Celebrating Ramadan the holiest month in the Islamic Calendar!
Ramadan, or Ramzan, is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. It’s a month of fasting observed by the diverse Muslim communities in Australia and around the world.
The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamad representing the Australian National Imams Council announced the commencement of Ramadan 1442 fasting starting on Tuesday 13 April 2021 for Australia.
The start and end dates are calculated subject to the visibility of the new moon, a practice that has continued since ancient times.
The sighting of the crescent moon is instrumental, locally and globally, and recorded in the Islamic calendar.
Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority countries depend on the testimonies of local moon sighters to set the start date each year.
Other countries with significant Muslim populations, including Australia, have their own moon sightings.
The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamad said:
“May Allah bless this holy month for you, your family, the Australian Muslim Community, and the entire Muslim world and may your worship and fasting be accepted this year. Ameen.”
Why is Ramadan the holiest month in the Islamic calendar?
Ramadan is the month in the Islamic calendar, in which the first verses of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, were revealed to Prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago by Angel Jibrail.
The holy month of Ramadan is a time for reflection, prayer and absolving oneself of sin.
While the focus of Ramadan is on fasting during the hours of sunrise and sunset, it is also about deepening personal connections with Allah through prayer and worship.
The entire month is an important time for Muslims around the world, however, there is one night that holds extra meaning, and that night is Laylat-al-Qadr one of the last 10 nights of the month and the date usually falls on the 27th night.
On this night, a single good deed brings the blessings of 1,000 months.
This year, Laylat-al-Qadr is expected to fall on Sunday 9 May 2021.
Islamic Calendar Months
First month – Muharram
Second month – Safar
Third month – Rabiʽ al-Awwal
Fourth month – Rabiʽ al-Thani
Fifth month – Jumada al-awwal
Sixth month – Jumada al-Thani
Seventh month – Rajab
Eighth month – Sha’ban
Ninth month – Ramadan
Tenth month – Shawwal
Eleventh month – Dhu al-Qadah
Twelfth month – Dhu al-Hijja
What is the significance of fasting during the month of Ramadan?
Throughout the month of Ramadan Muslims, across the world, will wake up early each day eating one meal just before dawn (suhoor).
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, if physically and financially able to.
The main purpose of the fasts is to devote spiritual energy to God and have a greater consciousness of Allah, or ‘taqwa’.
One of the most basic ideas is to practise a sense of self restraint and detach ourselves from worldly pleasures.
Once the fasting commences, it continues throughout the day through to the sunset prayer called Maghrib.
This is then followed by one meal at sunset (Iftar).
It’s during these times where family and friends greet each other respectfully with ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ and ‘Ramadan Kareem’ and wish each other a blessed and generous month respectively.
What is the significance of Iftar?
Iftar is a feast which people look forward to after the days long restrain and literally means to ‘break’.
At sunset, families gather to break the fast with a meal known as Iftar.
But, before heading for Iftar they break their fast with dates, after which they adjourn for Maghrib prayer – one of the final prayers for the day.
Traditionally, one is supposed to eat dates along with juice, milk or water. It is said that Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with three dates and water.
Iftar meals from around the world range from rich, spicy mutton curries to lovely desserts and cooling sherbets.
Iftar spreads can be lavish.
Muslims in Afghanistan relish traditional soups and onion based meat curries, kebabs and pulao.
Iftar menus in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh include jalebis, haleem, sweetened drinks, parathas, rice preparations, meat curries, fruit salads, shami kebabs, piyajoo, beguni.
In India, Haleem and Harees are some of the much-loved meaty dishes. The Hyderabadi Haleem is very popular across the globe.
Muslims in Kerala and Tamil Nadu break their roza with nonbu kanji, a dish prepared with meat, veggies and rice porridge and, moplah cuisine.
For more information on foods specific to Ramadan click here:
What happens at the end of the month of fasting?
At the end of Ramadan, and on the first day of the tenth month in the Islamic calendar Shawwal, the Muslim community celebrates Eid al-Fitr.
In Arabic, it means ‘festival of breaking the fast’.
The celebratory days of Eid-al-Fitr will begin on Thursday, May 13 this year with the final Iftar happening on the evening of May 12.
Sharing the food with the needy is such an important part of the feast.
The spirit of Zakat or charity has been spoken in the oldest of Islamic scriptures.
It is encouraged to reach out to the needy and poor and make sure that they are also included, especially if it is community gathering.
How has COVID-19 impacted Ramadan?
While mosques were closed last year, they’re open in 2021 with limited numbers of people attending shorter prayer services and people will need to register in advance.
Any child under 10 years old, adults aged 60 and over, and those with COVID-19 symptoms or underlying health conditions should not attend.
Worshippers should bring their own prayer mat and wear face masks, while social distancing will continue to be in place.
To be safe you can always pray from home.
Ramadan is observed in many countries around the world including Australia and New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lebanon, Syria and Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Of course, there are large Muslim populations in the rest of Africa, UK, Europe, US, Canada.
According to the 2016 Australian Census, the combined number of people who self-identified as Muslim in Australia, from all forms of Islam, constituted 604,200 people, or 2.6% of the total Australian population.
Keen to learn more reach or engage the Muslim communities in Australia? Contact our team at [email protected]