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Ramadan: how the holy month is observed
The holy month of Ramadan is likely to start on Thursday, 23 March 2023 subject to the sighting of the new moon. Zahir Kasmani, an investor in BGF’s London office, shares his experiences of the month.
Ramadan has always been an important time of year for me. Even before I was old enough to fast, I remember the anticipation of sunset with my family and the excitement of sharing a meal with loved ones.
The month of Ramadan is a period of devotion and prayer as Muslims abstain from consuming all food and drink during daylight hours. It is also a chance to spend time with friends and family, giving thanks for all that we have.
It is common for Muslims to celebrate the end of each day’s fast together. These are known as iftar gatherings, which typically include traditional foods and special treats.
Despite the sacrifice of fasting, it is a month that I look forward to every year as I focus on my faith and self-reflection.
Ramadan is determined by the lunar calendar. Thankfully, the days will be shorter this year (March to April) than in recent years. The most challenging years were between 2015 and 2017 when Ramadan fell during the peak of British summertime.
Eid is the celebration that marks the end of the month and is observed globally. On Eid, I would typically attend the mosque in the morning, and spend the evening with friends and family, eating meals and sharing presents.
How is the month of Ramadan observed?
- Daylight fasting, which starts at first light before dawn and finishes at sunset. Observant Muslims abstain from all food and drink, including water, chewing gum and cigarettes.
- Increased prayer and attendance at mosques, which are usually much busier than at other times of year.
- Reflection and contemplation. Ramadan is a time to focus on self-control and self-discipline while growing closer to God.
- Increased charitable giving. Many Muslims choose to support those in need during the holy month.
What is Ramadan?
It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. This is a lunar calendar with either 354 or 355 days in a year, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar of 365 days. Ramadan moves roughly ten days earlier in the Gregorian calendar each year, and in 2023 is expected to take place between 23 March and 22 April.
Ramadan officially begins with the sighting of the new crescent moon. Because visibility of the moon differs around the world, different countries sometimes mark religious holidays on different dates.
Observing the fast is one of five key pillars in Islam. Many or most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims observe the fast, though there are exemptions for children, travellers and those who are in ill health.
If you are observing Ramadan, we wish you a blessed month and a happy Eid from everyone at BGF!
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