Eid Al-Fitr 2016: When is it and how do Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan?

The holy month of Ramadan - which started on June 6 - is about to come to a close, and Muslims all over the world are preparing for the Eid Al-Fitr festival.

For the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, Ramadan involves fasting, which is one of he Five Pillars of the religion of Islam and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship. 

While many of us know that the holy month involves periods of fasting and devotion to prayer, purification and charitable acts, you may not know that the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. 

This means that Ramadan begins with a combination of the sighting of the new moon and astronomical calculations. 

The exact time of Ramadan sometimes varies from place to place as some rely heavily on the moon sightings, while others depend on science. 

What is Ramadan? 

Ramadan falls during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

It’s an incredibly sacred time for Muslims who believe that during Ramadan the Qu'ran was revealed to mankind through the Prophet Muhammad.

The Islamic calendar celebrates holidays on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Ramadan from sunset on Sunday.

Many Muslims around the world will celebrate the Eid Al-Fitr festival on Wednesday July 6, which signals the end of Ramadan 2016.

What do Muslims do during Ramadan? 

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. During the month, Muslims fast during the hours of daylight, meaning they are not allowed to eat or drink at all.

A single sip of water is considered enough to invalidate the fast. 

As well as fasting in the daytime, they also undertake extra prayers, as a means to grow closer to Allah.

This is complemented by regular mosque visits alongside a personal attempt to work on positive traits, as the month is intended to improve morality. 

What is iftaar?

After a sunset prayer, a large feast known as “iftar” is shared amongst  family and friends who have broken their fast. 

Muslims traditionally break their fast like the Prophet Muhammad did some 1,400 years ago, with a sip of water and some dates at sunset. 

Juices made from apricots are a staple at Ramadan iftars, while in South Asia and Turkey, yogurt-based drinks are popular.

Is anyone exempt from fasting? 

The elderly, pregnant women and diabetes sufferers are exempt from fasting in Ramadan.

Children are also not expected to fast, although they can join parents on 'half-fasts'.

Athletes are sometimes also given a waiver, such as Muslim players at the World Cup last year. But it is a personal choice.

What happens at the end of Ramadan?

Eid al-Fitr means "festival of breaking the fast" and marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Traditionally, it is celebrated for three days and is an official holiday in all Muslim-majority countries. 

Ramadan will end this year on or around Thursday July 7, depending on the sight of the moon.

Muslims will gather together at the mosque for a prayer, before spending the day with family or friends and wishing one another 'Eid Mubarak', or 'Blessed Eid'.

Source: standard

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