Ramadan 2017 began yesterday evening (Friday May 26), and lasts until Saturday June 24.
For 29 days, Muslims will fast between dawn and dusk in what is considered the holiest day of the Islamic calendar.
The Prophet Mohammed explained: “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”
Muslims believe that on the 27th Day of Ramadan (Laylat Al Qadr, or the Night of Power), God revealed the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed.
Throughout the month, millions will study the Quran, pray and contemplate their religion.
- What do fasting Muslims do in countries where the sun never sets?
- Petition calls for Muslim festival of Eid to be made a holiday
Is Ramadan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem correct?
Ramadan Mubarak is the most common greeting used by Muslims, and translates to “have a blessed Ramadan”.
Ramadan Kareem is another phrase often used, however there is some debate as to whether it is appropriate.
Some say that the phrase, which means “may Ramadan be generous to you”, goes against the teachings of Islam because Ramadan itself cannot be generous.
As Saudi Arabian scholar Sheikh Al-Uthaymeen explained, “it should be said ‘Ramadan Mubarak’, or whatever is similar to it, because it is not Ramadan itself that gives so that it can be kareem (generous), in fact it is Allah who placed the grace in it, and made it a special month, and a time to perform one of the pillars of Islam”.
Ramadan: Muslim boys hugging on Eid al-Fitr
Ramdan: Muslims breaking their fast
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Others argue that Kareem is acceptable, because the wording reflects the blessings that God gives to his followers during the month.
Jordan’s Iftaa’ Department, which is responsible for religious decrees, last year ruled: “Describing Ramadan to be honourable does not in fact attribute the quality to the month.
“Rather, the word comes from the fact that God gives his worshippers blessings during the month.
“It’s thus acceptable to call the thing by the name of its reason or cause. The ruling could be seen as an example of synecdoche, in which a part of something is taken to stand for its whole, or vice versa.
For those who would rather avoid the debate, Happy Ramadan is a perfectly acceptable alternative.
The month of Ramadan Sat, May 27, 2017
Muslims mark the holy month of Ramadan with fasting and prayer.
Play slideshow AFP/Getty Images 1 of 75
Indonesian Muslims offering prayers on the third night of the holy month of Ramadan at the Istiqlal grand mosque in Jakarta
When does Ramadan end?
The final day of Ramadan this year falls on Saturday June 24.
The following evening marks the start of Eid al-Fitr, the festival of the breaking of the fast.
On this day, Muslims will gather at mosques to pray before holding family gatherings and feasts.