What is Ramadan?

Ramadan Mubarak to all those celebrating- yes, you can say this to your Muslim friends, they would greatly appreciate it.

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Ramadan Mubarak to all those celebrating – yes, you can say this to your Muslim friends, they would greatly appreciate it.

Ramadan, “the month of not even water”, is upon us. And yes, we can’t even drink water. But no, we don’t fast for a month straight.

During the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset but, it is not just about fasting. It is also a month of self-reflection and becoming closer to God through the means of prayer, self-discipline and spirituality.

I often get asked the dos and don’ts from my friends and if there is anything they can do to help, so here are some other tips to help support those fasting around you:

  1. Your friends will be tired. We have to wake up in the middle of the night to eat for the day ahead. Doing this consistently leads to exhaustion, so cut your friends some slack if they pass on some things you would normally do together.
  2. We do not mind if you eat in front of us. Really, it won’t make us hungry, and we don’t find it disrespectful. It would be unfair to not allow you to eat in front of us.
  3. If you see someone eating during this month, its probably best not to ask them why. They may be exempt for medical reasons or menstruation and most of the time they do want to fast but cannot. Asking why they aren’t fasting may cause them to be upset or uncomfortable. Just keep in mind those that can fast, will fast.
  4. The dates of the month dependent on the moon. When you ask us when it starts and finishes, we won’t know until the day before. So, forgive us if we have to be flexible with plans to accommodate for this.
  5. You can join us for iftaar. I have many friends asking me if they have to be Muslim to join me when breaking my fast, which isn’t the case. In fact, if we are not around family during this time, we would love some company when breaking our fast. However, don’t be so insensitive as to rely on them to cook all the food. Either offer to help out or bring a dish with you!
  6. There are questions and comments we hear a lot that can be insensitive. It’s probably best to avoid phrases like “I need to lose weight, I should fast with you”. That isn’t the aim nor the result of Ramadan­ and we in fact end up gaining weight. To make the month about weight is not it. Try to avoid these. And although we’d rather you ask than assume, google is also available to all. Questions like “how do you do it, I wouldn’t be able to”, we find quite silly as there is prep we do for this.
  7. A lot of people may abstain from certain things they normally do like not listening to music or watching films and shows during the month. It is important to respect this and try to not bring the things they are avoiding around them.

There will also be some common terms you hear being used during Ramadan. Here are the most Ramadan popular terms and their meanings:

Ramadan Mubarak/Kareem: Both phrases are different ways of saying Happy Ramadan essentially and you can say this to all those celebrating

Iftaar: The name of the evening meal when our fast is broken.

Suhoor: The early morning meal before sunrise where we eat and drink to ensure we aren’t hungry or thirsty during the day.

Taraweeh: The night prayers that follow iftaar, these last an average of an hour and are usually performed at the mosque but can be completed at home too.

Sunnah: The traditions and practices of prophet Muhammad pbuh which are a model for us Muslims to follow.

Eid: The celebration marking the end of Ramadan. Most of your Muslim friends will take the day off work and school to attend Eid prayers and celebrate with family. Eid Mubarak is the phrase used to wish those celebrating.


Ian Danton
1pm on 28 Apr 22 Ramadan Mubarak Sarah! Thank you so much for sharing. Incredibly helpful to know.
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