When is Ramadan 2021?
Ramadan 2021 is expected to start on Monday 12th April and to finish on Tuesday 11th May, with Eid-ul-Fitr starting on Wednesday 12th May. These dates are subject to change as per the official sighting of the moon.
What is Ramadan?
The month of Ramadan is the ninth of the Islamic calendar. In this auspicious time, all eligible Muslims are obligated to fast from dawn to sunset (this is one of the Five Pillars of Islam). While fasting, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, impure thoughts and partaking in any ill-natured acts. Ramadan is closed with a festival or celebration, Eid-ul-Fitr.
The daily fast is opened with a meal just before dawn, called Suhoor, which precedes the first prayer of the day. The fast is closed shortly after sunset with a second meal – Iftar – which typically starts with dates and water.
Although charitable giving is a big part of Islam, the rewards given for Ramadan charity are manifold. One of the types of Zakat is Zakat-ul-Fitr (also known as Fitrana), which allows less fortunate people to join in the blessed Eid celebrations. Fitrana donations must be made before Eid prayers commence for the money to reach those in need, in time for the festivities.
What is the Meaning of Ramadan?
Translated from Arabic, the literal Ramadan meaning is ‘burning/scorching heat’ – this is because the month of Ramadan, the ninth in the Islamic calendar, usually falls at a hot time of the year in the Arab world. The reason why this month is so significant for Muslims is that Ramadan is the month that Allah (SWT) first revealed the holy Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Muslims fast and pray more than usual during Ramadan to feel closer to Allah (SWT). The abstinence and self-discipline help us focus all our efforts on worship, which is why many Muslims choose to recite the Holy Qur’an during this month.
What is Eid-ul-Fitr?
Eid-ul-Fitr translates to “festival of breaking the fast” and is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar, subject to the sighting of the moon which signifies the end of Ramadan. Eid-ul-Fitr typically lasts for two or three days and during this time Muslims are not allowed to fast.
To mark the start of Eid, people will dress in new or clean clothes and enjoy a family breakfast, before attending special Eid prayers. Celebrations during Eid include many special meals and feasts with family, friends and loved ones, exchanging gifts and giving children presents.
The official start date of Eid-ul-Fitr 2021 is estimated to fall on 12th May, subject to the moon sighting.
Fasting in Ramadan
Fasting (Sawm) is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is an act of obedience and submission to Allah’s (SWT) commands through the highest degree of commitment, sincerity and faithfulness to seek the mercy of Allah (SWT), to atone for sins, errors, and mistakes, and to avoid condemnation. Every adult Muslim of sane mind must complete the fast during Ramadan aside from the elderly, sick and some other exempt groups.
What is Fasting?
Fasting involves abstaining from food, drink and sinful acts between the hours of dawn and sunset during every day of Ramadan.
Who is Exempt from Fasting?
- Children who have not yet reached puberty
- Those not of sound mind
- The elderly (although they should offer one Muslim in need either a full meal or its value each day)
- The sick or frail
- Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or travelling.
What is Niyyah or Intention of Fasting?
The Ramadan fast and other acts of worship are not valid unless they are accompanied by the proper intention, because the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Actions are but by intentions, and everyone shall have but that which he intended…”
(Bukhari & Muslim)
Intention (Niyyah) is an action of the heart. It is obligatory (wajib) for a Muslim to intend in his or her heart to fast on the following day. However, there is a difference of opinion on whether this should be announced.
What is Suhoor?
Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal – the last meal before beginning the fast. It is a blessing and as such, it is recommended but not essential. For fasting, any consumption of food or drink must cease before Fajr prayers. Thus, Suhoor ends at Fajr and you cannot eat at the time of Fajr Azan (call to prayer).
What is Iftar?
Iftar is an Arabic term which means breaking the fast (immediately after sunset). It traditionally consists of a snack of dates and water, chosen because of their hydrating and nutritious qualities, although it is not obligatory to break the fast with these.
The following actions will break a day’s fast:
- Intentionally consuming food, drink, or medicine
- Having an injection which has a nutritional value
- The beginning of menstruation or postnatal birth bleeding
Having a blood test will not break your fast.
What is Fidya?
For those who cannot fast for any valid reason (such as the elderly or ill), compensation must be given by feeding a poor person for every day of fasting not observed. Young and healthy individuals who are travelling or suffering from an illness must make up for any missed fasts.
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran, 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.
Translation of Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:185
How to Calculate Fidya
The cost of Fidya for each day of missed fasts is to feed a poor person two meals in one day, either by monetary payment or by supplying the wheat, rice or staple crop yourself. This is 1/2 Saa in the Hanafi school of thought or 1 Saa in the Shafi and other schools. 1 Saa equals approximately 3 kilograms.
The Fidya price for an individual should be based and calculated on the price of whole wheat, rice or the local staple crop where the person resides. In the UK, the current Fidya price is £4 per person per day, although prices may change for Ramadan 2021.
What is Kaffarah?
If you deliberately miss a fast without a valid reason, then you must either fast for an additional 60 days or make a charitable donation to feed 60 people, at the same rate required for Fidya.
What is Fitrana?
Fitrana is another name for Zakat-ul-Fitr which is a compulsory Ramadan donation. Fitrana donations are taken to allow the less well-off to enjoy the Eid festivities along with the rest of the Muslim community. With that in mind, this donation should be made during Ramadan and before Eid prayers begin at the latest.
Adults should pay for themselves and for children or others in their care who are unable to pay for themselves.
Charity work in Ramadan is believed to bring multiple rewards to an individual although it is thought that none of these will come if Zakat-ul-Fitr donations are not made.
Can a Sick Person Fast?
A sick or unwell individual should only fast if s/he can do so. Otherwise, s/he is excused from fasting however fidya will be due for each incomplete day of fasting. Sickness does not refer to small pains or headaches – there should be a medical condition that stops the person from fasting.
Can a Pregnant Woman Fast?
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are exempt from fasting during Ramadan. However, any missed fasts must be made up after she gives birth, feels able to fast and becomes pure from nifaas (the blood which is discharged from a woman's womb during or after childbirth). She must either fast the same number of days that were missed or pay Fidya as charity to those in need. The amount of fidya must be equal to the cost of her food for a day, for each missed fast.
How Long Does a Person Have to Make up Missed Ramadan Fasts?
There is nothing wrong with making up missed Ramadan fasts during any other days of the year, except for the following prohibited days:
- Eid al-Fitr,
- Eid al-Adha and the three days after.
- Women are also not able to fast during menstruation.
What is I'tikaf?
Aitekaf, or Itikaaf, is seclusion in a mosque (or home, for women) for worship during the last ten days of Ramadan.
What is Laylat-ul-Qadr?
‘Indeed, We sent the Quran down during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.’
Laylat-ul-Qadr (the Night of Power) was reported to occur within the last 10 days of Ramadan.
“Seek it in Ramadan in the last ten nights. For verily, it is during the odd nights, the twenty-first, or the twenty-third, or the twenty-fifth, or the twenty-seventh, or the twenty-ninth, or during the last night.”
Here are a few suggestions to help you during the Holy month of Ramadan and prepare you for Laylat-ul-Qadr:
- Plan ahead if you intend to spend the night in prayer
- Take regular breaks during the night to avoid exhaustion
- Try switching between different forms of worship
- Perform Itikaaf, and if possible, take a holiday for the last ten days of Ramadan
- Increase your performance of Salah (prayer) and with full attention
- Find out if there are any events organised and take your family along
What is Tarawih?
These are special Sunnah prayers completed in Ramadan which are prayed following the Isha prayers. A minimum of eight and a maximum of twenty Rakat (units) are offered in pairs.
“Ibn ‘Abbas narrates that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the most generous person, and he would be at his most generous in Ramadan because Jibril would come to him every night and he would rehearse the Quran with him.”
What is Sadaqa?
Sadaqa is an optional, extra charity that may be given at any time of the year, in any amount or number. Although it is voluntary, Muslims are encouraged to donate Sadaqa to help those in need for social and welfare purposes throughout the year.
If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you, and He will remove from you some of your misdeeds [thereby]. And Allah with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted.
Translation of Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:271
What is Zakat?
“Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakat will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.”
Zakat is the third Pillar of Islam, translating to ‘that which purifies’. Giving Zakat is a means of purifying your wealth and soul. Its amount depends on the quantity of wealth and the type of assets you possess. Paying Zakat is obligatory for all Muslims of sound mind whose total annual wealth meets or exceeds the current Nisab value. The rate is 2.5% which is paid based on capital assets such as cash, gold and silver.
“Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveller - an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.”
The following conditions are required for paying Zakat:
- 2.5% of a Muslim’s total annual wealth above the nisab threshold is payable as Zakat
- This wealth must have remained above the nisab value for a full Islamic year
- Zakat must be paid to those who are deserving and in need, as laid down in the Holy Quran and explained by the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)
What is Eligible for Zakat?
Zakat, at the rate of 2.5%, must be paid on any assets that exceed the nisab value. This minimum value is calculated based on the market price of 85 grams of gold or 595 grams of pure silver. These assets must have been owned for a full lunar year.
Zakat is payable on the following items:
- Rental income
- Personal income
- Gold and silver
- Livestock and cattle
- Crops and agricultural produce
- Produce of mines
Who is Eligible to Receive Zakat?
The Quran (9:60) outlines eight categories of people who are eligible to receive Zakat donations. These are:
- The poor – those without any means of livelihood and material possessions
- The needy – those without sufficient means of livelihood to meet their basic needs
- The administrators of Zakat – those appointed to manage and administer Zakat
- The sympathisers – those who are inclined to enter or who have already converted to Islam
- Slaves – Zakat can be used to free slaves or captives
- Those who are in debt – Zakat can be used to pay off the debts of a person who has borrowed to pay for necessities. Zakat can also be distributed to those in financial difficulties, such as bankruptcy due to loss of employment and heavy debt
- For the sake of God – Zakat can be used to finance any form of struggle or work for the love of Allah (SWT). This includes building and developing society’s infrastructure, helping the oppressed, assisting poor travellers, and sponsoring a student’s educational expenses
- Those who are stranded during a journey – Zakat can also be used to help a traveller facing difficulties in continuing his journey due to reasons such as loss of money or the breakdown of vehicles