What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a month-long period of fasting for those who hold to the Islamic faith. It occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan - which roughly equates to September.  Muslims believe that Mohammed received the call to be the prophet of Allah during Ramadan and that is why it is a special time. During that month, from sunrise to sunset, all Muslims are to abstain from food, eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse. However, those with medical conditions and the young are given exemptions.  In addition, during this month all Muslims are supposed to focus on the Quran and meditate upon it.  Supposedly, this is what Muhammad did during his life and all Muslims follow in his example.

"The sick, prepubescent youths, and women who are menstruating or pregnant are exempt from the fast.1

Of course, in hotter countries, Ramadan can be a particularly difficult undertaking, but it is to be observed by all faithful Muslims.

During the month of Ramadan, after sundown, Muslims may eat, drink, have sex and behave normally until sun-up when the fast continues. When Ramadan is completed, the first meal thus eaten is called Iftar.  Eid is the festival marking the end of the Ramadan fast.

From the Quran...

"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous - 184 [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. 185 The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful," (Quran, 2:183).

  • 1. Richter, Rick. Comparing the Qur’an and the Bible: What They Really Say about Jesus, Jihad, and More. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.