The Muslim holy month of fasting – Ramadan – begins on May 17 (Thursday).
Ramadan is observed to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad as per Islamic belief.
For one month, Muslims observe a pre-fast meal before dawn called the suhur. The first prayer of the day is called Fajr.
At sunset, Muslims break their day-long fast, usually with three dates. The food taken post-fasting is known as iftar. After that the fourth of the five prayers – the Maghrib – is offered. Then the main meal is served.
Here are 10 basic rules for fasting during Ramadan
1. Pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding and physically and mentally ill people are exempted from fasting during Ramadan.
2. People who are travelling or engaged in labourous work or women on their periods may skip fasting for some days and make up for the days later.
3. Children should not be forced to fast during Ramadan. It’s not compulsory for them till; they reach puberty.
4. Muslims should abstain from smoking or chewing gums during fasting hours of Ramadan.
5. If you are not fasting, even then you should not eat, drink or smoke in public. You may take away the food and consume in private.
6. The Islamic Association of Raleigh says if a Muslim eats or drinks due to forgetfulness, a mistake, or coercion, then his fast is still valid. He can continue his fasting. Only if eating or drinking is intentional, the fast will be invalid.
7. If a fasting Muslim falls sick an vomits unintentionally, his fast will still be valid.
8. In case one goes for sexual intercourse while Ramadan fasting, the person must perform kaffaarah to get purgation from sin. The Islamic Association of Raleigh says the offender has to fast for 60 days at a stretch or feed 60 poor people.
9. Taking a shower, rinsing the mouth and nose without exaggeration are allowed during fasting.
10. The Islamic Association of Raleigh says Muslim scholars have agreed that taking injections for nutritional or medical purposes is allowed during Ramadan fasting.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.