Sensitivity during Ramadan

Get educated-

Important words and phrases:

  • Ramadan: The ninth month in the Islamic calendar. This is the month that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH-Peace be upon him) by the Angel Gabriel, also one of the five pillars of Islam.

  • Iftar: The breaking of fast after dusk. Muslims break their fast with a date and then pray Maghrib, which is one of the five daily prayers performed at sundown.

  • Suhoor: Suhoor is the meal that Muslims eat before the sun rises. Once the sun rises, they stop eating, and pray fajr, which is one of the five daily prayers performed at dawn.

  • Taraweeh: A Ramadan-specific set of prayers in addition to the five daily prayers observed by Sunni Muslims. These are done in pairs of rakat, or a single unit of Islamic prayers, and can go up to twenty rakat by the end of the night.  

  • Zakat: One of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat is an obligatory tax amount that Muslims are required to donate to charity. Every year typically during Ramadan, Muslims choose to pay their zakat, which is about 2.5% of their income

  • Ramadan Mubarak: The English equivalent would be Happy Ramadan.

  • Ramadan Kareem: Another way to say Ramadan Mubarak.

  • Laylatul Qadr- This translates to “The Night of Decree” or “The Night of Power.” This falls on one of the last 10 days of Ramadan is known as the night when the first verses of the Quran were released to the Prophet (PBUH)

How to interact with Muslims during Ramadan-

  • Do not assume. Even though the vast majority of Muslims fast, do not assume that just because it is Ramadan, that your Muslim friend will fast. There are a host of reasons, being ill, pregnant, elderly, or menstruating. Fasting also is more than just food - it includes drinking, sex, and other habits.

  • Be open to learn. It is okay to ask questions about different practices and even observe the fast. Non-muslims are welcome to mosque gatherings and even iftar feasts.

  • Be considerate- Do not intentionally eat in front of a Muslim or schedule outings that involve meals knowing that they are fasting.

  • Participate in Ramadan traditions. It is acceptable to join Muslim friends for iftars or as simple as wishing friends and passing strangers “Ramadan Mubarak.” Tradition is not taboo.    

Five Daily Prayers

Salat, or the five daily prayers prescribed to Muslims, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Salat requires all Muslims to participate in wudu, or ritual cleansing. All Muslims are able to pray where they are, except for Salat al-Jummah, a Friday-specific prayer where they must pray with their mosque. During individual prayer called du’a, it is common to use prayer beads, or a misbaha, to recite the tisbah, a set of 99 prayers divided into thirds.

Fajr: Salat al-Fajr is the prayer done after dawn before sunrise.

Zuhr: Salat al-Zuhr is the prayer done in the early afternoon after the sun begins to set. The timeframe for this prayer goes from early afternoon till the next prayer Salat al-Asr. 

‘Asr: Salat al-‘Asr is the prayer done in the late afternoon when the sun is close to setting and it extends until Salat al-Maghrib.

Maghrib: Salat al-Maghrib is the prayer done immediately after the sun sets.

Isha’a: Salat al-Isha’a is the prayer that can be done after the sun sets all the way until midnight. It is prescribed to happen before someone rests, however.

Jummah: Salat al-Jummah is the required mosque prayer for Muslims on Friday, taking place of the Zuhr prayer. Although this is similar to Christianity and Judaism, which both usually have weekly congregational services, Islam differentiates due to Jummah not being on a “day of rest” like the Sabbath in Christianity or Judaism, instead making it the worshipper’s duty to make time on a work day. Jummah, still, is similar by having worshippers clean themselves and wear nice clothes.