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The 5 pillars of Islam
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul with the traditional Ramadan lighting Mahya

The Ramadan ( Arabic رمضان, DMG ramaḍān  'the hot month') is the month of fasting for Muslims and the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar . According to the Islamic view, the Koran was revealed in it.

The Festival of Breaking the Fast ( Arabic عيد الفطر id al-fitr / Turkish Ramazan bayramı ) immediately after the month of fasting at the beginning of the following month, Shawwal isthe second highest Islamic holiday after the festival of sacrifice .


Position of Ramadan

The fasting month of Ramadan is given special significance by the Koranic statement, according to which it was precisely this month in which the

“The Koran was sent down (for the first time) as guidance for the people, and (the individual verses of the Koran) as clear evidence of guidance and salvation (?). Those of you who are now present during the month (i.e. not on the move) should fast in him. "

- Koran : Sura 2, verse 185

Sura 97 is also dedicated to the commemoration of the revelation of the Koran, in which it says:

“We sent him (i.e. the Qur'an) down on the night of destiny. But how do you know what the night of determination is? The night of determination is better than a thousand months. "

- Koran : Sura 97

On the basis of the previous Quranic statement, it is taken for granted that the night of divine destiny ( lailat al-qadr  /ليلة القدر / lailatu ʾl-qadr ) is one night in the month of Ramadan. Since one was not sure about the exact night of the revelation of the Koran, this night is mainly celebrated on the night of the 27th Ramadan, but also on other odd days of the last ten days of the month of fasting.

The last third of Ramadan is also of particular importance because it is during this time that the pious exercise of Iʿtikāf , the "separation" in the mosque, takes place.


From the Quranic verse already mentioned:

“The month of Ramadan is (or: (Lent is) the month of Ramadan) in which the Qur'an was revealed (for the first time) as guidance for the people, and (the individual Quranic verses) as clear evidence of guidance and salvation. Those of you who are now present during the month (i.e. not on the move) should fast in him ... "

- Koran : Sura 2, verse 185

and in connection with the prophetic instruction also mentioned "Fast only when you see her (the crescent moon - Hilal ), and only break the fast when you see her (again) ..." etc. the one month fast from sunrise to Sunset; According to unanimous interpretations of the Koranic exegesis ( Tafsīr ), the first part of sura 2, verse 184: “(Fasting is) a certain number of days (to be observed)” is therefore the subject of abrogation and thus lost its meaning in favor of the following verse: "Those of you who are present during the month (ie not on the road) should fast in him ..." .

According to the law, fasting is defined as abstaining (imsak) from certain activities: consumption of earthly substances and food as well as drinks, smoking, sexual intercourse and drunkenness. Every Muslim is obliged to fast who is in full possession of his mental powers ('aqil), of legal age (baligh) and physically capable (qadir). Fasting a discerning minor (mumayyiz) is also valid.

In addition to these practical aspects of compulsory fasting, there are several ethical and moral components that Muslims have to observe in Ramadan. It is essential to avoid defamation, slander, lies and insults of all kinds.

The fasting ( hem, siyam  /صيام, صوم / ṣaum, ṣiyām ) in the fasting month of Ramadan  /رمضان / Ramaḍān is one of the religious duties of Muslims anchored in the Koran . The original meaning of the word “ hem ” is derived from the verb swm in the meaning of “stand still”, “rest” and in a figurative sense “abstain”, “fast”. In the verses of the Koran written in Mecca, the term occurs only once; here Mary is commanded by revelation to speak as follows:

“And eat and drink and be of good cheer (with cool eyes)! And when you see (any) one of the people, say: I have vowed a fast to the Merciful. That is why I will not speak to any human being today. "

- Sura 19, verse 26 : Translation: Rudi Paret

Correspondingly, the term saum (fasting) is associated with “silence” ( velvet ) by the Koran exegetes - as a sign of celibacy that is characteristic of Islamic fasting in all areas of daily life.

State coercive measures against non-fasters

In a number of Islamic states, non-observance of the obligation to fast is prohibited by the state. In Saudi Arabia , even non-Muslims who eat, drink or smoke in public during the day in Ramadan are punished. In Morocco , state raids and arrests of youths who had picnics in Ramadan made headlines. In 2013, anyone who publicly violated the law of fasting in Morocco could face arrest. In 2008, six men in the Algerian town of Biskra were sentenced to four years' imprisonment and a fine of 1,000  euros for failing to observe the law of fasting. In Malaysia , fast breakers faced a prison sentence of up to six months in 2015, the equivalent of a fine of 236 euros, or both.

Exceptions to the obligation to fast

It was the task of Islamic jurisprudence in its various directions to determine the practical rules of fasting. But the Koran already allowed exceptions:

“And if someone is sick or is on a journey (and therefore cannot fast, he is) a (corresponding) number of other days (to make up for what has been missed). God wants to make it easy for you, not difficult. Therefore make the number (of the prescribed fasting days) full (by subsequent fasting) and praise God for having guided you! Maybe you will be grateful. "

- Koran : Sura 2, at the end of verse 185

Pregnant, breastfeeding and sick women as well as children (= people before puberty ) are not obliged to fast. Pregnant, breastfeeding and sick women must make up for the days missed after the reasons no longer apply. People who are unable to fast due to old age or illness should provide a fast replacement service, the Fidya or Fidyah .

Pregnant and menstruating women are exempt from fasting, but they are not prohibited from fasting. Missed days must be made up. It is statistically proven that the majority of pregnant Muslims fast anyway, and that this reduces birth weight and length of pregnancy. Physical and especially mental disabilities are much more likely if fasting is carried out during pregnancy (see also hunger metabolism and starvation and fasting ).

Beginning and end of Ramadan

The general rule

During the daily prayer ( salad  /صلاة / ṣalāt ) and the Islamic pilgrimage ( hajj  /حجّ / ḥaǧǧ ) are based on fixed times, the beginning and the end of the fasting month of Ramadan have always been contradictingly transmitted and discussed in Islamic traditions. The beginning of Ramadan shows the sighting ( ru'ya  /رؤية / ruʾya ) the new crescent moon (hilal) at the end of the last day / in the last night of the previous month Sha'ban. The basic type of these traditions in the canonical collections of hadiths as a directive of the prophet is:

“The month consists of 29 days. Do not fast until you see it (the crescent moon - hilal) and do not break the fast until you see it (again). And if (the sky) over you is overcast, determine it / var. completes the number of Sha'ban days / to 30 (days). "

- Hadith Abu Dawud, Book 13, No. 2312; al-Bukhari, Book 31, No. 130-131.

The sighting of the crescent moon ru'yat al-hilal  / is decisive for the beginning or the end of Ramadan.رؤية الهلال / ruʾyatu ʾl-hilāl by one or more witnesses. The role of astronomers ( munadschdschim ) and mathematicians ( ahl al-ma'rifa bil-hisab ), which did not yet exist in early Islamic society and which were later carried out solely through calculations ( hisab ) without sighting the, is controversial when determining the beginning of the month Crescent moon were trying to set the beginning of the month.

The instructions in the Koran

The instructions in the Koran:

“You believers! You are prescribed to fast, just as it was prescribed to those who lived before you. Maybe you will be godly. (The fast is) a certain number of days (to be observed). "

- Quran : Sura 2, Verse 183

did nothing to clarify the matter discussed in the late 7th century about the beginning and the end of the fasting month. The determination of the beginning of Ramadan gives rise to controversial discussions every year in the Arab-Islamic world up to the present day. Because the renouncement of the sighting of the new crescent moon as the beginning of Ramadan and the instead conducted astronomical calculation lead inevitably to the ignoring of the prophetic commandment “fast only when you see them (the crescent moon)”.

In Egypt , the first new light in Aswan determines the beginning of Ramadan, whereby the new light seen is reported to Cairo by telephone and then Ramadan is proclaimed.

The festival of breaking the fast

At the beginning of the tenth month of Shawwal, which is also determined by sighting the new crescent moon or, if in doubt, Ramadan is extended to thirty days, the festival of breaking the fast is celebrated ( 'id al-fitr  /عيد الفطر / ʿĪdu ʾl-fiṭr ), also called the "little festival" ( al-'id as-saghir  /العيد الصغير / al-ʿīdu ṣ-ṣaġīr ; in Turkish küçük bayram , ramazan bayramı or sugar festival şeker bayramı ). The festivities begin with the obligatory community prayer, after the compulsory donation, the alms tax of breaking the fast ( zakat al-fitr  /زكاة الفطر / zakātu ʾl-fiṭr ) paid to the needy no later than the 1st Shawwal. Since this festival of Lent puts an end to it, it is celebrated more happily and festively over three days than the “great” festival of sacrifice on the 10th day of the pilgrimage month.

Dates of Ramadan in the Gregorian calendar

According to the calendar practiced in Saudi Arabia , but not recognized by all Muslims, which calculates the months of the Islamic calendar on the basis of astronomical calculations instead of waiting for the actual sighting of the crescent moon, Ramadan in 2017 of the Gregorian calendar lasted from May 27th to June 24th (inclusive). For 2018, the period from May 16 to June 14 is specified, for 2019 from May 6 to June 3.

The calculated start and end dates for Ramadan between 2015 and 2025 were and are as follows:

Gregorian calendar Islamic calendar Start of Ramadan (calculated) Last day of fast (calculated)
2015 1436 18th of June 16th of July
2016 1437 6th of June 5th July
2017 1438 May 27th June 24th
2018 1439 May 16 14th June
2019 1440 5th of May 3rd of June
2020 1441 April 23 23. May
2021 1442 April 13th May 13th
2022 1443 2nd of April 2.May
2023 1444 March 23 April 21
2024 1445 March 11 10th of April
2025 1446 1st March March 30
Ramadan dates between 2015 and 2025. The table shows the calculated dates. The actual start and end of Ramadan can differ by one to two days.

The daily start and end of fasting

Fasting is assigned to the day, the breaking of the fast ( fitr / iftar ) to the night, whereby the Koranic directive:

"... and eat and drink until you can distinguish a white thread from a black thread at dawn!"

- Koran : Sura 2, verse 187

also required further clarification. The Qur'anic verse unequivocally calls for fasting to begin at dawn ( fajr ), when the first light and dark values ​​can be distinguished from one another. A more precise clarification was achieved by using comparable hadiths in traditional literature e.g. B. with the following wording: "Eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktum (to prayer - to salat al-fajr ) calls".

In the immediate continuation of this Quranic verse the end of the daily fast is described:

"Then keep fasting until night."

- Koran : Sura 2, verse 187

The diction of Revelation “until night” has also been discussed in more detail in this case, both from the Koran exegesis and from the hadith material, because there was an obvious need for clarification. The sunnah of the second caliph Umar ibn al-Chattab , who only performed the evening prayer (salat al-maghrib) at nightfall and only afterwards , shows that this does not necessarily mean just the sunset and the extinction of sunlight Fast broke. According to tradition, Muhammad speaks against this view: "God said: What I like best among my servants is whoever breaks the fast the fastest."

In view of the vague formulations of the Qur'an in Sura 2, Verse 187, legal doctrine had reached a more or less viable consensus regarding the daily beginning or end of fasting. In creating a uniform ritual, the time of sunrise or sunset was decisive, with the aim of dividing the dawn - the beginning of fasting - into time: dawn ( fajr ) according to the Koran with the first rising light and the "second dawn" ( al-fajr ath -thani  /الفجر الثاني / al-faǧr aṯ-ṯānī or al-fajr al-achir  /الفجر الآخر / al-faǧr al-āḫir ) the dawn, which spreads as a fine strip over the horizon. The latter was canonized as the time of the daily beginning of fasting; it is the dawn, the light of which - as it is called in the Hadith literature - “fills houses and paths with light”.

The fixation of the so-called sahūr (سحور / saḥūr  / 'the last meal before the start of the daily fast') in the last third of the night. This meal is not only a good way of bridging the upcoming fasting period of the coming day, but also a blessing power ( baraka ). The angels - so it is said in many traditions - will intercede for one who asks God for forgiveness at the onset of the first dawn, just as they intercede for one who has the sahur, the last meal at dawn. It is even the distinguishing feature between Islamic fasting and the fasting of the “owners of the scriptures” - Jews and Christians -, thus a distinguishing mark for a Muslim and one of the criteria of his religious affiliation. Consequently, this last meal is considered “recommended” in jurisprudence, or even a sunna to be followed. In the hadith literature there are even tendencies that seem to make eating this meal compulsory: "The food of the suhur is prescribed for you". In some areas it is customary for a wake-up drummer (musaḥḥir) to drumming and shouting through the streets before sunrise to wake the Muslims so that they can take their sahur .

There are different recommendations for Muslims who live in areas north or south of the Arctic Circle and therefore do not experience a change from day to night in the midnight sun (or polar night ). “The more liberal Egyptian theologians say: if the days last longer than 18 hours, the believers in Ramadan can follow the times of the holy cities of Mecca or Medina. […] The Orthodox Saudi Arabians, however, judge: As long as there is sunrise and sunset, these times must be strictly observed. Everything else violates the law of fasting, it says in their fatwa. Those days could be made up later. ”The European Council for Fatwa and Research recommended that the Muslims in Kiruna orient themselves to the times in Stockholm .


Fasting is likely to have been known to Mohammed as early as the Meccan period of prophecy , especially since the Jews and Christians living on the Arabian Peninsula at that time were already familiar with fasting as a religious institution. However, neither the descriptions of pre-Islamic cults nor the inscriptions and graffiti from the cultural area in which Islam originated indicate that fasting has Arab origins.

The first provisions on the type of fasting that can be documented in the Koran can be found in those verses of the Koran that arose in Yathrib / Medina after the emigration of Muhammad ( Hijra ). However, the formulations of these verses are rather vague besides their imperative character :

“You believers! You are prescribed to fast ... (The fast is) for a certain number of days. "

- Koran : Sura 2, verses 183-184

"184. O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you, as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you might protect yourselves - 185. A certain number of days. (...) "

- Quran : Sura 2, verses 184-185

Mohammed and his companions first joined the 'ashura festival in Medina, the day of atonement for the Jews living in and around Medina; On this day one fasts from sunset to sunset the next day and not, as in Ramadan, only during the day. According to the Islamic lunar calendar , this day, on which fasting has also remained a recommended act in Islam, fell on the 10th of Muharram ; for on this day of the first Islamic month Noah is said to have left the ark . In Mecca on this day - until the last century - the gates of the sanctuary of the Kaaba were opened.

In the second year (623–624) after Muhammad's emigration from Mecca to Medina, the Qur'anic verses in sura 2, verses 183–185 and 189 were the first step towards establishing an independent institution of fasting, new for the Islamic community, its completion and ritual law Regulation, however, should be reserved for legal theory. The structure and sequence of content of these verses show that they were not revealed simultaneously but in separate parts; the famous scholar al-Baidawi († 1286 or 1292/93), Kadi in Shiraz , is not alone with this view in Koran scholarship.

Thus, the emergence of the Ramadan fast and the associated obligations can be seen in a short historical process; the individual revelation sections together with their contradictions in content, which were partly annulled by the Koran itself and partly by the hadith, originate - as indicated - from the early Medinan period of prophecy from the 2nd year of emigration (623-624).

The determination of the time aspects of fasting was thus incumbent on religious jurisprudence . Through the Fiqh the z. Some of the non-binding statements of the Koran are specified and filled with content.

See also


  • Peri J. Bearman et al. (Ed.): The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. Brill, Leiden 2004, ISBN 90-04-14114-6 (1 CD-ROM).
  • Georg Jacob : The Muslim month of fasting Ramadan. In: Annual report of the Geographical Society of Greifswald. Volume 6, Part 1, 1893/1896, ZDB -ID 517435-1 , pp. 1-33.
  • Klaus Lech: History of the Islamic Cult. Legal historical and ḥadīṯ-critical studies on the development and systematics of ʿIbādāt. Volume 1: The ramaḍān fast. Part 1. Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1979, ISBN 3-447-01943-3 .
  • Bertold Spuler : Con Amore, or: Some remarks on the Islamic calendar. In: Islam. Volume 38, 1963, ISSN  0021-1818 , pp. 154-160.
  • Kees Wagtendonk: Fasting in the Koran (= Dissertationes ad historiam religionum pertinentes. Volume 2, ZDB -ID 281799-8 ). Brill, Leiden 1968 ( English ).
  • Arent Jan Wensinck , Johannes H. Kramers (Hrsg.): Concise dictionary of Islam. 2nd Edition. Brill, Leiden 1976, DNB 821257994 .
  • Annemarie Schimmel : Allah, Koran and Ramadan - everyday life and tradition in Islam . Patmos, Ostfildern 2012, ISBN 978-3-8436-0167-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Ramadan  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: month of fasting  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. upi.com
  2. de.qantara.de
  3. latimesblogs.latimes.com
  4. http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/ramadan-marokko100.html ( Memento from April 10, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  5. wluml.org
  6. ↑ The Islamic Authority punishes Muslims unwilling to fast , nachrichten.at
  7. Douglas Almond, Bhashkar Mazumder: Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment. The Effect of Maternal Fasting During Pregnancy (= National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Papers Series. 14428, ISSN  0898-2937 ). National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge MA 2008, online .
  8. ^ Rolf Krauss : Sothis and moon dates. Studies on the astronomical and technical chronology of ancient Egypt (= Hildesheimer Egyptological contributions. Volume 20). Gerstenberg, Hildesheim 1985, ISBN 3-8067-8086-X , p. 23.
  9. staff.science.uu.nl , accessed January 30, 2015.
  10. Ramadan.de , information about Ramadan
  11. a b The Principal Islamic Days of Observance according to the Umm al-Qura Calendar
  12. The Principal Islamic Days of Observance according to the Umm al-Qura Calendar , staff.science.uu.nl
  13. Ramadan around the world: stress test under the midnight sun. Der Spiegel , June 28, 2014, accessed June 29, 2015 .
  14. Ramadan in Sweden with no dusk, no dawn. Al Jazeera , July 7, 2014, accessed June 29, 2015 .