When is Ramadan and what are the rules around fasting? Here’s what you need to know …

ramadan is a month of fasting

Muslims around the globe will begin observing the holy month of Ramadan from Monday, a period of deep spiritual reflection and celebration.

The month of Ramadan will see Muslims fast and pray before breaking their fast at sundown alongside family and friends.

Here’s a look at what the ritual means, the importance of fasting, and why the date alters from one year to another. We’ll also talk about “When does Ramadan 2024 start in Australia?”


Muslims around the globe will begin observing the holy month of Ramadan from Monday, a period of deep spiritual reflection and celebration.

The month of Ramadan will see Muslims fast and pray before breaking their fast at sundown alongside family and friends.

Here’s a look at what the ritual means, the importance of fasting, and why the date alters from one year to another.

When does Ramadan 2024 start in Australia?

This year, the first night of Ramadan will be after sunset on the evening of Monday, March 11.

That means the Holy Month will officially begin on Tuesday, March 12.

This was confirmed by the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamad.

“The Australian National Imams Council and the Australian Fatwa Council acknowledge, understand and respect the Imams and scholars who may hold a different opinion, and request all Muslims to respect the different opinions on this matter and work towards the unity of the Muslim community in preserving the common values and interests that they all have and share,” he said in a statement.

The Islamic holy month is always held on the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar.

Since the calendar depends on the Moon cycle, Ramadan falls about 11 days earlier each year.

How was this date determined?

The Grand Mufti’s announcement was for all the Australian states and territories.

It took into account the sunset and moonset times for both Sydney and Perth — which are on opposite sides of the country and are in different time zones.

In a statement, he and the Australian Fatwa Council said the method was “based on the calculated birth of the moon before sunset, the duration of the moonset after sunset and the possibility of sighting the moon”.

“This is a method that many prominent and reputable global scholars, councils and Muslim countries have adopted.”

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims.

It remembers the month the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

During its 29 to 30 days, Muslims abstain from food and drink every day from dawn to sunset — yes, even water.

When the sun sets, there is a communal meal called Iftar, where you break your fast, usually with your family or friends.

Traditionally, Muslims break their fast by eating dates to emulate how the Prophet Mohammed broke his fast.

But the month of Ramadan is about more than just fasting.

You are also encouraged to do good deeds such as charity and abstain from sinful acts such as gossip.

It’s also a month of self-reflection and a way for Muslims to develop positive habits that can be brought forward once Ramadan is over.

 

Ramadan Iftar Meal
Food spread out on a wooden table as people serve their plates
Families, friends, and communities gather for Iftar to break the fast together and celebrate Ramadan

What are the rules of Ramadan?

Healthy adult Muslims are required to fast each day from dawn to sunset, Islamic Relief Australia says.

This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts, and anger.

Those participating will usually wake up early to eat a big meal so they won’t be hungry throughout the day.

And those who don’t wake up early have a big dinner before going to bed.

It’s important to note that not every Muslim will fast this Ramadan.

Young children and the elderly are exempt from fasting, along with those who are:

  • Sick
  • Pregnant
  • Nursing
  • Menstruating
  • Travelling long distances

But what happens if you miss a fast? You can make up for it by fasting at a later date.

If you can’t fast because of health reasons, it is encouraged you donate food or money to the poor instead.

Other acts of worship, such as prayer, reading the Qur’an and charity, are also encouraged during the holy month.

Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days, depending on the moon cycle.

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

The practice of fasting during Ramadan serves spiritual and social purposes.

According to Islamic Relief Australia, Muslims believe Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed more than 1,400 years ago.

The fast entails abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations to achieve greater “taqwa”, or consciousness of God.

It is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Fasting is also common across faiths.

Jews have Yom Kippur, Christians observe Lent, Hindus commonly fast on a new moon day, and Catholics traditionally don’t eat meat on Fridays.

Can I eat in front of someone who is fasting?

Yes.

You can eat and drink in front of someone fasting for Ramadan during the day.

While they’ll most likely turn down your invitation to brunch, you can have dinner together when they break their fast.

Remember, Ramadan is all about coming together, so inviting a person to break their fast with you is a big part of the celebration.

When is Eid al-Fitr 2024 in Australia?

We don’t have official confirmation on that yet.

But it’s expected to fall on about April 9 or April 10 this year.

What is Eid al-Fitr?

A three-day festival marking the end of Ramadan.

It’s called Eid al-Fitr, also known as the Festival of Breaking the Fast.

Over that period, Muslims have family, friends, and neighbours over, indulging them in a feast and eating traditional foods only made during this time.

Muslims also decorate their homes and wear new clothes, and children and the elderly receive gifts or money packets.

 

A person holding an oven tray with fresh traditional Iraq cookies and placing them into a basket
A family preparing traditional cookies for the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in Iraq. (AP: Nabil al-Jurani)

It’s not to be mixed up with Eid al-Adha — which is celebrated on the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is considered to be one of the largest Islamic festivals of the year.

Eid al-Adha is known as the festival of sacrifice, when people get together for a family meal and making donations to charity and people in need.

How can I wish my Muslim friends a happy Ramadan?

There are many ways to wish someone well during Ramadan.

Here are a few ideas for Ramadan greetings you can share with friends or co-workers.

And no, you don’t have to be participating in Ramadan to say these greetings.

  • Happy Ramadan
  • Ramadan Mubarak which means “blessed Ramadan”
  • Ramadan Kareem which means “generous Ramadan”

It’s helpful to think of these as festive greetings in the same way as “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah”.

 

Vatican Message on Occasion of Ramadan

 

Editor’s Note 10/03/2024: This article was updated to correct the Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr dates and include statements from the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamad.


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