Ramadan is upon us once again. Here is what happens during the holy month.

Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims. Every year, Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours, but what is it really about?

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Healthy adult Muslims fast in Ramadan from dawn until dusk. This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity are also encouraged during Ramadan.
Muslims also believe that the Quran was revealed in Ramadan.
During the holy month, Muslims would wake up early to eat a pre-dawn meal called suhoor, and they break their fast with a meal referred to as iftar.
It is common for mosques to host large iftars, especially for the poor and needy. Nightly prayers called Tarawih are also held in mosques after iftar.
Different cultures have different traditions during Ramadan, whether it is a special food they must cook, or eating iftar with the extended family. Islamic tenets, such as generosity, inspired most of these traditions, such as sharing food and inviting guests over for iftar.

Tips on how to stay hydrated and retain optimal energy while fasting as the holy month of Ramadan marks its start.

It's that time of year again: 1.84 billion Muslims around the world will be welcoming the holy month of Ramadan with their first day of fasting on May 16. For other countries, May 17 will be the first day of fasting.

Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims as it is regarded to be the month that the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad on the night of Laylat al-Qadr, one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan.
Millions of Muslims around the world will be fasting every day for a month, refraining from eating, drinking (yes, even water) and smoking from sunrise to sunset.
It is a month that teaches self-discipline and awareness for those living in poverty.
As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting during Ramadan is accompanied with increased spiritual reflection, worship and acts of charity.
Fasting for the whole day can be a more gruelling experience for some depending on where they live.
For instance, those who live in Oslo, Norway will be fasting 19 hours, while Muslims in East Jerusalem in occupied Palestine will fast for roughly 15 hours and those living south of the equator such as in Buenos Aires, Argentina will fast for just 12 hours.
It is common to experience unusual fatigue and dehydration when fasting.
Students and academics at Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom have come up with a guide featuring tips to support the wellbeing of those who fast and to help them retain as much energy as possible throughout the day.
  • Water, water and more water during night-time hours - experts advise drinking as much water as possible during Iftar (breaking of fast) and Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) times, especially if hot weather is expected during the day. Make sure you have at least two litres of water during night-time hours.
  • Learn the importance of balance - when fasting, your body is deprived of nutrients that your system needs. The experts emphasise that it is so important to make sure that when you can eat, you keep your meals balanced so that you feed your system enough nutrients from each group.
  • Think about the alternatives - swap deep frying for grilling, baking or shallow frying and swap heavier foods for lighter alternatives. For example, swap cake and chocolate for fruit and yoghurt.
  • Fitness and fasting can work together - gym enthusiasts can stick to their routine of working out everyday. Light exercises are great to keep blood flowing and the system working. Cardio exercises are also fine to do when fasting as long as you don't overdo it.
  • Lots of protein and avoid salt for Suhoor - For the pre-dawn meal, experts recommend eating foods that will provide the body with enough energy to last a good few hours. It's important to focus on slow-digesting foods like high protein and high fibre. Some great examples of these are oats, and whole wheat foods like barley, brown rice, buckwheat and whole wheat bread or pasta.
  • Iftar time is for water, dates and well-balanced meals - It is traditional for Muslims to break their fast with a date, which has scientific benefits. Energy-rich foods with natural sugars are a great way to provide fast-releasing energy to the system. Things like raw fruit, particularly dates and even fruit juices, are perfect for this. When it comes to meals it is really important that they consist of a good balance of starchy carbohydrates, like potatoes, rice and bread, along with a good intake of vegetables, proteins such as meat or fish, and dairy for the natural fats.
  • Keep energised without water or snacks - experts advise that there are small things you can try each day to keep you alert and maintain your energy. Things like taking small breaks from revision or work and going on small walks, writing daily to-do lists or listing what you're finding difficult and working on combatting these, and planning meals to make sure you're eating the right things to get good energy levels can all have a bit impact. 
 When is Ramadan in 2018?

Scientific predictions

Astronomers calculate that Ramadan's new moon will be born on May 15 at 11:47 GMT, but its visibility on the first night may only be possible with specialised equipment.
Since 2017, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have used specialised infrared digital cameras that can photograph the new moon, otherwise invisible to traditional telescopes due to their limited optical range.
If such equipment is used again this year, Saudi Arabia will likely observe the first day of Ramadan on May 16.
On the eve of May 16 however, the new Moon should be visible with the naked eye around the world, making it most likely that Pakistan and other countries, depending on their local sightings, will observe the first day of fasting on May 17.
Actual visibility of the crescent will depend on factors such as atmospheric conditions, cloudiness and the distance between the sun and the moon on the horizon.

Lunar calendar

Muslim lunar months last between 29 and 30 days, depending on the sighting of the new moon on the 29th night of each month. If the new moon is not visible, the month lasts 30 days.
To declare the beginning of Ramadan, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority countries depend on the testimonies of local moon sighters. The Judicial High Court then decides when Ramadan begins.
Saudi Arabia's official Umm al-Qura calendar marks the first day of Ramadan as May 16, 2018.
By the Gregorian solar calendar, Ramadan comes 10 to 12 days earlier each year. Last year, the first day of Ramadan was on May 27, 2017.

Holy month

For Muslims, Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Quran, Islam's holy book, were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to sunset. This fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
In Muslim-majority countries, offices are required by law to reduce working hours, and many restaurants are closed during daylight hours.
"Ramadan Mubarak" and "Ramadan Kareem" are common greetings exchanged in this period, wishing the recipient a blessed and generous Ramadan respectively.
Last year, fasting hours across the world ranged between 10 and 21 hours.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday. Eid al-Fitr in Arabic literally means "festival of breaking the fast".
Depending on the actual start date of Ramadan and the new moon sighting on the 29th night of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr this year will fall between Thursday, June 14 and Saturday, June 16.

Derick BAKAH

Derick BAKAH

Bakah Derick is a Broadcast Presenter and Multimedia specialist with focus on sharing with the rest of the world the daily happenings in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. You can contact us on +237 675460750 or debakah2004@gmail.com.

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