Information on Ramadan
Ramadan is the holy month of fasting in the Muslim faith, and it falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. As measured by the standard Gregorian calendar, the dates of Ramadan change each year, as the Islamic Ramadan calendar recedes according to lunar patterns, shifting by an average of 11 days per annum. Thus, over a 34-year cycle, every day of the year will have been included. Numerous religious rites are an essential part of Ramadan, including fasting, alms-giving and abstinence.
Why Do Muslims Celebrate Ramadan?
According to the Muslim faith, Ramadan was the month during which the prophet Muhammad was given the initial verses of the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an. Thus, it is considered a time of increased closeness between Allah and followers of the Muslim faith, which believers think can be amplified through careful observance of the month's religious codes and traditions.
The virtues of Ramadan include patience, submissiveness to the will of Allah, heightened engagement with one's spirituality and humility. These values are reflected through the traditional Ramadan activities of abstaining from eating and drinking, engaging in sexual intercourse or smoking during daylight hours for the entire month.
The giving of alms or charity is another important aspect of Ramadan; in many places, food is distributed to disadvantaged people as a charitable act. A practice known as "Iftar" breaks the fast when day turns to night, and a traditional Iftar meal begins with the consumption of three dates -- which is what Muhammad ate when the Qur'an was being revealed to him.
Towards the conclusion of the month of Ramadan, the holiest night of the Islamic calendar is celebrated. Known as "Laylat al-Qadr" or "the night of decrees and measures," this important observance commemorates the day on which Muslims believe that the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad. Though the exact date varies, it is frequently celebrated on an odd-numbered night during the final third of Ramadan.
Unlike Christmas cards, which are often light and joyous and secular rather than religious, Ramadan greeting cards are somber. The traditional Muslim greeting during the month is "Ramadan Mubarak," which is the rough equivalent of wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Easter." If you are sending Ramadan cards to Muslim friends, choosing a card that contains this greeting is in good taste.