So What Exactly Is Ramadan?

A 3-minute summary of the month celebrated by millions

Noran Azmy

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Photo by Kai on Unsplash

1. What is Ramadan? Ramadan is the 9th month of the hijri calendar — a lunar calendar observed by Muslims all over the world. It’s the equivalent of September in our standard Gregorian calendar.

A Muslim year consists of 12 months. Each month starts when the moon is in its crescent phase, and lasts 29 or 30 days until the next crescent moon is observed. This makes the lunar year at 10 or 11 days shorter than our standard 365-day year.

Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash: The different phases of the moon from full moon to crescent

2. When is Ramadan? Because the Muslim year is shorter than the Gregorian year, Ramadan starts roughly 10 or 11 days earlier each Gregorian year. For example, in 2021, the start of Ramadan coincided with April 12th. In 2022, it’s expected to start April 2nd.

3. Why is Ramadan special? Muslims consider Ramadan a holy month because it was the month in which the Quran was first revealed to prophet Muhammad. For this reason, it’s a month dedicated to exceptional focus on worship, reflection, and connection with God and the community.

Ramadan is about self-evaluation and intentionality. It’s that time of the year to examine your life, set your direction, and renew your intentions. It’s a time to try to break bad habits or build good ones, to spend less time on things that are sinful, wasteful, or idle, and more time contributing to the betterment of your life and the lives of others.

4. How does one observe Ramadan? Fasting is the main form of worship in Ramadan, though it serves as part a much larger theme. All Muslims who are of age and capable are instructed to fast each day of the entire month, from dawn to sunset. This means abstaining from any food or drink, smoking, and sexual activity, as well as the less tangible but equally important requirement of upholding the highest standards of integrity. Fasting requires abstaining from dishonesty, gossip, profanity, aggression, and violence.

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Noran Azmy

A software engineer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics, including personal development, productivity, learning, books, politics, and social issues.