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The Ramadan Fast, A Fourth Pillar Of Islam

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Friday, March 24, 2023 marked the beginning of Ramadan.  For the entire Muslim community, it is the beginning of a period of piety, charity and frugality. The beginning of Ramadan, a month dedicated to prayers and charity, is determined by the appearance of the first crescent moon, as the Muslim calendar is lunar. Throughout this period, believers observe a strict fast. They abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset. Traditionally, families gather at sunset to break the fast together during Ramadan. Muslims are asked to pay alms for the poor, the zakat el-Fitr.

During this special time, the fast-breaking meals are also an opportunity to get together with friends and family. The pre-dawn breakfast, or sahur, usually takes place at 4 a.m. before the first prayer of the day, the fajr,” National Geographic magazine details on its website. The evening meal, iftar, can begin once the sunset prayer, Maghreb, is over […].”

It is a time during which people of the Islamic faith introspect and question themselves. Purification of the soul and spirituality are the two objectives of Muslims so that they can better live the intrinsic values of Islam. The essence of Ramadan is to focus more on prayer and self-improvement.

Ramadan is first and foremost the name of a month in the Islamic lunar calendar, the ninth month, when Muslims believe that God began to reveal, in the year 609, what would become their sacred text, the Quran. Ramadan is the only month named in the Qur’an and is the most holy month for Muslims. The fasting of Ramadan, the fourth pillar of Islam, takes place in the ninth month of the Hegira calendar (Islamic lunar calendar). “It is during this month, in 610, that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed to reveal the Qur’an to him and announce that God had chosen him to be his messenger. The Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar (unlike the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar): each month begins after the new moon, when the first crescent becomes visible.

The end of Ramadan will then be marked by the arrival of the new moon which will begin the celebration of Eid el-Fitr, the “feast of the breaking of the fast”.

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