This week marks the start of Ramadan for more than a billion Muslims around the world. Muslims who observe Ramadan will begin month-long fasting during the daytime.
However, Ramadan fasting could be seen as a “sign of extremism” in some places. For example, Uyghurs Muslims were "forced to eat" at Ramadan, and Uyghur Muslims fasting in China's Xinjiang area could end up in the Re-education camp.
What is Ramadan actually? We've asked Dhoha, our local team leader in Tunisia what Ramadan is about. And why this month is important to Muslims.
1. What is Ramadan?
This is a holy month in Islam. For many Muslims who observe Ramadan, it is a time to become closer to God. We will fast for the whole month which is considered as one of the five pillars of Islam.
2. When is Ramadan?
Ramadan begins at the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar when the new crescent moon is first seen.
The exact start date of Ramadan is confirmed when the moon is spotted by a moon-sighting committee, often made up of government officials and religious scholars. This is a holy month in Islam and we will fast in the whole month.
3. How does fasting work?
We will fast from dawn to sunset. We will eat before the sunrise, we call this meal "suhoor" and break the fast at sunset, we call that means "iftar". We will focus on our prayers and will not eat or drink during the daytime.
4. What will you do during fasting?
Just like a normal day. Muslims are not supposed to avoid work or school during Ramadan.
5. What else will you do during Ramadan?
It is also a time of joy and for spending time with one’s family, and giving to charity and those in need.
The end of Ramadan is also marked with the sighting of the crescent moon, marking Eid-al-Fitr, which should be in the second week of May.