During the month of Ramadan, adult and healthy Muslims must abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. However, there is more to Ramadan than a mere abstention from food and drink. It symbolizes an act of obedience that every Muslim has to do, following the prophets’ footsteps. Ramadan is also the month during which one must show piety and ask for forgiveness for their sins.
This year (AH 1440-1441), Ramadan is due to start around May 5, 2019, while the “Night of the Doubt” will probably take place, at the Grand Mosque of Pairs on May 4. It will determine the first day of the holy month of Ramadan during AH 1440-1441.
The first day of Ramadan is usually determined through astronomy, theology, traditions, politics, and science. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the first day of Ramadan is marked by the sighting of the crescent moon with the naked eye. While many countries choose to rely on the choice of Saudi Arabia, others, notably Qatar, choose a different approach: The United Arab Emirates prefer astronomy.
In the old continent, the European Council for Fatwa and Research also chose to follow the Emirati method. Several organizations, including the Union of the Islam Organizations in France, chose to follow the same method, while others do their own calculations. Other organizations are increasingly choosing the crescent moon method to establish their lunar calendar in advance, which makes it possible to anticipate the beginning of Ramadan.
Will Ramadan of this year have a more peaceful start than back in 2013? Six years ago, a war of dates ensued between the CFCM and the Grand Mosque of Paris. The CFCM, based on the astronomical calculation, set the first day of fasting on a Tuesday, while several mosques, including that of Paris, announced the beginning of Ramadan on Wednesday. According to the Theological Council of the Paris Mosque, the fact that the vision of the new moon was impossible to determine neither in France nor in Muslim countries during the night of Monday to Tuesday implied a postponement to the following day. Since 2013, the various French organizations have tried to calm the debate. However, the CFCM, the mosques and the Muslim Theological Council of France (CTMF) are trying to impose their vision of things.
While the French law prohibits to count the French based on their religion, France counts between 5 and 10 million Muslims. The month of Ramadan is therefore an opportunity for Muslims in France to practice their religion. More than 70% of Muslims in France, even 80%, would fast. The end of the holy month is celebrated by the festival of fast-break, Eid-el-Fitr, with festivities taking place in Paris and throughout France.
Ramadan is also an opportunity for the agri-food industries to boost their business. As the holy month approaches, most of the retail chains start offering specific products for breaking the fast. According to Solis, the month of Ramadan in France equals more than 350 million euros in expenses. This year, the economy during the month of Ramadan should once again be in full swing: household food consumption generally increases by 40% during the holy month, with each household spending an average of 394 euros for Ramadan.
Small shopkeepers – butchers, grocers – also fill up during the month of Ramadan. Supermarkets are indeed still reluctant about creating a “Ramadan aisle”, preferring other names such as “oriental flavors”, although 9 kilos of Halal meat out of 10 are still sold by butchers. This year, however, supermarkets will try to multiply their offers of lamb meat, oriental pastries, and dried fruits.
Spending the month of Ramadan in a country like France can sometimes be difficult. Indeed, it is not easy to practice one’s religion during the holy month in a country where the majority of the people are Christian or atheist. In general terms, the practice of fasting questions more than it hinders. Many non-Muslim French people ask questions. Do not hesitate to answer it, to explain your approach. This will make nonpractitioners understand and accept your religion.
Fasting, however, requires some precautions: that is why children who have not reached puberty, sick people (diabetics for example) or women in late pregnancy are exempted from fasting. According to Dr. Delabos, who wrote « Eating well during Ramadan », it is necessary to choose and divide the food during the fast break, between the sunset and sunrise. The doctor recommends avoiding dairy products, processed foods, low-fat foods, and over-sweetened sauces.
For Dr. Delabos, as Ramadan of this year falls during the summer, it is better to eat two meals a night, where in winter it is recommended to take three: for the first meal (Iftar), eat savory and sweet in small quantities. For the second meal (Suhoor), remember to eat well to avoid any failure during the next day. It is also important to hydrate yourself by drinking water and avoiding sweet drinks. Pastries must also be eaten in small quantities.
During the day, it is recommended to avoid the heat and the sun, to avoid dehydration. Air conditioning can also be a source of dehydration, so be careful. It is also best to take an early afternoon nap since the meals you have eaten during the night will have significantly reduced your sleep time. Finally, in case of health concerns, it is possible to stop fasting during Ramadan and make up for fasting days during the rest of the year.
In addition to all the news concerning the month of Ramadan, LeMuslimPost will provide you with a daily Suhoor and Iftar schedule, as well as a more general calendar for the month of Ramadan. Our objective is to guide throughout the month of Ramadan so you could spend it in the best conditions. LeMuslimPost team wishes a Ramadan Mubarak to Muslims in France and all over the world.