The History of Ramadan

There is an estimate of 1.6 billion Islam followers around the world, about 50 countries have a majority of Muslims, and these numbers are growing up. This is known as the Islamic community or the Ummah. "Islam" comes from the Arabic term which means to submit one’s will to the will of God.

The history of Islam is approximately 1400 years old and it is not only about religion, but it includes socio-political events, science, arts, and some other topics. Since Muslim life is total submission to God, it can be practiced by anyone at any time and in every place. A Muslim submits there will do Allah (God), and also believes in Muhammad, the last prophet of Allah.

There are two denominations in Islam: Sunni and Shia, however, there are Muslims that are not identified with any of these denominations, they consider themselves as Muslims only.

The Quran, an Arabic term that means "The Recitation", is the central text of Islam, it has one hundred and fourteen chapters. Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed by Allah to the prophet Muhammad thru the archangel Gabriel around the seventh century of Islam practice, around the year 622 A.D. The first revelation started in the month of Ramadan and lasted for Twenty Three years.

So, what is the Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Arabic calendar. This is considered the holy month by Muslims, and they practice fasting, introspection, and prayer. Islam has been built upon five pillars, fasting is one of them, the other four are Belief, Prayer, Zakat, and Hajj. The Muslim Calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan begins ten to twelve days earlier each year, this is the reason why Ramadan is observed in every season throughout a 33-year cycle. In 2021, Ramadan will start on Monday, April 12, and it will end on Tuesday, May 11. These dates may vary in some countries depending on the appearance of the crescent moon. Muslims, believe that during Ramadan, on the Night of Power, Allah revealed to the prophet Mohammad the Quran, as a guide for the people. During Ramadan, Muslims believe that Allah forgives their sins to those who observe the holy month with fasting, prayer, and faithful intention.

Ramadan is interpreted as an obligation to refrain from food, drink, intercourse, and immoral behavior. In the Ramadan period, Muslims observe fasting for several reasons, such as demonstrating self-control and restraint, cleansing their bodies, being reminded, being more compassionate and grateful, and strengthening their bond with Allah. Fasting during Ramadan is not for everyone, since staying healthy is very important, some people cannot practice fasting. For example, those who are pre-pubescent, old and frail, sick, pregnant, menstruating, or traveling are exempt to fast, but they must pay Fidyah, an Arabic word that describes the donation to those that are most vulnerable people. The donation was also practiced by the people who had food in excess, this food donation has been substituted by monetary donations.

Another practice during Ramadan is the Tarawih, an Arabic word that stands for extra nightly prayers, however, this practice is not compulsory. Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran over the thirty days of Ramadan.

There is a cultural practice established during the Fatimid Caliphate, a rule was dictated by Caliph al-Mu´izz li-Din Allah, consisting of hanging lights in public squares and across the city streets. Now, the celebration of Ramadan has its implications regarding the law, in some countries, eating in public during daylight hours this month is a crime. Egypt is forbidden to sell alcohol. In Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, and Malaysia, the penalty for publicly eating, drinking, smoking, or engaging in any act deemed indecent may result in fines or imprisonment. Talking about implications, fasting in Ramadan has also health effects. Fasting may be safe for healthy people, and it may have some benefits, there is an increase in insulin sensitivity. Fasting is also good against hard diseases, and obviously weight loss.

There is a controversial correlation between Ramadan and crime, some statistics show that crime rates increases, like in Turkey for example, while others show that crimes drop, like in Saudi Arabia.

Now, what do the Muslim Countries should expect for this year, considering the pandemic? The World Health Organization published its recommendations on its website, let's see the most important ones. Considering that social life is more active, most visits are centered on the meal that breaks de fast, this is practically a festival with the best food. So, here are some recommendations:

1). Replenish your energy levels, incorporate vegetables to provide vitamins and nutrients.

2). It is recommended to eat suhoor, which is a light meal before the beginning of the fast.

3). Avoid the consumption of food rich in fat, and large amounts of salt.

4). Eat slowly and in appropriate amounts.

5). And of course, be always aware of COVID-19 protection and procedures.

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