Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. The word Ramadan is derived from “ramdh’ which means “burning of the feet from heat”. According to Islamic belief, the day honours the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. Fasting is mandatory for all adult Muslims, with an exception of those who are suffering from an illness or are travelling, pregnant, diabetic or are going through their menstrual cycle. The fast lasts from dawn till sunset and includes refrain from consumption of food, drinking liquids, and engagement in sexual relations with one’s spouse. Along with this, the followers are expected to refrain from sinful behaviour such as false speech and fighting as it might negate the reward of fasting.
Coming to terminology, the pre-dawn meal before the fast is called thesuhur, while the meal at sunset that breaks the fast is the iftar. The Muslim tradition believes that Muhamad broke his fast with three dates, hence the first food to break the fast (iftar) is usually dates. Post which they move to the fourth prayer of the day followed by the main meal. Another important event during Ramadan is charity; according to which a fixed amount of one’s personal savings is supposed to be given out to the poor. Though it’s not mandatory, but a majority of Muslims are encouraged to read or recite the complete Quran. Another common observation is symbolic decorations of lanterns across city streets and colonies. Common greetings exchanged during the festival are “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem”, which wish the recipient a blessed or generous Ramadan.
Ramadan is an important festival across the globe; so much so that in some countries failure to fast or open flouting of the same is considered as crime and can result in prosecution by the law. Some countries even have laws that amend the daily schedule, especially work during Ramadan. Muhammad believed that it was important to maintain a balance between work and worship, because of which the work schedule is not hampered.