Ramadan has begun for 2018, and Muslims everywhere will now be fasting through daylight hours for a month.
The Islamic period leads up to the celebration Eid al-Fitr, and involves increased prayers and charitable behaviour as well as abstinence.
There are two traditional greetings shared between those practicing Ramadan. But which one should you use, and what do they mean? Let’s find out…
When you meet up with friends and family to share Iftar at sundown, there are two established greetings to choose from:
Ramadan Mubarak – ‘Happy Ramadan’.
Ramadan Kareem – ‘Have a generous Ramadan’.
During the entirety of Ramadan, which ends at sunset on the final day, Muslims do not eat, drink, have sex or smoke while the sun is up.
They also offer more prayers, contribute more money to the poor and regularly study the Quran. It’s also thought that pious behaviour and good deeds can increase a Muslim’s spiritual reward, known as thawab, during this period.
There are some exemptions from fasting: you can eat and drink if you are suffering from an illness, travelling, are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, chronically ill or menstruating.
For those who are fasting, food and drink are served in meals called the suhur and iftar, before and after the sun is up respectively.
Sugary dates are traditionally eaten to break fast in the evening. Muslims continue with work and school during Ramadan, though they are encouraged to inform their employer or teacher of the fact.