By Sarah Schroeder
Living in Qatar, you get a lot of insider knowledge about Ramadan. You know how many days Ramadan is for, how Muslims fast, what other activities take place during the Holy Month, and which hotel tent has the most promising Iftar and Sohour. But what else do you know? Freshen up and learn something new and unexpected about Ramadan with our Top 10 facts about the Holy Month!
1. The word ‘Ramadan’ means ‘dryness’ or ‘scorching heat’
Did you know the literal meaning of ‘Ramadan’? The word comes from the Arabic root ‘ramida’, or ‘ar-ramad’, which mean ‘scorching heat’ or ‘dryness’. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar year and is the most sacred month of the year, where spiritual rewards from prayers and other rituals are doubled.
Muslims believe that with the beginning of Ramadan the doors to Heaven open and the doors to Hell close. For this Holy Month, Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset every day, give to charity, help others, and expand their knowledge – reading and studying the Qur'an. These practices strengthen the relationship to Allah, help us to think of those less fortunate and hungry, and build spirituality. Ramadan concludes with Eid Al Fitr, celebrating the end of the fast.
2. Want to know when Ramadan starts each year? Look to the moon!
Every year there’s much debate over when Ramadan will start. You might wonder how this is possible – is the time not fixed? It is indeed! It all depends on the sighting of the new moon.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar year, and the Islamic lunar calendar is not fixed to a specific amount of days, but instead reflects the cycles of the moon. While there are 12 months in the Gregorian calendar, there are just slightly more than 12 moon cycles in the Islamic lunar calendar. That’s why the start of Ramadan shifts back roughly 10 days each year.
The day on which Ramadan starts all depends on the moon. This year, the crescent moon, or ‘hilal’, was spotted on May 26, 2017, which means the first day of fasting was the 27th.
(Photo for illustrative purposes only. Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images)
3. Ramadan-like festivities encompass pre-Islamic traditions
Before Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), ancient Arabian and African people in the region observed the month of Ramadan with similar rituals. On the 10th day of the ninth month (Ramadan) tribes, including the Prophet’s tribe Quraysh, even used to fast. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) encouraged all Muslims to fast on this day and then for the whole month.
4. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had his first revelation during the month of Ramadan
How did Ramadan start? The first chapters of the Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by Allah during the month of Ramadan. He then made it obligatory for Muslims to observe Ramadan through fasting, acts of charity, and reading of the Qur’an. This year 2017 marks the 1438th Hijri calendar year for Muslims.
5. Ramadan impacts the economy
Ramadan is an extraordinary month, and there’s no doubt you already know that. But do you know that it has a significant effect on the economy in Muslim countries? It would be hard to imagine fasting having no impact at all. A month of deflations is commonly the result, and prices go down as many shops, services, and other retail outlets have special Ramadan promotions throughout the Holy Month.
6. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) broke his fast with fresh dates
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preferred to break his fast with fresh dates. It activates your metabolism before you can dig into your first real meal of the day. Have you ever tried fresh dates? They’re amazing! Not to mention their unbelievable health benefits. (Stay tuned for another ILQ feature on just that!)
7. Egypt changes the clocks
The number of hours Muslims fast depends on the time of year and the location in the world they find themselves in. It can range between 6 to 22 hours – a very big difference. In some parts of the world you can take Mecca time to avoid long day-time hours. However, in Egypt they change the clocks for one month! Turning back time by one hour means shorter days, and longer nights to re-energize. Neat!
8. No gossip please!
As Ramadan is a time to cleanse one’s mind and body and gain spirituality, both swearing and gossiping is not allowed. Ramadan can work as a re-set button for all bad habits!
9. Ramadan contains the holiest night of the year
Although no one knows for certain on which day the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the holiest night of the year is known to be in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Prayers, spirituality, and seeking knowledge are weighed more during this time than at any other time throughout the year. This is a good time to ask for forgiveness!
10. Qatar has an official site for Ramadan!
Yes, you read that right – and it’s called Ramadan.qa! Brought to you by the Qatar Tourism Authority in partnership with I Love Qatar, and sponsored by Maserati, Ramadan.qa has everything from cultural information for those who want to learn more about the Holy Month, to a comprehensive Ramadan calendar with prayer timings and an iftar countdown clock, Iftar and Sohour promotions, and family-friendly activities and events. If there’s something you want to know about the Holy Month, you’ll find it all at your fingertips on the nation’s top site for Ramadan in Qatar!
For us at ILQ, Ramadan is about learning as well. From the community, our friends and family, the ILQ team, from Islam and of course from you! How many of these unexpected facts did you know? Did we leave out a fun or interesting fact? Share your Ramadan facts with us and let us know about your Holy Month experiences in the comments below. You know it keeps us going!
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