Allah – Arabic translation for God
Islam (religion) – the complete submission to the will of Allah
Muslim – a person that follows the teachings of the Quran, the holy book in Islam
Halal – Arabic word for “permissible”. It refers to food that that adheres to/follows the law of the Quran.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Hijri or lunar calendar, one with 12 months like the Gregorian calendar but either 354 or 355 (leap year) days. This year the Holy month will begin on the evening of 26 May and will end on the evening of Saturday 24 June. Ramadan is also a time of fasting and intense prayer for Muslims all over the world. For the thousands of Muslim students in Wuhan the fasting aspect of this Holy month is made especially difficult as it coincides with the blazing arrival of Summer heat and end of semester examinations.
Why the fasting?
Firstly, fasting is a voluntary reduction or abstinence in food eaten, beverages consumed or habits one usually follows (e.g. smoking). Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad at this point in the lunar calendar. The aim of fasting is to bring a person closer to Allah and it is also meant to make one more aware of and compassionate for the struggles of the less fortunate in society: the poor, the hungry, the homeless. Fasting during Ramadan is also seen as a time for self-control and as a “spiritual detox”: a way for people to get rid of unhealthy habits such as a use of vulgar language, smoking and alcohol consumption.
During Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and even a sip of water in between is enough to make a day’s fast invalid. So to prepare themselves for the month of fasting, some Muslims gradually cut down on food eaten as Ramadan approaches. During Ramadan, a pre-dawn meal called suhoor is eaten to help one get through the day.
After a sunset prayer, a daily fast is ended by a meal called iftar. This tends to be the most anticipated time of day, so the occasion is usually grand and sometimes meals are shared among Muslim and non-Muslim friends and colleagues.
Here are some of the restaurants in Wuhan that serve Halal food:
-those exempted from fasting include children, the sick, the elderly, pregnant and menstruating women. If a person is unable to take part in the tradition of fasting, feeding a hungry person or hungry people for each day of fasting is considered as an alternative.
-It is common to greet one another by saying “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem” during Ramadan. Both are wishes for a blessed or generous Ramadan.
-the end of Ramadan is called Eid and the greeting reserved for that period is “Eid Mubarak” (a blessed end to the period of fasting).