Having observed the new moon of the ninth month of 1440 AH of the Islamic calendar on the evening of May 5, the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs announced that Ramadan this year was to begin the following day, on May 6, and continue through to June 4.
Ramadan — the ninth month of the Islamic calendar — is the holiest month of Islam. Muslims believe that in the ninth month of 610 AD, the Koran was first revealed by Allah to Mohammed, the Islamic prophet. When Ramadan begins depends on when the new moon appears within the month.
During Ramadan, the month of fasting, Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex between sunrise and sunset. This abstinence, helps people understand the suffering of the poor, cherish what they have and exercise self-discipline.
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, these being declaration of faith, prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage (to Mecca). The Five Pillars are mandatory activities for Muslims to participate in during their lifetime.
Muslims worship five times a day. During Ramadan, in addition to the evening prayer, they include the tarawih prayer between 7 to 9pm. By reading the Koran and increasing the number of prayers said during the day, Muslims can get closer to Allah.
Muslims are restricted to two meals a day during Ramadan. In Indonesia, the mosque performs the call to prayer just before dawn, at about 4:20am. Muslims are expected to have finished their sahur (pre-dawn meal) before their fast continues. After that, they abstain from eating and drinking for about 13 hours until the call to prayer at about 5:45pm, when they can have their iftar (the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset).
Dates are an essential part of the meal for breaking the fast. These are rich in nutrients and easy to digest, suppress hunger and avoid the temptation to overeat. In addition to dates, the meal also includes boiled water, fruit, rice and various side dishes. Although basic, it is a welcome meal for those breaking their fast.
Ramadan ends with the Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast), an occasion in which Muslims get together with relatives and friends. Large numbers of people return home for this occasion.
There are about 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. Of Indonesia’s population of 267 million, around 90 percent are Muslim, making Indonesian the largest Muslim country.
(Translated by Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. Islamic adj.
(yi1 si1 lan2 jiao4 de5)
2. Muslim n.
(mu4 si1 lin2; yi1 si1 lan2 jiao4 tu2)
3. fasting n.
(jin4 shi2; zhai1 jie4)
4. exercise self-discipline phr.
(zi4 wo3 ke4 zhi4)
5. break fast phr.
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