The word Ramadan derives from the Arabic root R-M-Ḍ (ر-م-ض) "scorching heat", which is the
Classical Arabic verb "ramiḍa (رَمِضَ)" meaning "become intensely hot – become burning; become scorching; be blazing; be glowing".
Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard ˹to distinguish between right and wrong˺. So whoever is present this month, let them fast. But whoever is ill or on a journey, then ˹let them fast˺ an equal number of days ˹after Ramaḍân˺. Allah intends ease for you, not hardship, so that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim the greatness of Allah for guiding you, and perhaps you will be grateful.
Al-Bukhari, Muhmmad initially chose the date of the fast as the day of
Ashura (the 10th day of the 1st month), probably the
JewishYom Kippur. This fast was later replaced with the fast of the 9th month (Ramadan).
Because the Hilāl, or
crescent moon, typically occurs approximately one day after the
new moon, Muslims can usually estimate the beginning of Ramadan; however, many[who?] prefer to confirm the opening of Ramadan by direct visual observation of the crescent.
Qadr Night is considered the holiest night of the year. It is generally believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last ten days of Ramadan; the
Dawoodi Bohra believe that Laylat al-Qadr was the twenty-third night of Ramadan.
The holiday of Eid al-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر), which marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal, the next lunar month, is declared after a crescent
new moon has been sighted or after completion of thirty days of fasting if no sighting of the moon is possible. Eid celebrates the return to a more natural disposition (fitra) of eating, drinking, and
The common practice is to fast from dawn to sunset. The pre-dawn meal before the fast is called the suhur, while the meal at sunset that breaks the fast is called iftar.
Muslims devote more time to prayer and acts of charity, striving to improve their
self-discipline, motivated by hadith: "When Ramadan arrives, the gates of
Paradise are opened and the
gates of hell are locked up and devils are put in chains."
Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and heightened devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of
Islam. The fast (sawm) begins at dawn and ends at sunset. In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking during this time, Muslims abstain from sexual relations and sinful speech and behaviour during Ramadan fasting or month. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to
cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Muslims believe that Ramadan teaches them to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate, thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat). Muslims also believe fasting helps instill compassion for the food-insecure poor.
Exemptions from fasting include those traveling, menstruating, severely ill, pregnant, or breastfeeding. However, Muslims in these categories may still choose to fast, in order to satisfy their spiritual needs, even though it is not recommended by hadith. Those unable to fast are obligated to make up the missed days later.
At sunset, families break the fast with the iftar, traditionally opening the meal by eating
dates to commemorate Muhammad's practice of breaking the fast with three dates. They then adjourn for Maghrib, the fourth of the five required daily
prayers, after which the main meal is served.
Social gatherings, many times in
buffet style, are frequent at iftar. Traditional dishes are often highlighted, including traditional desserts, particularly those made only during Ramadan.[example needed] Water is usually the beverage of choice, but juice and milk are also often available, as are soft drinks and caffeinated beverages.
Middle East, iftar consists of water, juices, dates, salads and appetizers; one or more main dishes; and rich desserts, with dessert considered the most important aspect of the meal. Typical main dishes include lamb stewed with wheat berries, lamb kebabs with grilled vegetables, and roasted chicken served with chickpea-studded rice pilaf. Desserts may include luqaimat,
baklava or kunafeh.
Zakat, often translated as "the poor-rate", is the fixed percentage of income a believer is required to give to the poor; the practice is obligatory as one of the
pillars of Islam. Muslims believe that good deeds are rewarded more handsomely during Ramadan than at any other time of the year; consequently, many Muslims donate a larger portion – or even all – of their yearly zakāt during this month.
Arabic: تراويح) are extra nightly prayers performed during the month of Ramadan. Contrary to popular belief, they are not compulsory.
Recitation of the Quran
Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran, which comprises thirty juz' (sections), over the thirty days of Ramadan. Some Muslims incorporate a recitation of one juz' into each of the thirty tarawih sessions observed during the month.
On the island of
Java, many believers bathe in holy springs to prepare for fasting, a ritual known as Padusan. The city of
Semarang marks the beginning of Ramadan with the Dugderan carnival, which involves parading the
warak ngendog, a horse-dragon hybrid creature allegedly inspired by the
Buraq. In the Chinese-influenced capital city of
Jakarta, firecrackers are widely used to celebrate Ramadan, although they are officially illegal. Towards the end of Ramadan, most employees receive a one-month bonus known as Tunjangan Hari Raya. Certain kinds of food are especially popular during Ramadan, such as large beef or buffalo in
Aceh and snails in
Central Java. The
iftar meal is announced every evening by striking the
bedug, a giant drum, in the mosque.
Common greetings during Ramadan include Ramadan mubarak and Ramadan kareem, which mean (have a) "blessed Ramadan" and "generous Ramadan" respectively.
During Ramadan in the Middle East, a mesaharati beats a drum across a neighbourhood to wake people up to eat the suhoor meal. Similarly in Southeast Asia, the kentonganslit drum is used for the same purpose.
In some countries, on the contrary, the observance of Ramadan has been restricted by governments. In the
USSR, the practice of Ramadan was suppressed by officials. In Albania, Ramadan festivities were banned during the communist period. However, many Albanians continued to fast secretly during this period.
Some countries impose modified work schedules. In the UAE, employees may work no more than six hours per day and thirty-six hours per week.
Kuwait have similar laws.
There are various health effects of fasting in Ramadan. Ramadan fasting is considered safe for healthy individuals; it may pose risks for individuals with certain pre-existing conditions. Most Islamic scholars hold that fasting is not required for those who are ill. Additionally, the elderly and pre-pubertal children are exempt from fasting. Pregnant or lactating women are also exempt from fasting during Ramadan. There are known health risks involved in pregnant women who fast, which include the potential of
induced labour and
There are some health benefits of fasting in Ramadan including increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance. It has also been shown that there is a significant improvement in 10 years coronary heart disease risk score and other cardiovascular risk factors such as lipids profile, systolic blood pressure, weight, BMI and waist circumference in subjects with a previous history of cardiovascular disease. The fasting period is usually associated with modest weight loss, but weight can return afterwards.
In many cultures, it is associated with heavy food and water intake during
Iftar times, which may do more harm than good. Ramadan fasting is safe for healthy people provided that overall food and water intake is adequate but those with medical conditions should seek medical advice if they encounter health problems before or during fasting.
The education departments of
Berlin and the
United Kingdom have tried to discourage students from fasting during Ramadan, as they claim that not eating or drinking can lead to concentration problems and bad grades.
A study on 55 professional Algerian soccer players showed that performance during Ramadan declined significantly for speed, agility, dribbling speed and endurance, and most stayed low 2 weeks after the conclusion of Ramadan.
The length of the dawn to sunset time varies in different parts of the world according to summer or winter solstices of the Sun. Most Muslims fast for eleven to sixteen hours during Ramadan. However, in polar regions, the period between dawn and sunset may exceed twenty-two hours in summer. For example, in 2014, Muslims in Reykjavik, Iceland, and Trondheim, Norway, fasted almost twenty-two hours, while Muslims in Sydney, Australia, fasted for only about eleven hours. In areas characterized by continuous night or day, some Muslims follow the fasting schedule observed in the nearest city that experiences sunrise and sunset, while others follow Mecca time.
Ramadan in Earth orbit
As sunrise and sunset occur sixteen times each a day in low-Earth orbit,
Muslim astronauts in space schedule religious practices around the time zone of the last place on Earth they were on. For example, this means an astronaut from Malaysia launching from the
Kennedy Space Center in Florida would center their fast according to sunrise and sunset times in Cape Canaveral, in Florida's
Eastern Time. This includes times for daily prayers, as well as sunset and sunrise for Ramadan.
Employment during Ramadan
Muslims continue to work during Ramadan; however, in some countries, such as Oman and Lebanon, working hours are shortened. It is often recommended that working Muslims inform their employers if they are fasting, given the potential for the observance to impact performance at work. The extent to which Ramadan observers are protected by
religious accommodation varies by country. Policies putting them at a disadvantage compared to other employees have been met with discrimination claims in the United Kingdom and the United States. An
Arab News article reported that
Saudi Arabian businesses were unhappy with shorter working hours during Ramadan, some reporting a decline in productivity of 35–50%. The Saudi businesses proposed awarding salary bonuses in order to incentivize longer hours. Despite the reduction in productivity, merchants can enjoy higher profit margins in Ramadan due to increase in demand.
^Ibn Abu Hatim, Abdul Rahman. Tafsir Ibn Abu Hatim (in Arabic). Vol. 1. p. 310, Nu. 1648. لَا تَقُولُوا۟ «رَمَضَانُ»، فَإِنَّ رَمَضَانَ اسْمٌ مِنْ أَسْمَاءِ اللَّٰهِ، وَلَٰكِنْ قُولُوا۟ «شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ»
^Faris, Mo'ez Al-Islam E.; Al-Holy, Murad A. (1 April 2014). "Implications of Ramadan intermittent fasting on maternal and fetal health and nutritional status: A review". Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 7 (2): 107–118.
^Shariatpanahi, Z. Vahdat, et al. "Effect of Ramadan fasting on some indices of insulin resistance and components of the metabolic syndrome in healthy male adults." British Journal of Nutrition 100.1 (2008): 147–151.
^Nematy, Mohsen, et al. "Effects of Ramadan fasting on cardiovascular risk factors: a prospective observational study." Nutrition journal 11.1 (2012): 69.