The Sultan of Sokoto and President, Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has declared Monday 6th June the first day in the month of Ramadan. Here’s some important facts about the month and the accompanying fast.
Ramadan is a month of the Islamic calendar. The month is intended to improve morality and character of the faithful. There are more regular mosque visits alongside a personal attempt to work on self-improvement.
Muslims follow a lunar calendar and a moon-sighting methodology that can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart. This years’ Ramadan will start on Monday June 6 and will continue until on or around Thursday July 7.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the hours of daylight, ending the fast at sunset. As well as fasting, the faithfuls undertake extra prayers and worship, as a means to grow closer to Allah and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.
Each day in the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Even a sip of water, coffee or a cigarette can invalidate one’s fast.
The fast is broken as the Prophet Muhammad did around 1,400 years ago, usually with a sip of water and some dates at sunset followed by prayer. At the end of each fast day, Muslims observe Iftaar, which means ‘break fast’, with family and friends and charities organize free meals for the public at mosques and other public spaces.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
The faithful spend the month of Ramadan in mosques for evening prayers known as “taraweeh,” while free time during the day is often spent reading the Quran and listening to religious lectures.
The elderly, pregnant women and diabetes patients are exempt from fasting in Ramadan. Children are also not expected to fast, although they do occasionally join parents on ‘half-fasts’. Athletes are sometimes also given a pass, such as Muslim players at the World Cup last year. But such exemption is a personal choice.
The end of Ramadan will be celebrated with a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr. This year’s Eid el Fitr is expected to hold around July 7th. The celebration will have the faithfuls gather together at the mosque for a prayer, before spending the day with family or friends and wishing one another ‘Eid Mubarak’, or ‘Blessed Eid’