Published: 5 May 2019

Ramadan begins in Australia today

Ramadan is a period of prayer, fasting, charity-giving and self-accountability for Muslims in Australia. The first verses of the Koran (Qu'ran) were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (also written as Mohammad or Muhammed) during the last third of Ramadan, making this an especially holy period. 

What Do People Do?
Many Muslims in Australia fast during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars (fundamental religious duties) of Islam. It is a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion. It is common to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) before sunrise and an evening meal (iftar) after sunset during Ramadan. Some groups of people, including the chronically ill, mentally challenged, and the elderly who cannot participate due to health reasons, are exempt from fasting. It is also not allowed to have sexual relations or smoke during the day.

Ramadan is also a time for many Muslims to donate to charity by participating in food drives for the poor, organizing a collection or charity event, and other voluntary activities. They are also encouraged to read the Qur'an often during Ramadan. Some Muslims recite the entire Qur'an by the end of Ramadan through special prayers known as Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a section of the Qur'an is recited.

Public Life
Many Islamic businesses and organizations may amend opening hours to suit prayer times during Ramadan in Australia. There may also be some congestion around mosques during prayer times, such as in the evenings.

Background
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which consists of 12 months and lasts for about 354 days. The word “Ramadan” is derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of food and drink. It is considered to be the most holy and blessed month. Fighting is not allowed during this period.

The month of Ramadan traditionally begins with a new moon sighting, marking the start of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims (except children, the sick and the elderly) abstain from food, drink, and certain other activities during daylight hours in Ramadan. This is considered as the holiest season in the Islamic year and commemorates the time when the Qu’ran (Islamic holy book) is said to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. This occurred on Laylat Al-Qadr, one of the last 10 nights of the month.  Ramadan ends when the first crescent of the new moon is sighted again, marking the new lunar month’s start. Eid-al-Fitr is the Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.