When is Ramadan this year, why do Muslims fast during Ramadan and why do the dates change?

Ramadan takes place on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims spend a month fasting, praying and reflecting within their community.

Ramadan is observed by Muslims all over the world, who commemorate their prophet Muhammad’s first revelation.

The fasting period during Ramadan is considered as one of the Five Pillars of Islam and it lasts for 29 to 30 days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.

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Here is everything you need to know about the Islamic holiday.

Muslim devotees offer a special prayer on the occasion of Eid-Al-Fitr festival, which marks the end of Ramadan. (Pic credit: Narinder Nanu / AFP via Getty Images)

When is Ramadan 2022?

Ramadan takes place from Saturday, April 2 to Sunday, May 1, 2022.

During this period of 30 days, all adult Muslims must fast from dawn to sunset as part of their religious obligation with the exception of those who are chronically ill, travelling, elderly, breastfeeding, diabetic or menstruating.

The pre-dawn feast is called suhur and the evening meal that breaks the fast is referred to as iftar. Fatwas have been imposed declaring that Muslims who live in regions with a midnight sun or polar night should follow the schedule of Mecca, though it is common practice to follow the timetable of the closest country in which night and day can be differentiated.

Muslims must not only avoid consuming food and drink, but also tobacco products, sexual relations and sinful behaviour, which help them to devote themselves to prayer, also referred to as salat, and recitation of the Quran.

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

There are many reasons why fasting is important for Muslims, the main motivation for fasting is to cleanse the soul of sin and have empathy for those in the world who are less fortunate.

Ramadan is a period of practising self-restraint and self-reflection.

The foundation of Islam comes from five key principles, which are also known as the Five Pillars of Islam: Shahadah, which is the belief in one God, Allah, Salat (prayer), Sawn, which is to fast, and Hajj.

The dedication of fasting during Ramadan encourages Muslims to remain close to their faith, seek absolution for past sins and to reap the benefits of the Night of Power, also known as Lailat-ul-Qadr, which marks the last 10 days of Ramadan. It is thought that any deed performed during this period carries more reward than the deeds of 1,000 months collectively.

Why do the Ramadan dates change every year?

Ramadan is determined by the Islamic calendar which is based on the cycles of the moon.

The moon travels the same path all year round and when it is observed in the east, it then travels towards the west.

So last year, Ramadan began on April 12 and ended on May 12, whereas in 2020, it began on April 23 and ended on May 23.