Muslims account for 1.6 billion of our global neighbors. Here are some things you should know about Islam’s holiest month.
1. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Because it’s based on the lunar calendar, the beginning and end dates vary from year to year.
2. The Qur’an claims that it was during the month of Ramadan that Mohammed received his revelation from Allah.
3. The Qur’an claims, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”
4. Fasting during Ramadan, known as “sawm,” is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the basic religious duties for Muslims. The other four pillars are Shahadah (declaring there is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger); Salat (ritual prayer five times a day); Zakat (compulsory charity for the poor, assessed at 2.5 percent of capital assets); and the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime if he or she is able; the hajj takes place during the last ten days of the 12th lunar month).
5. Fasting during Ramadan begins 20 minutes before dawn (fajr) and ends at sundown (maghrib).
6. The day’s fast is considered invalidated if the Muslim participates in any of the following activities from sunrise to sundown: eating or drinking, sexual activity, telling lies “about Allah and/or His Messenger,” immersing the entire head in water, deliberate inhalation of smoke, taking injections whereby nourishing liquids reach the stomach, deliberate vomiting, intentionally passing an object through the throat or any other natural opening (including chewing gum).