Is Ramadan all about fasting?
Ramadan begins: Not only food and drink are "haram"
Devout Muslims around the world fast for over four weeks in Ramadan. Eating, drinking, sex and smoking are prohibited from sunrise to sunset. How exactly do the Austrian Muslims adhere to this?
The fasting month of Ramadan began in mid-May for the majority of the approximately 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide - also for the approximately 700,000 Muslims in Austria. According to the "Islamic Faith Community in Austria" (IGGÖ), an estimated 80 percent of Austrian Muslims fast.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar and moves forward ten to eleven days each year. With the beginning of the new lunar month, the new month begins on Wednesday night. In Vienna, the first sickle of the new moon can be seen at 3:24 a.m. This is how Ramadan traditionally begins. Devout Muslims then fast for four weeks. Eating and drinking are taboo during the day at this time.
The most important rules in Ramadan
In Ramadan, all food and liquids are forbidden from sunrise. The daily fast is only broken at sunset and it is allowed to eat and drink again.
However, the strict fasting periods do not apply to all Muslims - there are exceptions: women are prohibited from fasting during menstruation. Pregnant women, the sick and travelers are also exempt from the obligation to fast. You should catch up on the fast at a later date. The elderly and children are exempt from this religious duty (Fard).
When children reach puberty, they are considered religiously mature in Islam. This makes fasting an obligation. The IGGÖ writes on its homepage that children should be gradually accustomed to fasting. But it is up to each family how they deal with it. For example, skipping individual meals is practiced.
Smoking, sex and vaccination are "haram"
According to the IGGÖ, smoking is also prohibited during the month of fasting. In principle, vaccinations are also taboo unless there is a medical need or a medical emergency. Muslims therefore try to plan vaccination appointments so that they do not fall in Ramadan month. Sexual intercourse is also strictly prohibited in Ramadan. Married couples are allowed to hug and kiss.
A violation of these prohibitions is "haram". The Arabic adjective describes everything that is forbidden according to Sharia law. So every sin against the Muslim rules is "haram".
When fasting becomes a danger
In some Muslim-dominated countries, violations of the law of fasting are punished. In Austria, too, pressure is repeatedly exerted on Muslims who decide against strict fasting - mostly from their own community. Younger people in particular can be influenced by it. In many cases, not eating and drinking can also lead to damage to health.
Basically, people are exempt from the obligation to fast if it threatens their health. When combined with religious zeal, the strict rules of fasting can cause problems. Since food and liquids can only be consumed after sunset, there is a risk of dehydration, especially on hot days.
According to the IGGÖ, those who cannot keep the fasting period for health reasons can catch up on the number of non-fasted days in the course of the year. Alternatively, you can make a donation to the needy for every day you do not fast.
Celebration at the end
Aside from fasting, Muslims should testify of their faith and make offerings in Ramadan by visiting mosques and praying. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. The other four pillars are the creed, five daily prayers, the poor tax and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The last ten nights of Ramadan are considered particularly holy. The month of fasting ends on the 27th day with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. The fasting break festival is one of the most important Muslim holidays: The two-day festival begins in Austria on June 14th and ends on the evening of June 15th.
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