What is Ramadan in Islam?


Hello, my name is Nadir, I am an intake worker at the food hamper program, and for my first blog post I will talk a little bit about the holy month of Ramadan which has just finished.

Waterloo Region is a growing part of Ontario, and has always been a place where different people from different parts of the world come together, to live, to work and build a better life. These people bring their ideas, cultures and spirituality with them to their new home. We have always had strong Mennonite roots since the early days, but to that have been added different denominations of Christianity, and other religions, including, but not limited to Islam.

Today, living in the Region, many of your neighbours in the region are Muslims, and for them, Ramadan is an important time of year. For Muslims this is because the Holy Quran (The Muslim’s Holy Book) was revealed by Allah (God) to the Prophet Mohammad over the course of one month.  Ramadan commemorates this and starts and ends according to the moon sighting, which is what Muslims base their calendar on.


Ramadan  comes in the ninth month of Islamic calendar, it’s the month of fasting, and also it’s the holiest period for the Islamic faith.  For the many practicing Muslims in Waterloo Region Ramadan just came to a close, this last Friday.

In the month of Ramadan a fast is held from sunrise to sunset, and everyday during this month Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast until the month is finished.

This means you may not eat, drink or smoke during the daylight hours. For married adults, it also includes a ban on marital relations during the hours of fasting. The fasting person is expected to do his best to practice self control and discipline, not to get angry easy, avoid using harsh language or insults and to tolerate, forgive and respect others. Young children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and sick people are not expected to fast because this would be an unreasonable and unhealthy burden on them.

Since they must fast during the daylight hours, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world get up before dawn to eat.  After their predawn breakfast, they then perform the fajr or (Sobh) prayer and then fast until the fourth prayer of the day, Maghrib, which is when the sun has set. After this they break their fast and this meal is called Iftar and after it you may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set until the next morning’s fajr prayer call. Then the process starts all over.

The act of fasting is to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also allows Muslims to practice self discipline, self control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate. Before Ramadan ends Muslim must give Zakat which is an Arabic word that signifies charity to needy people.  This offering of money or other aid is often given to local charities or to help people elsewhere in the world who are suffering.  This year, I have heard many people talking about making donations to help those displaced by the recent flooding in Pakistan.

After the end of Ramadan, traditionally there will be a very festive and joyous holiday known as Eid, the Festival of Breaking the Fast. It starts with prayers called (Salaat ulEid) and Muslims around the world will gather at their places of worship to perform the prayers. Then after the prayers Muslims greet each other by saying Eid Mubarak or (Happy Eid) much like most people in North America or Europe will great wish each other seasons greetings or Merry Christmas in December.

Most Islamic countries celebrate Eid-ul fiter for three full days. Children are often rewarded with gifts, money and sweets and most people will wear new clothes. Also during the Eid festival people will visit relatives and friends, usually younger people visit elders first as a sign of respect.

The month of Ramadan as well as other Muslim religious holidays such as Eid al-Adha have a big impact to our program. Typically these are times when the local community expresses its ongoing concern for those less fortunate by making donations to our program and especially through donations of Halal meat, which I will speak about in a later blog post.

On behalf of all the staff at the Emergency Food Hampers I would like to thank all of our kind donors who donate to our program, without their contribution and help we won’t be able to provide enough food to our less fortunate community members of our Region.

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2 Responses to “What is Ramadan in Islam?”

  1. Christine Says:

    Thanks Nadir – I learned a lot from reading your post, and appreciate you sharing.

  2. Nadir Says:

    You’re welcome Christine; I am glad you liked my first blog post.

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