Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims.
During this month, the Islamic Holy Book, the Qur’an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in a night called Laylat-ul -Qadr. This revelation is believed to fall within the last 10 nights of the month.
Ramadan is also known to many as the month of fasting, where Muslims around the world dry fast from sunrise to sunset. During this month, Muslims also abstain from any habits, such as gossiping, swearing and smoking.
But when is Ramadan in 2023 and what are the traditions behind it? Here’s what you need to know.
When is Ramadan 2023?
The Islamic calendar follows the phases of the moon. The months start with the first crescent of a new moon, and the new day after sunset. Because of this, the Islamic calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar by 10 to 11 days, so Islamic months travel throughout the seasons.
This year, Ramadan is predicted to start on 22 March 2023, however, this could be subject to change, depending on the sighting of the moon.
This Islamic holy month lasts between 29-30 days and the end of Ramadan is always marked by Eid al-Fitr. This year, the fasting season is predicted to end on Friday 21 April 2023, but this could also change depending on the sighting of the moon.
Fasting is one of the five pillars in Islam, which are aspects every Muslim must fulfil to form the foundation of their life and faith. The five pillars are Declaration of Faith (Shahada), Prayers (Salah), Charity (Zakat), Fasting (Sawm) and Pilgrimage (Hajj).
How long is one fast?
As the dates of Ramadan change throughout the year, the times when fasting begins and ends differ too. Muslims fast during the hours of sunlight, so in winter fasts are shorter than in summer.
Many Muslims will eat a large meal before closing their fast at sunrise, also known as suhoor, sehri, or imsak, before the first prayer of the day called Fajr. When it’s just after sunset, Muslims will open their fast, also known as iftar, or iftari, and pray the fourth prayer of the day, Maghrib, which marks dusk.
Times of sehri and iftar differ across cities, so it’s important to check what time fasts close and open in your city.
What are Ramadan fasting rules?
The most common rule of Ramadan is no eating or drinking during sunlight hours. However, there are some exemptions. You can be exempt from this rule if you are:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Ill or on medication
- Travelling long distance (over 48 miles)
As Ramadan is a holy month, Muslims are expected to put more effort into the religious and spiritual aspects of Islam and refrain from violence, anger, and greed.
In accordance to the rules of Ramadan, nothing can be consumed during sunlight hours. That means people are not allowed to smoke or chew gum. Any sexual activity during sunlight hours are also not allowed. However, you can brush your teeth, shower and rinse your mouth as long as no water is swallowed.
Traditions of Ramadan
Despite its outward disciplinary nature, Ramadan is a month of joy and is often a time where communities get together to socialise over food after sunset. Many families hold gatherings and neighbours often share food with friends and family.
Ramadan is not a month of atonement but rather a time to practice self-restraint and a time to reflect on your personal stance on religion. It is also a month to practise good deeds, and to help people in need. Many Muslims spend this time deep in their faith, by reading the whole Qur’an, and attending additional services in Mosques.
It is also traditional for Muslims to open their fast with dates, as that is said what the Prophet Muhammad did, however, this is not a mandatory rule and many people open their fast with water, sweetened milk, a pinch of salt or apricots.
There are a few holy dates throughout the month, as this is the month Muslims believe the Quran was revealed. This night is referred to as Laylat-ul-Qadr meaning The Night of Power, and many Muslims spend the night in prayer.
When is Eid al-Fitr?
To mark the end of the holy month, there is a three-day celebration known as Eid al-Fitr, which translates to “feast of breaking fast” where Muslims come together to give their thanks to God for giving them the strength for Ramadan, and celebrate by socialising with their friends and family throughout the day.
This year, Eid al-Fitr is expected to fall on the evening of 21 April until the evening of 22 April 2023.
Muslims adorn themselves in their finest clothes, and prepare special meals whilst spending time with their loved ones. Fasting is forbidden on this day as it’s a day of celebration.