What is Ramadan?
You probably know that Muslim people celebrate Ramadan every year. And you may know that during this period, they fast from dawn till dusk. However, you may not fully understand the significance of this period or all other elements that make it such a special time for your friends, colleagues and athletes. In this blog series, Carnegie School of Sport Coaching post-grad student Naadrah Hafeez explains what Ramadan is, what it means for Muslim coaches, and provides some very useful tips for coaches supporting Muslim athletes during this period.
Ramadan is a holy month for 1.8 billion Muslims around the world and is a time to increase worship, mindfulness and charitable acts. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims believe that during this holy month, the gates of hell are closed and the gates of heaven are opened. During this holy month the first verses of the Quran (holy book) were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him); hence the increased recitation of the Quran during this month.
Every year the date changes, as Muslims follow the Hijri Calendar (the Islamic lunar calendar). Ramadan is declared to start a day after the sighting of the new crescent moon. Once the moon has been sighted, Ramadan begins and lasts for 29 or 30 days and ends upon the sighting of the new crescent moon; in which Eid Ul Fitr is celebrated a day after.
From dawn till dusk, Muslims who are able to fast, should abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual activity. As well as ceasing all food and water, Muslims should also refrain from gossiping, swearing and other bad habits. Muslims consume a pre-dawn meal – Suhoor – and a sunset meal upon breaking their fast - Iftar.
Certain groups of people are exempt from fasting; they include:
- Elderly people
- Ill people
- Pregnant and nursing women
- Menstruating women
- Those who are travelling
If they are able to, they can make up their fast at a later date. It is not compulsory for children to fast until they reach puberty, however, some children do try and practice fasting from ages as young as 6 or 7.
This blessed month is a time of giving back. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was the most generous of people and would give even more during Ramadan. As well as other charitable acts, it is obligatory that Muslims give Zakat during Ramadan – this is also one of the five pillars of Islam and consists of giving a monetary value of 2.5% of all capital assets to charity. Muslims believe that the generosity during this month is multiplied.
At the end of this holy month, Muslims celebrate Eid Ul Fitr – The Festival of Breaking the Fast. This is a time of celebration, but also a time in which the positive actions and intentions during Ramadan are carried forward and implemented into the rest of the year and the rest of an individual’s life.
Ramadan is ultimately a time for Muslims to better themselves for the sake of Allah (God); Sabr – patience, Shukr – thankfulness, reflection and mindfulness are all key aspects of Ramadan.