June 5 marked the beginning of Ramadan for Muslims around the world. Learn more about what it means to observe Ramadan and how you can be supportive of those observing the holiday.
How many people practice Islam? Well, let’s take a look at the numbers.
There are approximately 7 billion people in the world. Of that, 1.6 billion (22 percent) are Muslim and a majority will be observing Ramadan for the next month.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. Muslims believe during this month God revealed the first verses of the Quran (Islam’s sacred text) to Mohammed (the Prophet).
During this month Muslims fast every day from sunrise to sunset. But it’s much more than just fasting. It’s a time of spiritual discipline, a time where one can focus on his/her relationship with God, do extra prayers, study the Quran, and give to the needy.
At the end of Ramadan (this year it is July 5), there is a huge celebration called Eid al-Fitr, or “the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast”. Everyone gathers for a big meal with family and friends, exchanges presents, and have fun.
To learn more about Ramadan, please watch this video below.
Perhaps you are not Muslim, but what to be respectful of those who are observing Ramadan. Here are some quick tips:
- In the United States, you can still eat in front of them and carry on business as usual, but don’t try to schedule any meetings during breakfast, lunch, or dinner if possible. Don’t be upset if someone chooses not to eat or drink. And don’t mind the growling stomachs!
- In some Muslim countries, it is against the law to eat and drink in public during the day in the month of Ramadan (even if you’re not Muslim).
- Still invite Muslims for coffee or for other outings. They won’t eat or drink, but still enjoy the company. However, they may not sit or stand very close. You try fasting and stand next to someone eating a big sandwich or slurping a delicious frappuccino. You wouldn’t want to stand close either!
- Iftar is the word for the meal to break the fast at sundown throughout Ramadan. Others are more than welcome to join! So if you want to, that is no problem.
- If you want to wish someone a happy Ramadan, you can say “Ramadan Mubarak”. It means Happy Ramadan.
What does Ramadan mean to you? Is this your first time observing Ramadan away from home? We would love to hear your experiences. Please comment below or submit by visiting www.isvmag.com/submitstory. Any questions please email Carrie Circosta, Editor in Chief at firstname.lastname@example.org We can share your Ramadan experiences on our website!