Ramadan will begin tonight after sundown – or will it?

In 2020 the month of Ramadan will begin at sundown tonight Apr 23. Will it? That depends on what kind of Muslim you are. If you are a Sunni Muslim it begins right at sundown  on Apr 23. If you are a Shiite you also have to see the crescent moon after sunset, in the twilight. This usually occurs one day later , so for most Shiites Ramadan starts Apr 24. Ramadan starts every year 10 or 11 days earlier than the previous year, so in a century Muslims have 103 Ramadan months, and also 103 years.

During Ramadan you must observe a total fast from sunrise to sunset if you are a Sunni, if you are a Shiite you must fast from dawn to the end of twilight. The fasting is total, no eating, no drinking even if there is risk of dehydration during the hot summer days. As an extra prohibition, no sexual relations or vomiting is permitted during this time, and if you are temporary ill you must make up the time later so the total time of fasting is 30 days. This has its problems in northern latitudes if Ramadan occurs in the Summer, especially near or above the polar circle, you could go for more than a month without eating or drinking, so they have set a time limit for fasting, it doesn’t begin before 3 A.M. and doesn’t end after 9 P.M. sun time, not standard or daylight savings time.

All Muslims are encouraged to pray five times a day, kneeling down with the face near the ground facing Mecca. Muhammad and his followers used to face Jerusalem, but when they moved to Medina they changed direction and faced Mecca to distinguish them from the Jews, who faced Jerusalem.

During Ramadan these prayers become mandatory. Normally a Mosque looks like this during Ramadan prayer

This year is different. You are supposed to pray at home, but when do you start your prayer? It matters greatly when you do it. Luckily there are apps available that will tell all the proper time to start your prayers for over 3 million locations.

The times are FAJR (crack of dawn), Sunrise, DHUHR ( a couple of minutes past the Zenith of the sun, ASR (afternoon), Maghrib (Sunset), ISHA (end of twilight) and finally QIJAM (night prayer) which is voluntary for all except for Sufis which have to recite all 99 names of Allah starting right at midnight sun time. The noon prayer is very important, it must be started a couple of minutes after the sun passes its Zenith. To pray right through noon would be offensive to Allah.

Being a Christian am thankful to be able to go to the throne of grace, praying directly to God the Father in the name of Jesus at any time of the day or night. The door is always open.

 

Published by

lenbilen

Retired engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, computer chip manufacturing and finally adjunct faculty at Pennsylvania State University, taught just one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

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