Friday, June 3, 2016

Muslim Holidays (1/2) Ramadan: Its not just about fasting

As Ramadan draws near, these are some remarks being made by Muslims around you (and the world).

Are you ready for Ramadan?

I can't wait for Ramadan to start!

I'm so excited for Ramadan!

How is it that I have no problem fasting for 30 days during Ramadan, BUT have a problem not eating every two hours any other time?!

What is Ramadan?

  • Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims around the world.
  • It is more than just refraining from food.
  • It falls on the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar.
  • It comes 10 days early every year.
  • It can last between 29-30 days depending on the sighting of the moon.
  • It is one of the 5 pillars of Islam.
  • It is a very spiritual month.
  • It is known as the month in which the Quran (the Holy Book) was revealed to Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).


These are questions that I have been asked. Please feel free to ask more!

How do you fast for 30 days? Don't you get hungry?

Technically, its not a straight fast. The fast is kept everyday from sun-up to sundown, for the 30 days of Ramadan. 

Can you drink water?

We are not allowed to drink water between sun-up and sundown.

So, basically you can't eat or drink?

Yes, but its so much more than that. We work on refraining from: smoking, cursing, bad behavior, sex, rudeness, backbiting, etc.

Don't you get hungry?!

The first couple of days CAN be hard. And a particularly hot day can be excruciating, if I haven't had enough water before sun-up/previous day. But overall, I look forward to it and seek the reward of doing it.

I don't know how you do it, I feel so bad for you!

Please do not feel bad for us. We believe the reward we get is much greater than feeling a little hungry/thirsty and/or tired. Also, we believe it brings us closer to God. 

That's not healthy...

False! Studies have shown that fasting is actually very good for your health. It gives your body time to heal and to get rid of toxins that have been sitting there. 

What if you don't feel good?

Simple. Do not fast. Ramadan is for those who are able. Children, elderly people, the sick, the traveling, pregnant/breast feeding and menstruating are not required to fast!

You must binge every night!

Some people do, some people don't. Everyone is different :)

So, why do you fast?

To feel what the poor feel. To teach ourselves patience. To be appreciative of what we have. To get closer to God. We all have our reasons (some are different, some are the same).

Here is a display* I created at my library last year to welcome the month of Ramadan.
I included information about this month, as well as, pictures from around the world.
The little paper lanterns you see on the display are something we call a Fanoos (Fa-neow-s). Plastic ones are generally made for children, while more elaborate beautiful ones, are made for decorations around the house. 
You can view elaborate ones on Google here since you cant really see the ones I put INSIDE the display.

Here is a display that I saw when I walked into the children's room. Our Children Librarian had created a display of books for the kids! I remember the feeling of happiness I felt upon seeing the display. I felt even more included than I normally do at my library.
We have a good chunk of our community that is Muslim. I would watch their face light up when they saw the books. The kids would become very excited and grab them for check out.

Finally, I will leave you with some vocabulary.

Ramadan Mubarak: This is what Muslims say to each other to welcome Ramadan, and if you are feeling adventurous, you can say it to your patrons.
Suhoor: The meal eaten before sun-up.
Iftar: The meal eaten after sunset.

If you have ANY questions, please feel free to ask me. I will do my best** to answer. Feedback and comments are always appreciated!

* The Eid greetings and Happy Ramadan banner were given to me by Project Eid Awareness. They sent me a kit at no cost, to help raise awareness at my library. It was very generous of them.
**I am not an expert. I am writing from my own point of view and what I know/experienced. What I cannot answer, I will find resources for you :)

(I did not forget the second part of my Hijab post. That will come soon!)

Thank you L Kristin Jonsson for suggesting I write this!


  1. I just wanted to share with you that I have a family that are regulars in my library and were looking for the book "It's Ramadan, Curious George." We finally got it in and I was able to process it quickly while they were here. I told them "Ramadan Mubarak" and the only way I would have known to even try is through your blog, so thank you for making my day and my patron's day too!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that! That makes me very, very happy to hear. Its good to know that my blog has some use and that two peoples days were made <3