The Islamic faith is complicated and appears to be interpreted differently in different countries. On this page we seek to give a flavour of what Ramadan is about, just as we would explain May Day or Easter Sunday.
Ramadan [Arabic: رمضان ] is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn until sunset. In 2011 Ramadan begins on Monday, the 1st of August and Ramadan ends 30 days later on Tuesday, the 30th of August.
Fasting teaches the Muslim patience, modesty and spirituality.
Ramadan is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God [Arabic: الله, translation: Allah] and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds
Punishments For Those Flouting Ramazan (Ramadan)
In some Muslim countries, failing to fast or the open flouting of such behaviour during Ramadan is considered a crime and is prosecuted as such. For instance, in October 2008 the court of Biskra, in the south of Algeria, condemned six people to four years in prison and heavy fines.
In Kuwait, according to law number 44 of 1968 the penalty is a fine of no more than 100 Kuwaiti dinars, or jail for no more than one month, or both penalties, for those seen eating, drinking or smoking during Ramadan daytime.
In the U.A.E., [United Arab Emirates] eating or drinking during the daytime of Ramadan is considered a minor offence and would be punished by up to 240 hours of community service.
Ramadan Kareem = Noble or Generous Ramadan
Because the Muslim calendar is lunar rather than solar, the month of Ramadan moves through the year. Thus, sometimes if falls during the winter when the days are shorter and fasting is easier but other times it falls during the summer when the days are longer and fasting is more difficult.
After the sun sets, Muslims break their fast first with a small meal and then, often, a larger meal later on in the evening. It is also common for Muslims to take a meal early in the morning before dawn, a meal known as "suhur". There are musicians and others who volunteer to walk through town to wake people for this early meal.
There are a number of special days, Will and Guy have discovered, during the month of Ramadan which are considered particularly special. Since Islam is a worldwide religion not all Muslim countries follow the same celebrations or traditions, Fasting is appropriate but different countries may have differing practices.
Battle of Badr: This was a key battle in the year 625 CE and which occurred on the 17th of Ramadan
Retaking of Mecca: On the 19th of Ramadan in the year 630 CE it is believed that Muhammad managed to return and retake the city of Mecca from his opponents.
Deaths: A number of important deaths occurred during the month of Ramadan: Muhammad's first wife, Khadija (10th) and both Ali and the eight Shiite Imam, Ali Reza (21st).
Births: A number of important births also occurred during the month of Ramadan: Hussein (6th), who was later martyred and Ali (22nd).
Laylat ul-Qadr: This literally means "the night of power," and is celebrated on one of the last ten days during the month of Ramadan, but always on an odd numbered day. Tradition holds that on this night, the prayers of a sincere and devout Muslim are sure to be answered because it is believed to be the night when the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad. Many Muslims also believe that, on this night, the tree of Paradise is shaken and the names of all those who will die in the coming year can be found on the fallen leaves.
Eid ul-Fitr: On this day a large feast is celebrated on the breaking of the fast of Ramadan, and is held on the first day of Shawwal, right after the month of Ramadan. Also called "Eid," on this day many elaborate dishes are served at banquet-like gatherings. Additionally, houses are decorated and gifts are exchanged.
May Allah accept [the good deeds] from me and you.
Our site is largely about humour, thus we seek to understand Muslim and Islamic humour. Ideally we would like to incorporate tasteful, clean Islamic jokes just as we do for the Christian faith. However, it is true to say that finding funny Muslim humour is a bigger challenge than we anticipated.
Female Muslim comic and Guardian and New Statesman journalist, Shazia Mirza, who is a British Pakistani, believes her act is helping break down cultural barriers and overcome ignorance, has found her work in great demand in Britain, Pakistan and the USA.
While she does not poke fun at her religion, Mirza does tell jokes about her culture and current events. For example when questioned she has responded, 'I always have men come up to me afterwards and ask me questions and say: "Is it true that [Muslim] women have to walk steps behind their husband, is that true?" I say "Yes, they look better from behind".'
Perhaps daringly and somewhat bravely, say Will and Guy, Shazia, during her first appearance since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, she rather nervously introduced herself to the audience. 'I'm Shazia Mirza,' she said. 'At least that's what it says on my pilot's licence.'
Mirza performs wearing a head scarf and describes herself as a devout Muslim, but is keen to dispel any preconceptions that "all Muslim women are oppressed, all Asian women have arranged marriages and women are not funny".
Born and bred in Birmingham, England, she confessed she had always been known for her sense of humour.
The Metropolitan Police in London, England, has accepted Hijab as a uniform option for Muslim women serving in the force. The announcement was made at a conference on the theme of "Protect and Respect: Everybody's Benefit". The move is seen as a further sign of official acceptance of Britain as a religiously diverse society where faith-related accommodations should be made for all individuals.
The Muslim media in Britain had argued for accepting Hijab as a uniform option just as the turban was accepted as a part of the uniform for Sikh policemen. Sikh motorcyclists are also allowed to wear a turban in place of a crash helmet. Muslim policewomen will now be allowed to wear headscarf and the ankle length gown. Muslim police officers will now be allowed to pray on duty, demand halal food and have altered meal schedules during Ramadan.
In the above picture two models Shahnaz Shashudin and Syria Hussain are modelling hijab uniform for women police constables in front of New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police.
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See more dates for 2011. Also check the day of the week for these festivals: