Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim readers! May your hearts be filled with generosity for those who find themselves in strife and may you reap all the rewards this blessed month has to offer and may all good duas made for and by you be accepted, Ameen.
The month of Ramadan is upon us and that means Muslims across the globe are going without food and drink from dawn to sunset.
A lot of my non-Muslim followers have questions about this month and so in the interest of clearing some things up here are the most commonly asked questions directed at Muslims during this holy month.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar in which Muslims observe fasting by going without food and drink and bodily pleasures from dawn until the sun sets. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the sightings of the moon, which would indicate that a new month has started.
Why do you fast?
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s a religious obligation upon adult Muslims. There are exceptions for the elderly, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, people travelling, menstruating women, and people suffering from chronic illness.
Those who miss out on fasting because of pregnancy, menstruation, and travelling need to make up for the missed days after Ramadan.
What if you forget and accidentally eat something?
You simply rinse the food from your mouth and carry on fasting. It was a mistake and you’re human. (See below quote from Bukhari and Muslim.)
Can you smoke?
No, you cannot.
Why can’t you drink water? Won’t you die?/ Not even water?
The healthy human body can survive without water for a week. (Please don’t go without water for this long.) During Ramadan we fast until the sun sets which means we get to still drink water every day at iftar (when we break fast) and suhoor (when we eat our morning meal before dawn) and will therefore be just fine.
Why don’t you just take a pill for your headache and carry on fasting?
Again we don’t ingest anything during the day and so will have to deal with our fasting headache until the evening. Of course if it becomes so debilitating that you can’t function, you’re allowed to medicate. Your fast will have broken though and you’d need to make up for it after Ramadan.
Why do different countries fast for different hours?
Because of time zones. Dawn and sunset will be different times in different countries and so the fasting hours will differ. In summer, fasts are longer. In winter, they’re much shorter. Currently here in the Southern Hemisphere, our fasting hours are very short in comparison to the Northern Hemisphere where it’s approaching summer, meaning the days are long.
What happens in countries where the sun doesn’t set?
I’ve read that they follow the fasting hours of the nearest city where the sun does set or alternatively they follow the fasting hours of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Are you supposed to fast if you’re ill?
If you have a chronic illness or are diabetic you should not be fasting. Instead you pay something called fidya.
Fidya is a payment made to feed a person in need if one cannot fast.
Can you taste food if you are cooking?
I found this following answer on an Islamic website.
Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, states:
But if the fasting person forgets and swallows it by mistake, there is no sin on him, and he should complete the fast. This is because the general rule of Shari`ah is that the person who forgets is excused. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks something, let him complete his fast, for it is Allah Who has fed him and given him to drink.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Why are you so moody?
Yes, some people have been asked this question. For some, being hangry is real. For others, they may just be quiet and introspective and come across as moody. While the lack of sleep that sometimes comes with Ramadan may also impact on people’s moods. I guess it’s something that needs to be answered on an individual basis.
Do you lose weight during Ramadan?
Some people do. Some people remain the same. Some people actually gain weight. It all depends on what and how you eat when you break your fast.
Do you have any other questions about Ramadan? Drop them into the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer or I’ll contact a religious scholar if I am unable to answer.