Get Ramadan Ready
Ramadan is fast-approaching and with it comes a good deal of anticipation and excitement as Australian Muslims prepare for the holy month. If you’re still not quite sure what Ramadan is all about, allow us to attempt a demystification of the key points.
First things first, what is Ramadan, exactly?
Taking place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan’s dates vary year-to-year, as they’re dictated by the whim of the lunar cycles. Typically, though, the period drifts between February, March and April. During that time, practising Muslims of all nationalities partake in a period of introspection, communal prayer and fasting in an effort to strengthen their relationship with God.
Abstaining from food, liquids (yep, including water), bad thoughts and other vices from dawn to dusk, the days of Ramadan are marked by five prayers. The evening prayer brings with it ‘iftar’, which is the meal that breaks the fast. Iftar is usually a communal and celebratory affair with many night markets popping up during Ramadan to serve Muslims (and anyone, really) their evening ‘break fast’.
The month ends with the celebration of Eid al-fitr, which is a little like Christmas in that there is feasting, gifting, visiting family and friends, and prayer.
What are the Ramadan dates for 2023 in Australia?
This year, Ramadan begins on the evening of 22 March and runs until the evening of 20 April. Eid al-fitr is on 21 April.
What’s the deal with abstinence?
It’s all about self-restraint and improvement and the idea that a habit takes one month to form. So Ramadan gives every Muslim (or anyone who feels like joining in) a chance to reset and lock in some good habits during that time. They’re also encouraged to ask forgiveness and repent for any sins. As with every religion, there are varying degrees of piety. So not all Muslims will participate in the fast, nor will children or anyone unfit to abstain.
Cool, so what can we do to support our Muslim friends?
For a start, don’t be weird. Just because a Muslim in your presence isn’t tucking into the conference room sambos (perhaps they’re fasting, perhaps they’re just making good choices), doesn’t mean you need to refrain. Everyone is on their own spiritual journey and you don’t need to moderate your behaviour – that’s more likely to make everyone feel awkward.Of course, if you’d like to join the fast to experience Ramadan, you’re most welcome. You’re also warmly invited to join the nightly iftar at one of your local restaurants or Ramadan night markets. If you’re in Sydney, head to Ramadan Nights Lakemba and, for Melbournites, the Australian Malay Foundation usually host a bazaar during Ramadan, so check their Facebook page for details.
How do we say ‘Happy Ramadan’? Is that even a thing?
It certainly is. And we bet it will earn you some brownie points with friends and colleagues. ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ means ‘Happy Ramadan’, so feel free to bestow it on all participating as a show of support and understanding.
What food is there? After the fast, of course.
Well, what food isn’t there? Muslim populations span a great deal of the world’s most delicious culinary traditions, from Indonesian and Malaysian to Syrian, Turkish, Lebanese and Sudanese, as well as Pakistani and Uighur, to name just a handful. Head to the markets in your area or your closest Muslim community and you’re likely to encounter delicious Asian-style charcoal-grilled meats, Moroccan stews, fluffy Persian biryanis, sub-continental samosas, and sweets of halwa, baklava and Turkish delight.
Can we celebrate at home?
You can! Whether you’re observing the religious aspect or not, you can get into the spirit by enjoying some classic dishes from Muslim countries. We’ve compiled some delicious recipes to enjoy during Ramadan, so keep your eye on our weekly changing menus for dishes such as: