Ramadan's Muslim Fasting, Things You Didn't Know

Every year Muslim Nation around the world celebrate the famous fasting month where all Muslims around the world cease eating, drinking, and having sexual relationships from sunrise to sunset for almost 30 days. In case you aren't a Muslim and you are wondering about this yearly habit, we will tell you some facts you probably didn't know about regarding this annual celebration practiced by over one billion of people world wide.



1- Ramadan starts and ends with visual sightings not astronomical calculations:

Muslims start their fasting month based on visual sightings and not by astronomical calculations so what is the difference?.

In fact, the Muslim calendar is based on lunar cycle and not the usual solar timing system used in our normal calendar. Sometimes the new moon is born according to calculations but it can't be seen by visual sighting, this causes a 1 day delay for the lunar month to start according to Muslim practice and so goes with the end of the month where the new moon of the next month is born but not seen. 


2- Ramadan meaning:

The word Ramadan comes from the word (Ramda'a), an Arabic word for the extreme heat and dryness. When old Arabs started naming their months, they named every month according to the main social and atmospheric characters of the month and it happened that Ramadan happened to occur in extremely high temperature and dry season and so it was named after the Ramda'a.


3- Ramadan starts with the night (sunset):

In fact, all lunar months and days start with the night not the day which means if the sunset occurs at 6 pm so the new lunar day has started unlike the usual solar timing where a day starts at 12 am. 

Ramadan in Bosnia

4- Muslims celebrate for 3 days after Ramadan ends:

In case you didn't know, Muslims celebrate (Al-Fitr) feast for 3 days after Ramadan ends. They usually celebrate Al-Fitr by greetings to the neighbors and exchanging baked sugary cookies which they call (Kahk). If you have any Muslim neighbors, you can have a try of tasting these delicious cookies after Ramadan.


5- Muslims tend to give away money and gifts in Ramadan:

A major corner of Islam is (Al-Zakaa), which is an annual give away of a certain percentage of their savings (2.5% of their whole savings) they must give to the poor as a sign of social co-operation. Most of Muslims choose to give their yearly Zakaa in Ramadan so it is a month celebrated by both the poor and the rich by giving away gifts and money to each other.


6- Muslims in Egypt use cannon shoot to acknowledge the sunset:

It is a tradition in Egypt where they use an old cannon shoot to acknowledge the sunset and the start of their daily non fasting period (from sunset to the next sunrise). This tradition started 200 years ago with the start of using canons in modern wars, Egyptians used a cannon to shoot exactly at sunset time to let everyone in Cairo know they can now eat and drink. This habit spread across many neighborhood countries where they started using cannons too to announce the occurrence of sunset. In case you were wondering, Cannon shoots use empty cannon shells that brings out a sound of a bomb and not a true cannon shell.

Classical Ramadan Cannon in Egypt


7- Egyptians celebrate Ramadan by lighting out classic lanterns:

Every year millions of Egyptians gift their kids by classic lanterns made especially for this season and the call it (Fanoos). The Fanoos comes in many shapes and in recent years it started to come out as fashion designs for the current events and celebrities they like the most (This Ramadan you can find Mo Salah's Fanoos for example).

Classical Lanterns (Fanoos)

8- The running dish:

Muslims celebrate Ramadan by gifting out their neighbors with a dish of dessert of food of what they eat, the inspiring thing here is that whenever you get a dish from your neighbor you never give it back empty. Meaning you will have to make another dessert or food to gift it back to your neighbors and so on, so there would be a running dish all over any neighborhood full of dessert coming out from each house to another.


9- Fasting hours:

In certain countries like northern hemisphere countries (Sweden or Norway), fasting ours could go as long as 20 or 22 hours or even more as Sweden for example could go into a continuous 3 months without a night or the reverse. So in these cases it is impossible for Muslims to stay fasting for that long period and so they go fasting according to Mecca's local timing which happens these days to be around 16 hours of fasting.


10- Ramadan comes earlier every year:

Lunar year is 11 days shorter than solar year so every year Ramadan comes 11 days earlier than previous year. This causes Ramadan to shift during 4 seasons during a life time, so if you are a practicing Muslim it could happen to have Ramadan in winter during your childhood and then it comes in summer during your adulthood and so on.


11- Fasting is not just about food and drink:

Muslims practice fasting on a spiritual level more than just the physical level. They cease all the bad behavior and cursing during their fasting period and try to practice more of good behaviors like forgiving each other and giving out charity.


12- Free meals at sunset:

It is very common to see normal people giving away free meals at sunset every day at Ramadan to help out the poor in the streets to have their fasting-break meal. So even if you don't have money to buy food and you want to practice fasting there will be someone who helps you out with food and money.


13- Lots and lots of TV shows:

As a yearly season, Muslims gather around TV for their fasting-break meal where all TV production companies target these audience with a lot of TV shows making use of the fact that every one is watching TV at this time. There is a yearly competition between media production companies to take advantage of this season and millions of dollars are spent every year for this season's media and advertising production. 

14- So what about night?

Even after sunset, Muslims start another for of religious practicing through going to mosques to start their prayers especially a prayer called (Taraweeh). Taraweeh prayers is a prayer practiced by Muslims 1 hour after the sunset where thousands go out to pray together for 1-2 hours reading Muslims holy book (Quoran) for one month.

Taraweeh Prayers

These are not the only facts about Ramadan but the true fact about this month is that it is full of generosity and social celebration where all Muslims all over the world unite in one happy season to get closer to god by doing all the charity they could and bringing joy to the poor.

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