Who celebrates Ramadan?
Ramadan is the holy month of fasting and prayer in the Muslim tradition. This means that almost 2 billion people will observe the fast this year: Islam, as the world’s second religion, brings together about 25% of the world’s population.
This year, Ramadan begins on March 22 or 23 and will last until about April 21. The coincidence of the dates is related to the lunar calendar of Islam: the lunar year is shorter than the solar one, and each year the date of Ramadan moves 10 or 11 days closer to the beginning of the year.
Thus, within 7 years, in 2030, Ramadan will be celebrated twice: at the beginning of the year (approximately from January 5) and at the end (approximately from December 25).
The exact date of the beginning of the fast in each country of the Islamic world is usually determined by the religious authorities, and it will finally be known at the last moment, that is, the day of the beginning of Ramadan.
In different countries of the Muslim world the word Ramadan is pronounced differently. Thus, according to Persian tradition, the name of the holy month is pronounced “Ramadan” in Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and India, and “Romzan” in Bangladesh. In the Russian Federation, “Ramadan” is also pronounced in Tatarstan and Bashkiria, although the Arabic phonetic form with “d” is now also used.
Why celebrate Ramadan?
Muslims believe that all scriptures were revealed to the prophets during the month of Ramadan: Abraham’s scrolls, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel, and the final revelation, the Qur’an. The Prophet Muhammad is believed to have received the first Qur’anic revelation from him on Laylat al-Qadr, one of the five odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan, after days of persistent prayer and solitude.
Although Muslims were first commanded to fast in the second year of the Hijra (i.e. AD 624), many believe that the practice of fasting is not an innovation, but has always been necessary for believers to reach taqwa, the fear of God. Pre-Islamic pagans in Mecca are believed to have fasted on the tenth day of Muharram to atone for their sins and avoid drought. Other scholars hold that the very observance of Ramadan can be traced back to the observance of strict discipline in the early Syriac churches. This claim is disputed by some Muslim scholars.
What is Ramadan?
The Ramadan fast consists of giving up food and water and refraining from doing so from sunrise to sunset. The fast lasts the whole month and ends with Eid-el-Fitr or -in the tradition of some countries and regions- Uraza-Bairam.
In the Russian Federation, this holiday is officially a non-working day in republics with a large Muslim population. Among these regions are Adygea, Bashkortostan, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Tatarstan and Chechnya.
The Ramadan fast is one of the most observed principles of Islam: according to surveys, it is practiced by between 70 and 80% of Muslims. Fasting is obligatory for all Muslims, men and women, after puberty. In some countries, parents encourage their children to fast for half a day from the age of ten to get them used to fasting.
Eating during Ramadan
The first meal of the day, suhur, must be completed before dawn. After the day’s fast, comes sunset and the evening prayer, ifrat, the second and last meal.
Planning the morning and evening menu is a special part of Ramadan for the fasting. Although culinary traditions differ from country to country, the general principles remain the same: eat nutritious food in the morning, but not heavy, and include nuts, meat and vegetables in the evening.
For Suhoor, bean-based dishes are popular, such as “ful Ramadan” in Egypt, brik with egg in some Maghreb countries, bolani (Afghan flatbread stuffed with roasted potato), fruit salads and porridge. Traditionally, for the evening iftar, the table includes dates, shorba (lentil soup, popular in the Middle East) and kima samosa, a delicacy among Indian Muslims: crispy fritters with a fragrant filling of minced mutton with ginger, chili, mint and garam masala. There is also lamb halim and meat skewers.
What else should a fasting person do?
During Ramadan the believer should behave honorably, improve himself and do good deeds for his relatives and neighbors. You have to help the disadvantaged and one of the good deeds is to feed the fasting people after sunset.
Who can be exempt from fasting?
Exempted from the observance of Ramadan are pregnant and lactating women, those who have not reached puberty, the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases. And by diseases is meant not only those associated with a strict diet during fasting, but also mental disorders. It is also possible to eat and drink during Ramadan if you are on a long journey. In some of these cases, the believer will have to make up all the days of Ramadan that he has missed at a later time, after Ramadan is over.
Ramadan in European countries
In European countries, Ramadan is observed by many Muslim communities. In the UK, around 6.5% of the population is Muslim, according to the latest 2021 census. Ramadan for British Muslims will begin on Wednesday 22 March.
Believers in France and Spain will begin the holy fast on the same day. The French are still debating how to set the date of the fast: on the one hand, there are astronomical calculations that clearly predict the phases of the moon. On the other, there is a tradition of observing the lunar month with the naked eye, and its appearance in the sky at the beginning of Ramadan marks the beginning of fasting. The Council of National Muslim Federations (FFAICA, GMP, MF and RMF), which meets in the Grand Mosque of Paris, considers it conciliatory that both methods complement each other. For this reason, in France the start date of Ramadan is always known in advance. In France, the number of practitioners of Islam is estimated at about 3.5 million. However, the size of the MAGRIB community is much larger.
In Spain, where there is a historical link with the Muslim world since the Reconquest, there are currently more than two million Muslim believers. The largest communities are found in Catalonia and Andalusia.
Ramadan in the Russian Federation
In Russia, according to some estimates, Muslims make up about 10% of the population. Traditional Muslims represent the majority of the population in seven entities: Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Bashkortostan, and Tatarstan. However, only a small part of these national communities adhere to basic religious tenets (only 42% according to the 2021 survey).
For Russian Muslims, Ramadan begins on March 21 and ends on April 20 in the evening.
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