Every year, Muslims around the world celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. The holiday is well-known for a few things, including fasting, lanterns and Eid al-Fitr, the three-day religious feast that marks its end. But there's so much more to know about Ramadan. To help you understand this holiday a little bit better, we've answered the most frequently asked questions about it, from when it starts and ends to why it's so important.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar. According to tradition, the holy book of the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad during Ramadan. Muslims also believe that during this month the gates to heaven are open and the doors to hell are closed. Muslims use the month of Ramadan to focus on their connection to God, reflect on their lives and spend quality time with friends and family.
“What I would love for people to know is that Ramadan is a time of hope and renewal and trying to have a fresh start,” Hina Khan-Mukhtar, a teacher and writer who is on the Board of Directors for the Muslim Community Center East Bay in Northern California told Woman's Day. “It’s really a time of rejuvenation, where it’s like, ‘I'm going to go through this month and I'm really going to turn to God, and ask for forgiveness and ask for blessings,’ and then you come out of it with a lot of hope for starting all over again on a good foot.”
What are the rules of fasting during Ramadan?
During Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset. Everyone is expected to participate, although there are some exceptions for those who are ill, pregnant, nursing or traveling, as well as for young children and the elderly. Drinking liquids, smoking and engaging in sexual activity are all prohibited during the fast as well. In the Islam faith, the fast teaches discipline, sacrifice, mindfulness, reflection and empathy for those who are less fortunate.
When is Ramadan celebrated in 2022?
In 2022, Ramadan begins on April 2 and ends on May 2. Ramadan is a floating holiday that shifts by approximately 10 days each year. For example, in 2023, it will begin on March 22; in 2024, it will begin on March 10 and so on. All that is because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar, which is around 10 days shorter than the solar year. That means Ramadan can take place in any season.
Its official start is subject to the sighting of the first crescent of a new moon, and so it begins at different times around the world. On the evening on May 2, and for the next three days, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, or the "Festival of Breaking the Fast." Eid al-Fitr is celebrated through prayer, gifts and a lavish feast.