What Is Ramadan?
Ramadan is considered the most holy month by Muslims worldwide. It takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This calendar follows the lunar system, so the dates of Ramadan vary each year, usually moving back a week or so each year on the western calendar.
In order to observe Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunup until sundown. During daylight hours, they do not eat or drink anything. This is a very special, spiritual time for most Muslims. In addition to fasting, they spend time reading the Qur’an (Islam’s holy book), praying, and helping those less fortunate in their communities.
Ramadan is a time to cleanse oneself from worldly things and focus completely on one’s faith. Muslims refrain from listening to music, using bad language, and smoking. In many public places in Oman, recordings of the Qur’an take the place of background music, which can make something as simple as buying snacks at the supermarket a cultural experience.
What Is Ramadan Like For Muslims?
Imagine having Christmas every day for an entire month. That’s the way Muslims anticipate the month of Ramadan. It is a joyful time of spiritual devotion and family connection. Many Muslims consider Ramadan to be their favorite time of year.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith. The other four are: taking a pilgrimage to Mecca, giving money to the poor, saying the Shahadah (the Muslim profession of faith), and praying five times a day. Because Ramadan holds such an important place in the Muslim religion, it is also an important month in Oman.
All Muslims in Oman observe Ramadan except young children, pregnant or nursing mothers, soldiers on duty, those traveling, and those with medical conditions that prevent them from fasting. Those who cannot fast during Ramadan will usually try to make up the days later in the year, as they are able.
Children start fasting at different ages. Some families will allow children to fast a few hours a day to get used to the practice before committing to a full day. Usually the child decides when he/she wants to begin fasting. By adolescence, children will be required to fast like the adults.