With Ramadan expected to begin tomorrow, here are a few things you may not know about the event…

Q: What is Ramadan?

A: The holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It was during this month that the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad as guidance for mankind and is one of the most significant months for Muslims. The original meaning of the word Ramadan was “scorching heat”.

During Ramadan fasting is observed from dawn until sunset. During this time, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking (including water), smoking, sexual relations or engaging in any acts deemed to be ill-natured or excessive.

Q: When is Ramadan?

A: Ramadan is based on the Islamic lunar calendar and start and finish times are dependent on the sighting of the new moon. This year it’s expected to start on Wednesday 16th May.

Ramadan ends after 29 or 30 days, again depending on the sighting of the new moon. This year it’s expected to end the evening of Friday 15th June.

Q: Why do Muslims fast?

A: Fasting is intended to help teach self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity. It also reminds them of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well. It is a time for contemplation on their faith by actively increasing in worship, prayer and reciting the Qur’an. There is a focus on purifying the body and mind, spirituality, healing and charity.

Q: What about people with health issues?

A: There are exemptions for those who are seriously ill or whose health would be at risk through fasting such as the elderly and the infirm.

For further information take a look at the NHS website and online.

Q: How can non-Muslim co-workers and friends help someone who is fasting?

A: Employers, co-workers and teachers can help by understanding the significance of Ramadan, and by showing a willingness to make minor allowances for its physical demands. It is also very important that Muslim workers and students be given time to attend Eid prayers at the end of Ramadan.

Hospital workers should be aware that injections and oral medications might break the fast. Patients should be given the opportunity to decide whether or not their condition exempts them from fasting.

Q: What happens after Ramadan?

A: The end of Ramadan is marked by the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast. It occurs on the first day of the next lunar month; Shawwal, and begins with special prayers at the mosque, the gathering of families and friends and celebratory meals. It is also a special time to ask for forgiveness and make amends.