The Start of the fast: what is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Qur'an was revealed. Ramadan is the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan in South Africa begins on the 11 August 2010 at sunset and continue for 30 days until the 10 September 2010.

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year and contains no intercalation, Ramadan migrates throughout the seasons.

The Islamic day starts after sunset. Since the new moon is not in the same state at the same time globally, the beginning and ending dates of Ramadan depend on what lunar sightings are received in each respective location. As a result, Ramadan dates vary in different countries, but usually only by a day. This is due to the cycle of the moon.

When one country sees the moon, mainly Saudi Arabia, the moon travels the same path all year round and that same moon seen on the East is then seen traveling towards the West. All the countries around the world see the moon within a 24 hour period once spotted by one country in the East.

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. The month is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. The name came from the time before the Islamic calendar, when the month of Ramadan fell in the summer.

Fasting during this month is often thought figuratively to burn away all sins. Muslims believe that the Qur'an was sent down to the lowest heaven during this month thus being prepared for gradual revelation by angel Gibril (Gabriel) to the Prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open all the month and the gates of Hell would be closed.

The first day of the next month is spent in celebrations and is observed as the 'Festival of Breaking Fast' or `Eid ul-Fitr (Labarang), which also signals the end of the fast period.

To see the Cape Town suhoor & iftaar times (in pdf) click here.

Sources:
Wikipedia
ramadan

Page Created: 11 August 2010