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Understanding Ramadan

by Hassan El Amrani on 06/03/15

What is Ramadan?

Islam uses a lunar calendar, meaning that each month begins with the sighting of the new moon. The lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar, which is why the Islamic holidays "move" dates each year. Ramadan is the 9th months of the Islamic calendar. In 2015, Ramadan begins at sundown on June 18th. Ramadan refers to a "month of blessing" that includes prayer, fasting, and charitable contributions. Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad. Ramadan focuses on self-sacrifice and devotion to Allah (God). It's a time to made amends, to strengthen bonds in relationships, and to eliminate bad habits.


Fasting is one of the Five Pillars (duties) of Islam. Fasting serves many purposes: it reminds us of the suffering of the poor, and it's a chance to exercise self-discipline and to cleanse the body and mind. In this most sacred month of Ramadan, fasting helps Muslims feel the peace that comes from spiritual devotion and kinship with fellow believers. Starting in early adolescence, Muslims engage in fasting for the entire month of Ramadan. While fasting, Muslims may not eat or drink anything, including water, while the sun is up. Families wake early for a meal eaten before the sun rises. After sunset, the fast is again broken with a meal known as iftar, which typically begins with dates and milk or other sweet beverages. During Ramadan in the Muslim world (including Morocco), many restaurants, cafes, and shops are closed during the daylight and are instead open late into the night. If you are visiting Morocco during Ramadan, you will still be able to dine at the times you prefer, as tourism is a mainstay of the economy and plenty of restaurants do remain open. In fact, visiting Morocco during Ramadan will provide a unique opportunity to experience Muslim culture.

Eid al-Fitr

Ramadan conclude with the festival of Eid al-Fitr (July 17, 2015), which is a 3-day celebration ending the fast. Eid al-Fitr is on of the two most important Islamic celebrations and is a time in which people dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give sweets or treats to children, and enjoy visits with family and friends. Charity and good deeds are always important in Islam, but they take on special significance at the end of Ramadan when many of the faith share their blessings by feeding the poor and making contributions to mosques.

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