Ramadan, the period of fasting for Muslims, has begun on 15 May.

Ramadan, the period of dawn-to-dusk fasting for Muslims has begun on 15 May for Muslims the world over and for those here in Luxembourg.

Lasting four weeks, those adhering to Ramadan will not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. During the period, Muslims should also avoid smoking and sex.

Wednesday 16 May is the first day of fasting. According to Saima Mehonic from the Islamic cultural centre of the north of Luxembourg (Centre culturel islamique du nord) in Wiltz, Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Mehonic explained that principally all Muslims, with the exception of those who would be detrimentally affected by fasting - such as people who are sick, should partake in fasting.

Some of those exempt from fasting are pregnant women or people with health issues. Usually, these people can participate in Ramadan at a later date which is more convenient. Children under the age of 18 can participate, but it is not compulsory.

Islamic calendar

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar as it is a lunar year, not a solar year.

The lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar year, which is why Ramadan starts ten days earlier each year when compared to the Gregorian year.

In spring time, the sun is in the sky for approximately 16 hours. Muslims fast between approximately 5am and 9pm. Saima Mehonic explains what her typical day of Ramadan looks like: the family wakes up early to eat and pray. After praying, the family goes back to sleep and wakes up once the sun has risen to go about their usual day. At around 9.15pm the family can eat as the sun has set. During the Ramadan period, Muslims have specific prayers to say.

Spiritual introspection

The purpose of Ramadan is to be a month of spiritual introspection and makes the experience of religion a more intensive one. Mehonic explained that when she is hungry but doesn't eat, as opposed to the other eleven months of the year, she goes within herself and reflects more.

Ramadan ends with the religious holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, which will take place on 14 June this year.