Ramadan 2014: Muslims Begin Fasting Today; Coincides with World Cup

Muslim holy festival Ramadan that is observed with one-month fasting all over the world began on Saturday, June 28, after clerics confirmed sighting of the new moon. Muslims all over the world observe fasting from dawn to dusk and eat only in the night.

Muslims believe that the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan and the occasion is sacred for them. The mark Ramadan going without food and liquids or smoking during daylight hours throughut the month.

Moon Sighting:

Usually, Ramadan or Eid al-Fitr dates are declared by moon-sighting committees, as it is timed to meet the new moon in each country.

The Union Moon Sighting Council declared that the Ramadan for the year 1435 Hijrah will start on Sunday and the Gulf region will observe fasting from tomorrow.

The Fiqh Council Of North America, however, said Saturday would be the first day of Ramadan. “The dates of Ramadan and Eidul Fitr for the year 1435 AH… will be on Saturday, 28 June 2014 and 1st of Shawwal will be on Monday, 28 July 2014,” the Fiqh Council said in a statement.

In Arabic “eid” means “festivity” and “fitr” means to break a fast. Common greetings for the holiday include “Eid Mubarak!” or “Eid Saeed!” or “Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair!”.

The day before Eid al-Fitr families typically donate food such as rice, barley or dates to the poor, known as “sadaqah al-fitr” or charity of fast-breaking. Eid also marks the first day of the first month of Islamic calendar Shawwal.

On Eid, Muslims wake up early, eat only snacks before attending special prayers at mosques, arenas or stadiums, and then go on to feast at friends or relatives’ houses, although hotels and restaurants also organize lavish end of Eid spreads. It is also a day for asking for forgiveness and visiting graves of relatives for Muslims.

World Cup & Ramadan:

For the first the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2014 has coincided with Ramadan. Some European teams, which are pushing ahead in matches include Muslim players too and they are France, the Netherlands and Germany. Even Germany’s Mesut Ozil, France’s Karim Benzema and Belgium’s Morouane Fellaini will have to decide whether to observe fasting or wait till the World Cup is over.

Algeria and Nigeria, are the two major Muslim nations which have qualified for the knockout stage or “Ring of 16”.

In fact, the UAE was granted exemption from fasting in 2012 during the Olympics in London.

Ramadan Discounts:

Dubai tops in Ramadan discounts, which include small gifts in exchange for spending money in stores. Shoppers also spend their money on Arab sweets and dates to break the fast when the sun sets and people invariably buy new clothes for Eid al-Fitr, the end of the fasting period.

More than celebrating the end of fasting, Muslims thank Allah on this holy day for the strength he gave them to fast during the entire month.

Photos (Courtesy: www.freegreatimages.com)

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