By Laman Ismayilova
Ramadan, which falls on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar is the most sacred month of the year in Islamic culture.
This year the holiday will start on Wednesday, on May 16 and will continue for 30 days until Thursday, June 14.
The date of Ramadan may vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not. It begins and ends with the appearance of the new moon.
As the cycle of the lunar calendar does not match the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan changes by approximately 11 days each year.
Ramadan draws a special feeling of excitement among Muslims. The origin of Ramadan is connected with the life of Muhammad, the founding prophet of Islam.
Ramadan was established as a Holy Month for Muslims after the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE on the occasion known as Laylat al-Qadr, frequently translated as "the Night of Power".
During the holy month, Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours.
They refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset, and strive to avoid thoughts and behavior which are considered to be impure under the tenets of Islam.
In Islam, fasting is obligatory for all the faithful with the exception of minors, the elderly and ill, mentally ill, pregnant women and nursing mothers, travelers, and soldiers.
The holy Koran says, “As morning comes and white thread distinguishes from black thread, you may eat and drink and then complete your fast till the night.”
After the sunset prayer, Muslims usually gather in their homes or mosques to break their fast with a meal called iftar. Mosques also host large iftar parties, especially for the poor and needy.
After breaking the fast, but before eating dinner, Muslims offer the fourth of their five daily prayers— and after dinner, they make their way to their Mosques to offer the fifth daily prayer, known as the Isha prayer.
The day ends with a special voluntary prayer, which is offered by the congregation. During this time, Muslims also play and read the Quran. Acts of charity are obligatory upon Muslims who are able to do so.
The final ten days of Ramadan are considered some of the most holy. The 27th night is of particular importance, known as "the Night of Power". This is the night when the Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation. Many Muslims spend this day praying.
The ending of Ramadan is marked by the celebration called Eid ul-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking), which takes place either 29 or 30 days after the beginning of the month.
It is one of the two major religious holidays of the Muslim calendar. During the holiday, Muslims enjoy time with their families and often exchange gifts.
Delicious pastries are baked for the occasion, the graves of relatives are visited, and people pray in mosques.
Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim country, has celebrated the Ramadan officially since 1993, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijani Muslims did not stop fasting even during the Soviet period when all religious holidays were banned.
Azerbaijan has always been one of the historical and cultural centers of the Islamic world, and for centuries the Azerbaijani people have been committed to their religious, national and moral values.
The freedom of conscience and freedom of religion are fully ensured in accordance with local legislation and international law.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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