Ramadan

There are many ways in which those who practice Islam celebrate their faith, and one of the most prominent is the month of Ramadan. It comes with many rituals and beliefs behind it, just as any major religious period does. It is a time of practicing restraint and focusing on spiritual devotion.

The lunar month of Ramadan is considered the holiest month of the Islamic calendar.  Since the Islamic calendar consists of around 354 days, Ramadan appears eleven days earlier on the Gregorian calendar each year.  Therefore this event can occur at any time during the year, and it takes thirty-three years to complete a full cycle through all seasons.  This year Ramadan is set to begin on May 16, 2018.  This date corresponds with the traditional beginning of the month, the sighting of the crescent moon in the night sky.

There are several reasons why Ramadan is considered to be the holiest of months.   Most importantly, it is believed that the Islamic holy text, the Quran, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during this month.  This event is celebrated on the night of Laylat al-Qadr, The Night of Power, traditionally the 27th night of Ramadan.  Many mosques are open all night as Muslims pray, recite the Quran, and meditate.

During the thirty days of Ramadan, all healthy Muslims (i.e. not the very young/old, sick, or pregnant) practice fasting from sunup to sundown.  They typically rise before dawn to eat a light breakfast, break the fast with a few dates/water before evening prayers, and eat dinner.  It is very common to invite guests over for dinner during this time.  Young children usually begin participating in partial fasting around the age of seven and gradually increase the intensity of the fast each year until puberty.  Mosques often acknowledge children who are participating in their first complete fasting day. Adults who do not fast will often feed a poor person for every day of missed fasting.

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate one of their holiest days, Eid al-Fitr, or Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.  This year, it will be held on June 15, 2018.  Children receive gifts, special prayers are offered at mosques, and community celebrations often occur.

While most Muslims celebrate this time of year, it is always a deeply spiritual and special season for all who participate.  Those who are not Muslim need not worry about offending their Muslim colleagues or friends by eating in front of them.  Simply remember to be respectful of their practices and offer to lend a helping hand when appropriate.

Please enjoy a peaceful Ramadan season from the Bellevue University Library staff!

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