Learn more about the Muslim month of Ramadan, how you can help a fasting Muslim and why Muslims don't eat or drink anything - not even water!
What is Ramadan?
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Ramadan (also spelled Ramadaan) is the 9th month of the Muslim lunar calendar and is often known as the month of fasting.

Fasting in this month means abstaining from food, drink, smoking and intimate relations with one's spouse between the hours of sunrise and sunset.

Fasting is compulsory for all Muslims except small children (until puberty), the elderly, pregnant mothers and those who are sick or afflicted with mental illness.

It's also a month of spiritual reflection and a time when Muslims are encouraged to strengthen the bonds of kinship and increase their acts of charity for the benefit of others.

And all this without eating or drinking anything. Not even water.
Yes, not even water!
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The whole idea of fasting is to remove the focus from life's pleasures and to empathise with others who are less fortunate.

Fasting is a means of regulating the body's desires and to nourish the soul through charity, worship and an improved spiritual connection with God.

Water is a beautiful, basic human necessity but so many people around the world do not have access to adequate clean water.

By placing ourselves in their situation, we build a greater, more sincere appreciation for all of life's bounties bestowed upon us - especially water!

Fasting helps remind us how dependent we are on something as simple as water in order to get through each day.

According to modern science, the human body can only last about 1 week without water - any longer and we risk serious harm and possibly death.

We can go a lot longer without food (though even this isn't recommended!)

It's this perspective that makes Ramadan the perfect time to show gratitude for all that we have and to reflect upon the happenings of our daily lives.

There's so much to be thankful for.

And a glass of water is an excellent place to start.🚰
Is fasting healthy?
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Yes, it most certainly is!

Fasting helps to reset the body's metabolism and gives the digestive system a break.

Fasting lets your body go into repair mode by increasing autophagy, the cellular self-cleansing process

When cells age, they become cluttered with proteins and organelles that damaged and therefore don't function well.

And when cells don't function well, your body doesn't either, and that leaves you prone to breakdown, ill health, and chronic disease.

So by fasting, you increase the number of anti-oxidant processes in your body and automatically start to improve your overall health.

Fasting is also a reminder that we don't need to be eating and drinking all the time - you don't need as much food as you think you do!
Ramadan at a glance
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🏛 Importance - Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam.

🌙 Moon Sighting - Ramadan starts and ends upon sighting of the new moon.

🕰 Fasting Times - Muslims fast anywhere between 12-20 hours depending on their location.

🗓 Lunar Calendar - Ramadan starts 11 days earlier each year as Muslims follow the lunar calendar.

💵 Charity - Ramadan is a month where Muslims are often most charitable due to a higher reward from Allah (God).
Ramadan around the world
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Here's a list of some average fasting times in 2019 from countries around, based on the nearest half hour in the capital city:

Australia: 12 hours
Bosnia: 15 hours
Brazil: 12.5 hours
Canada: 17 hours
China: 16 hours
France: 17 hours
Germany: 18 hours
Greece: 14 hours
India: 15 hours
Iran: 14 hours
Malaysia: 13.5 hours
Pakistan: 14.5 hours
Saudi Arabia: 14.5 hours
Singapore: 13.5 hours
South Africa: 12 hours
Sweden: 17 hours
Tanzania: 13 hours
Turkey: 16 hours
UAE: 15 hours
UK: 18 hours

For added reference, check out this awesome colour coded world map with fasting times for 2019 designed by Heraa Hashmi.
How can I help a fasting Muslim?
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You can start by wishing them "Ramadan Mubarak" or "Ramadan Kareem".

The next best way to help a fasting Muslim is to continue being yourself!

Believe it or not, eating and drinking in front or near us doesn't make the fast any harder!

We believe in fasting for a higher purpose so even though our senses are extra sensitive when we're fasting (☕ coffee smells even more amazing!) we don't want you to compromise your daily life just for the sake of us.

We will however humbly ask that you excuse our occasional moodiness or lethargy (lack of caffeine!) and the odd moments where we may have less than ideal breath.

Thank you for your understanding.❣️
Can I fast too?
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You most certainly can!

And your Muslim friends will definitely appreciate your effort.

By fasting alongside your Muslim friends, it is a great sign of solidarity and can also provide you with the best appreciation of the month of Ramadan.

If you find it tough, perhaps have a bit of water to keep you going throughout the day - don't worry, we won't judge you!

Muslims typically break their fast with dates and water, in keeping with the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) but you can break your fast with whatever you like - you've earned it!

Some fasting pro tips:
🍽 Make sure you have a pre-dawn meal (breakfast foods work well - aim for low GI foods and lots of water!)

🛌 Try and grab an afternoon nap a few hours before sunset (if you can) - it makes a huge difference to the experience!
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
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Ramadan ends with the sighting of the crescent of the month of Shawwal.

When the new moon is sighted, the month of Ramadan comes to an end and Muslims begin preparation for Eid al Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast.

Eid al Fitr is held on the 1st of Shawwal (the 10th month in the Muslim lunar calendar).

On the day of Eid al Fitr, Muslims visit their local masjid or go to outdoor gatherings for the Eid prayer.

It is here they meet and greet family and friends and wish them well on the completion of Ramadan and on the occasion of Eid al Fitr.

Traditional greetings for Eid vary across the Muslim world but wishing Muslims "Eid Mubarak" is the most commonly used greeting.

Here's some other more localised greetings for Eid:
- Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Malay, Bahasa Indonesia)
- Bayram Mubarek Olsun (Turkish)
Give the gift of clean water
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You can make a difference in the world by supporting charities who work towards improving water access for thousands of people around the world:

- Dig a Water Well with Human Appeal Australia
- Thirst Relief with Penny Appeal
- Wash with Muslim Aid Australia
- Water Well Projects with Muslim Hands UK
- Water for Life with Islamic Relief
- Dig a Well with Islamic Appeal
We hope you've found this information beneficial and you now have a better understanding of Ramadan.