The Islamic calendar follows the phases of the moon, commonly known as the lunar cycle. As a result, the Holy month of Ramadan falls approximately 10 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar. The Ramadan start date for 2021 is expected to begin on Monday 12th April 2021, following the sighting of the moon over Mecca. Lasting for 30 days, Ramadan will end on Tuesday 11th May 2021, with the celebratory days of Eid al-Fitr starting on Wednesday 12th May 2021 or Thursday 13th May 2021.
Sawm or fasting
Sawm is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and the Arabic word for ‘fasting’. Although fasting occurs elsewhere in the Islamic calendar, it is primarily associated with the month of Ramadan for the month-long fast. Fasting is a key part of Ramadan and all those of able body and sound mind should fast during this Holy time. Sawm takes place every day from sunrise to sunset.
The sunset and the start of Maghrib prayers mark the end of the day’s fast. It is traditional to break the fast by eating dates, a proven healthy snack, before iftar (evening meal) which is normally eaten with friends and family.
Eid al-Fitr meaning ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, is the important holiday that follows the month of Ramadan. Celebrated for up to three days, Eid al-Fitr does not begin until the sighting of the moon although is expected to start on Wednesday 12th May or Thursday 13th May 2021. It is a time for great feasts, the giving of gifts to children and spending time with those dearest to you.
Before the end of Ramadan and the special Eid al-Fitr prayer, Muslims may make Zakat al-Fitr, a charitable contribution traditionally of a staple food item, intended to help those less fortunate to enjoy the celebration of Eid al-Fitr with their friends and loved ones.