to say "Ramadan Kareem” or “Ramadan Mubarak” as a form of special greeting at the start of the Ramadan. "Eid Mubarak" is the greeting at the end of the month.
- It is observed through fasting and self-control during daylight hours. This means that Muslims wake up before dawn to have a meal, which they call Suhoor. They have another meal at dusk, which is called the Iftar.
- Since it is dependent on daylight, the number of fasting hours vary for Muslims in different countries and latitudes. Muslims in Denmark will fast for about 24 hours, while Muslims in Argentina will fast for only 9.5 hours.
- Fasting during Ramadan is the fourth item in the Five Pillars of Islam. The other four are: Shahada, the declaration of faith; Salah, prayer; Zakat, giving charity; and Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
- Exempted from fasting are the elderly, disabled, ill, children who haven't hit puberty yet, pregnant, lactating, or menstruating women, and travelers. However, menstruating women and travelers have to make up by fasting on later dates or by giving monetary donations.
- The Islamic calendar (hijri) follows the lunar cycle as opposed to the Western/Gregorian calendar, which follows the solar cycle.
- The start of Ramadan depends on the sighting of the crescent moon (hilal), which marks the start of a new month in the lunar calendar. In the Philippines, this is determined and made official by the Moon-sighting Committees of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos. They have designated focal persons for the moon sighting in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, and are in coordination with associates in neighboring Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, and Singapore. In fact, this year's Ramadan was determined by moon sighting in Malaysia, not the Philippines, on Sunday night, June 5.
- The Laylat al Qadr or "Night of Power" is a significant day during the month of Ramadan. It is the exact night of the first revelation of the Quran. It's celebrated on an odd numbered day in the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan.
- The end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr or "Feast of Breaking the Fast," is determined by a confirmed sighting of the new moon after a month of fasting. It is a joyous occasion similar to the Christian's Christmas Day and is celebrated by serving sweet treats. This is why it's also known as the Sweet Festival.
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