Those who do not have the guidance of the Muslim community for one reason or another - or those who are new to the Muslim community and are looking to find out more about Ramadhan – may use the below content as a go-to guide for learning about and understanding the importance of the sacred month of Ramadhan.
The Meaning of Ramadhan
During the ninth month of the Islamic year falls Ramadhan. It is considered the holiest month of the year because it is said that this is when Allah (SWT) first revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The night in which this happened is called Laylat Al-Qadar which translates into English as The Night of Power, and it is believed this night falls during Ramadhan. Some believe that a few verses were revealed on this night, whereas others believe the entire Qur’an was revealed.
In order to mark the occasion of the Qur’an first being revealed, Muslims observe Ramadhan. There is a month-long fast between sunrise and sunset, with the focus of Ramadhan centred around it being a time for self-reflection, cleansing and strengthening your bond with Allah (SWT) as gratitude for sharing the Qur’an.
During Ramadhan, it is not permitted to eat after sunrise or before the sun has set. Breaking the fast is done with dates and is followed by the Iftar meal, and the meal before sunrise is called the Suhoor. These two meals should be nutritious and balanced in order to provide enough energy and nutrients for the day. A copious amount of water should also be consumed during this time in order to nourish the body.
There is more to Ramadhan than just fasting – it’s a highly spiritual time during which you work to become a better Muslim by abstaining for all impure activities and thoughts in order to lament your dedication to Allah. This means between the hours of sunrise and sunset, you should not smoke, argue, swear, fight, gossip or engage in sexual relations.
Who Observes Fasting During Ramadhan?
The religion of Islam is made up of essential pillars which every Muslim must follow, and one of those pillars is Sawm which means fasting during Ramadhan.
Although fasting is a core belief for Muslims, there are exceptions.
Those exempt from fasting during Ramadhan are:
If a woman starts menstruating or a person becomes ill and unable to fast during Ramadhan, they may postpone their fasting for a later date, or they may pay Fidya.
Whilst there are those who are exempt from fasting, they must make a contribution called Fidya. Fidya is a monetary donation made to pay for two meals for a needy person every day. Fidya is typically less than £5 per day, so your donation is likely to cost less than £150. Fidya is only applicable to those who miss the fast for a valid reason i.e. those who are listed as exempt.
If you intentionally break the fast during Ramadhan without a valid reason you must pay Kaffarah. This can either be done by fasting for an additional 60 days per missed day of fasting, or you must make a donation to feed 60x people two meals a day per missed day as fasting.
Breaking the Fast
Ramadhan starts with the sighting of the moon and ends with the sighting of the moon. When the new moon has been observed to signify the beginning of the tenth month (Shawwal), Muslims celebrate the end of the fast with Eid-al-Fitr. This is a three-day celebration which entails friends and families coming together to pray, feast and exchange gifts.
It is customary to wear either new or your best clothes, and it is forbidden to fast during this time.
When is Ramadhan 2021 UK?
The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and the commencement of Ramadhan happens the morning after the crescent moon is sighted. Some Muslims choose to wait until religious leaders have seen the crescent moon with their own eyes before beginning Ramadhan, whilst others use science-based calculations to estimate the start date because weather and geography can sometimes interfere with when/if the crescent moon can be seen.
However the dates are calculated, Ramadhan is observed from the sighting of the moon which means the dates vary by roughly 10 days per year. It is expected that the 2021 Ramadhan UK period will fall on Monday 12th April and come to an end on Tuesday 11th May.
When you choose to observe Ramadhan is down to preference, with some choosing to begin fasting when the moon has been spotted in their local area, but others may choose to start when the moon has been observed above Mecca.
Eid al-Fitr celebrations are due to commence on Wednesday 12th May and conclude on Saturday 15th May.
Much of Islam is rooted in supporting those less fortunate, and as such, there is much charity work in Ramadhan that is undertaken, along with acts of self-reflection and self-improvement.
Allah is the one who provides us with our wealth and our fortune, and He can take it away in equal measure. It is for this reason we are reminded to be compassionate and to be grateful for all He has given us whilst ensuring we do everything we can to suport those less fortunate than ourselves.
Whilst abstinence from food and sinful acts brings us closer to and makes us more empathetic towards our brothers and sisters who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, during Ramadhan, every Muslim must pay Zakat ul-Fitr (also known as Fitrana). This donation is made so that those who are in need may have the means to join in the Eid-al-Fitr celebrations at the end of the fast and enjoy a nourishing meal.
Fitrana must be paid prior to Eid prayers at the end of Ramadhan, with many people choosing the Night of Power because the rewards from Allah are greatest at this time. The value of Fitrana is equal to the amount required for basic household staples like wheat and flour. This changes year on year, but for 2021 it is estimated to be £5.
Every Muslim is required to pay Zakat ul-Fitr and, if a dependent cannot do so, the head of the household must make the donation on their behalf.
Zakat ul-Fitr is not the be confused with Zakat. Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and must be paid by all adult Muslims who surpass the nisab threshold. It can be paid at any time of the year, but many choose to pay it in the last ten days of Ramadhan because it is said the rewards are greater than that of a thousand months. Zakat ul-Fitr must be paid by everyone and must be paid at the end of Ramadhan before the Eid ul-Fitr celebrations, although it can also be paid on the Night of Power.
You may donate both your Zakat and your Fitrana through ILM as we are a registered charity and will use your donations to support those most in need this Ramadhan and throughout the year.