Ramadan is here, and soon 1.9 billion Muslims around the world will fast for an entire month to focus on their religion and reconnect with god. If you don’t know what Ramadan is or want to know more about it, here is everything you need to know about Ramadan and why people take part every year.

When does it take place?

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Ramadan takes place at a different time each year, a little bit like Easter or Mothers Day, as it is based on the moon cycle. Additionally, the Islamic calendar is different to the Gregorian calendar we use. Ramadan generally moves earlier (according to the Gregorian calendar) by 10-12 days every year. This year Ramadan will be starting on the evening of Sunday, March 10th 2024 at the start of the new moon and last until the evening of Tuesday, April 9th 2024. The days differ depending on which country/times your Mosque follows.

What actually is Ramadan?

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For an entire month each year, the Muslim community fast, meaning they do not eat or drink anything between sunrise (known as Suhoor) and sunset (known as Iftar). People don’t usually start taking part in Ramadan until they are 13, after they have reached puberty, and adults won’t take part if they are ill, pregnant, or have another reason not to. Females also do not fast during their menstrual phase.

Why do they fast?

Credit: Harvard Health

Muslims are taking part in Ramadan fast throughout the month as it marks the time of the revelation of the Quran (the Islamic Holy Book) to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and is a chance for Muslims to get closer to God (Allah). Moreover, fasting is one of the five principles of Islam which every Muslim follows. The five pillars of Islam include Taking the Shahadah (there is only one God Allah and Muhammad PBUH is his messenger), Prayer (known as Salah, which Muslims have to perform 5 times a day), Zakat (giving charity), Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) and Fasting.

What else does Ramadan involve?

muslim praying

The Muslim community don’t just fast for the month; they also have to give up smoking, sexual activity, medication, and any bad habits such as negative gossip and swearing. For girls, it is not obligatory to fast during their menstrual or parturition period. If you break your fast or miss a day without a valid reason, the ‘penalty’ is 60 days of continuous fasting or feeding 60 poor people/giving charity.

What do people do to celebrate?

eid why do people celebrate ramadan

After Ramadan comes Eid al-Fitr, which is known as the festival of the breaking of the fast. It lasts three days and, a bit like Christmas is a time to get together with friends and family. Muslims often exchange gifts with one another, eat a whole lot of food and wear brand new clothes

Ramadan tips for students practising

For students, Ramadan can be lonely without your family close by and can be hectic trying to balance fasting and student life at the same time. We’ve put together some handy tips to help you make the best of both worlds as a student.

Eating the right foods at Suhoor time

muslim family eating - what is ramadan

It’s important to eat the right foods at Suhoor time. It’s tempting to just go to sleep after drinking a glass of water. It’s always important to make sure you eat the right kind of foods (such as oats, grains and beans) and to maximise your fluid intake. This way, you won’t feel so drowsy during your lectures and revision sessions

Make sure you rest

Make sure you take rests in between your lectures and revision sessions. Fasting can make you feel awfully lethargic, but getting as much rest as possible will help refuel your energy.

Don’t overwork yourself

It’s tempting to complete all the revision and watch all your lectures so you can rest for the day. However, overworking yourself can have an impact on your mental health and wellbeing. It’s good to create a plan where you can complete your university work, pray and rest.

Pre-prepared Iftar Meals

dates iftar ramadan

It’s helpful to have some Iftar meals previously prepared. At times it can be a struggle to get up and cook. By having them prepared you can just warm food up and open your fast. Make sure you also have a balanced meal containing fats, vitamins and water to maintain good health. We’ve got some great Ramadan recipes too so be sure to experiment with a few of them.

Here’s some more tips for if you’re fasting during exams!.