Ramadan: 8 questions about the holy month for 1.6 billion people worldwide

You may have heard about Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims that is celebrated annually around the world, right? The 2018 began a few days ago, on May 15, will end in the early evening of June 13, and will be followed by much of the 1.6 billion Islamists on the planet.

Yes, dear reader, the festivity is huge and very important, and here in Brazil, where Christianity is the predominant belief, many people are unaware of the meaning of Ramadan. So how about expanding your knowledge of one of the world's major religions and finding out what this celebration means?

1 - What is Ramadan?

The festival represents the holiest month of Islam.

For Muslims, it was during the month of Ramadan that God revealed to Muhammad the first verses of the Quran on a night known as Laylat al-Qadr - or "Night of Destiny." According to the Prophet, when the holy month begins, the gates of paradise open, the gates of hell close, and all demons are chained. In short: the period is considered sacred indeed!

2 - When is he celebrated?

Muslims follow the lunar calendar to establish their religious festivals, one that is based, as you might have guessed, on the phases of the moon. It adds up to 354 days, 11 fewer than the Gregorian calendar, which is the one adopted. most of the world; therefore, this means that Ramadan does not fall on exactly the same day every year - like Easter, whose date varies annually.

Exact date varies from year to year

In the case of Ramadan, which happens in the ninth month of the lunar calendar, as each year the calendar "returns" about 11 days from the Gregorian, so does the celebration; that is, every year she goes back too.

It is worth noting that depending on the region of the world where Muslims are celebrating Ramadan, this variation of dates makes a huge difference. That's because the festivities can coincide with the summer months - and you'll already understand how difficult it is ...

3 - How do Muslims keep this month?

This is a period of personal introspection.

During the entire month of Ramadan, Muslims fast every morning from sunrise to sunset. In addition, the festival is viewed as a period of spiritual contemplation, during which followers of religion should reflect on their relationship with God, study the Quran more fully, be more generous, practice charity more, and pray more - that is., almost the same idea of ​​Lent for Christians, but more severe.

4 - Fasting a month? Help!

Muslim fasting in Ramadan is not just about restricting food intake during the day. In addition to not eating, during the festivities, they can not drink, should not abstain from sex, can not smoke or take medicine, even without the help of a sip of water. In fact, no chewing gum is allowed!

All forbidden!

However, there are a few exceptions: the elderly, the sick, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding their children, young children, those traveling or menstruating are exempt from abstaining. In addition, those who - for some reason - “pierce” fasting can compensate for the slip by feeding a needy person or serving the abstinence period at another time of the year.

5 - What is a typical Ramadan day like?

Muslims wake up very early in the morning before sunrise so they can have their first meal of the day - as they can only eat again after dark. Thus, they usually favor the ingestion of large amounts of protein-rich foods and try to consume as much fluid as possible. Then, when the sun begins to rise, everyone stops for the first prayer of the day.

The routine is still normal.

Then everyone goes about their normal routines - people go to work, go to school, and get busy with their daily chores - although some countries reduce (and don't suspend!) Business and school hours. Then, at the end of the day, when Muslims are called to perform the last prayer of the day, before praying, they make a snack called Iftar . Only after all this can they feed themselves again.

6 - And why so much sacrifice?

Muslims view Ramadan fasting as one of the five pillars of their faith - along with making the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives, witnessing to the faith, saying daily prayers and performing charitable deeds - and all followers of religion should keep it annually.

Fasting during Ramadan is as important as making the pilgrimage to Mecca

It is meant to remind Muslims of human fragility and their dependence on God for their sustenance, as well as to remind them of what it feels like to hunger and thirst - so as to arouse compassion for the needy and the sense of duty. to help the next.

During this time, Muslims should also try to circumvent negative thoughts and emotions - such as anger and jealousy - and avoid mumbling about life, gossiping about others, and restraining their tongues to keep from swearing. Those who feel really engaged can also limit or cut off activities such as watching TV and listening to music altogether, using this time to read or listen to passages from the Quran.

7 - Isn't this celebration too boring?

In fact, instead of viewing Ramadan as a boring celebration - in which people spend the day without eating or drinking anything and praying - for Muslims, this is a time of joy and unity that they spend with their loved ones. In addition, at the end of the festival, there are three days, called Eid al-Fitr, which mark the end of the fast.

It is a time of union and festivities.

Think of Eid as a kind of Christmas, as these days Muslims gather with friends and family for hearty dinners and gift exchanges. So, as with many Christians, who are eagerly awaiting Christmas holidays, so are the followers of Islam.

8 - Basic question ...

If Ramadan is so sacred to Muslims and a period during which followers of Islam must devote themselves to studying the Quran, doing good, helping others etc., why does it seem that attacks by fundamentalists are intensifying in this time?

One thing is one thing, another thing is another thing ...

Simple: Because terrorists are imbeciles and do not represent the majority of Muslims who practice their religion in peace around the world.

* Originally posted on 10/06/2016 and updated on 21/05/2018.