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a beautiful painting of an islami cityscape with a new moon rising in the sky

Ramadan: A Beginners Guide To The Holiest Month For Muslims

After a month of fasting the commemoration ends with Eid al-Fitr, a festival of feasting and celebration

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and the holiest month for Muslims. However, the Islamic calendar works a little differently.

The Islamic calendar is based on 12 lunar months, where a new month begins when a new moon is sighted.

This year, the new moon of the ninth month was spotted on the evening of March 22, 2023. This marked the start of Ramadan, one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Ramadan is a four-week commemoration and will end on the evening of April 21, 2023. During this period, Muslims are required to fast.

In other words, Muslims must go without food or drink for most of the day. Specifically, members have a meal before dawn, known as Sehri or Suhoor, but do not eat or drink anything again until sunset.

This evening meal is referred to as Iftar or Fitoor. For many of us outside of the Muslim faith, the thought of fasting has us quaking in our boots.

However, for Muslims, Ramadan is a time to strengthen their relationship with God and the community.

“It’s really a moment of introspection, reflection, contemplation, it’s a moment of purifying your heart,” Imam Fayaz Tilly told CBC News.

The beginning of the tenth month, Shawwal, marks the end of Ramadan. When the fast is broken at sunset, Muslims celebrate with a feast.

Muslims also commemorate the end of Ramadan with a three-day holiday known as Eid al-Fitr. This translates to “the festival of the breaking of the fast.”

During Eid al-Fitr, many Muslims attend early morning prayers at their mosque. After the prayer service, mosques usually host festivals and carnivals filled with games, food, and rides for children, among other things.

How Calgary Celebrates Eid al-Fitr

Last year, more than 500 Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan with bouncy castles, face painting, and henna tattoos at the Calgary Islamic Centre.

“People, I believe, were desperate to get together. And you can find the youth are getting together very lively and happily…It’s such a pleasure and a blessing to be able to gather back together,” Amira Aly told CTV News Calgary.

Even during the height of the pandemic in 2020, Muslims found ways to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in Calgary. The Al-Salam Centre held a drive-thru where volunteers gave children more than 800 goodie bags.

“The kids are the ones who are missing it the most, so we decided to do something creative…We decided to take Eid to their homes, from their houses where they can celebrate in a safe place,” Ibrahim Jadalowen told CBC News.

a car decorated with balloons and banners in celebration of eid al fitr in Calgary
A car decorated with balloons and banners during Eid al-Fitr in Calgary in 2020 | Dan McGarvey | CBC News

People also decorate their vehicles with balloons, signs, and banners while honking their horns. The Calgary branch of the Muslim Association of Canada also held an online event that featured artists and performers.

With the ending of Ramadan and the celebrations of Eid al-Fitr getting closer, one thing is for sure. It’s bound to be a good time.

Until then, Muslims in Calgary are focused on fasting. However, Ramadan is also about helping those who are in need.

This year, the food bank at the Green Dome Mosque in northeast Calgary is helping feed more than 300 families.

The food bank is also hosting community Iftars where as many as 400 people come to break their fast every day.

“That the spirit of Ramadan is all about reaching out. We live in this blessed country. We are very proud Canadians and the overwhelming majority of our neighbours, colleagues, classmates, they are non-Muslims,”  Imam Syed Soharwardy, with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, told CBC News.

If you would like to wish well to Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr, you can say “Eid Mubarak,” which means blessed Eid.

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