Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims across the globe, is often left unexplained to the rest of the world. The word “Ramadan” refers to the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and marks the beginning of a month of fasting. During this 29-30 day month Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking or engaging in sexual intercourse from dawn until dusk. Fasting during this holy time fulfills one of the five pillars of Islam and is considered an obligatory duty to be undertaken by all healthy adult Muslims, whereby the ill, pregnant and travelling are excused.
During the month of Ramadan, fasting Muslims are encouraged to contemplate the blessings of life and to give thanks to their maker for their fortune. Moreover they are reminded of those who suffer through the endurance of willful hunger and thirst. It is perceived as a time to hone ones self-discipline, tolerance, resilience, concentration and most importantly a time to strengthen their spirituality. Like any act of apt devotion, fasting during the month of Ramadan is a confirmation of one’s unquestioning obedience and faith in God (Allah).
While this time is thought of as a spiritual time, the change in daily routine is often helpful in ridding oneself of bad habits. Due to this abstinence practiced during the day Muslims are encouraged to quit smoking, over-eating and over indulging in unhealthy foods. Culturally, the month of Ramadan brings Muslims closer together as they gather with friends and family to break the fast at sunset. As everyone meets together each day at this time, the spirit of community and selflessness is created and a sense of awakening is shared.
Individuals partaking in the month of Ramadan often find themselves to be more spiritually awakened and generally more integrated in to Islamic society. Ramadan is as significant culturally as it is spiritually, much like Christmas for Christians or Hanukkah for Jews. To conclude Ramadan, Muslims celebrate with a four-day festival known as Eid, whereby the whole community gathers to celebrate life through cultural dancing, traditional foods and music.