|WHEN DOES RAMADAN BEGIN IN 2012?
The following information comes from ReadtheSpirit.com
Fast begins in daylight hours, Friday July 20 or Saturday July 21.
The actual beginning of the fast depends on many factors: Does one follow the lunar cycles with scientific instruments? Or does one start the fast only with eye-sight confirmation of the moon? What do leading imams in your region decide for the larger community? Is there an official schedule for your nation? News media reports across the Middle East and Asia are pointing toward July 21 for some regions, based on reporting by the Islamic Crescents’ Observation Project
. Across most of the U.S., the first fast is set for July 20: The Fiqh Council of North America
is led by Muslim authorities across the U.S. from a wide range of ethnic groups and both the Sunni and Shi’a sects. The Council accepts calculation of the new crescent moon, marking Ramadan, by using scientific instruments. So, the Fiqh Council declares for the U.S.: “The first day of Ramadan is Friday, July 20, insha’Allah.” (That final phrase means, “God willing.”) Then, the fasting month ends with a huge celebration (the “Eid u-Fitr
“), marked by a new lunar crescent that starts a new month. The Fiqh Council declares: “Eid ul-Fitr is Sunday, August 19, insha’Allah.”
MYTH: DURING RAMADAN, MUSLIMS EAT LESS
The world’s billion-plus Muslims certainly eat and drink less during daylight hours, but during the evenings-and, in some cultures and communities, all night long-Muslims enjoy a festive Thanksgiving-like relationship with their food and drink. This is a time of family gatherings; friends spend time together at mosques and in cafes; family matriarchs pull out all the stops in making favorite dishes.
How much extra food? The oldest English-language newspaper in the Middle East, the Egyptian Gazatte, reports that Egyptians are anxious about food prices as each Ramadan rolls around. A July 4 Gazette report explained to readers: “People eat 70 per cent more during Ramadan, according to a study conducted by the Chamber of Foodstuffs. Consumption of sugar and pastry increases even by 100 per cent, meat and poultry by 50 per cent and diary products by 60 per cent. The consumption of rice and wheat increases only by 25 per cent.”
Price gouging and price supports? In such a month, price gouging can be a problem and one UAE news publication reports: “Ministry of Economy’s office in the Emirates has intensified price checks to ensure that all outlets, including super markets, groceries, salons and maintenance service shops, are not increasing prices.” Recognizing the huge importance of Ramadan, the government of Pakistan actually provides national subsidies to needy families through thousands of regional food stores. The program provides bundles of typical foods families need to provide night-time meals, bought in mass quantities by the government, bundled into “Ramadan Packs,” then sold at a deep discount to low-income families.
RAMADAN AND THE OLYMPICS:
POSITIVE NEWS FROM THE UK
The Muslim calendar is based on lunar cycles. So, observances like Ramadan “move forward” through the world’s standard calendar. In 2011, Ramadan was entirely in August. In 2012, the start of fasting moves into mid-July and that’s a crisis for Muslim athletes competing in the 2012 Olympics.
In their Ramadan reporting, the Times of India and Reuters are citing a university study that, in a typical summer soccer match, an athlete loses 2 liters of body fluids. Fasting under such conditions seems impossible-but Islam traditionally exempts travelers from fasting as well as anyone for whom fasting poses a health risk. Olympic competitors might claim either exemption; and Muslim scholars are suggesting a range of other ideas from “making up” the fast later to donating funds for feeding hungry families.
Across the UK, non-Muslims are suddenly well aware of Ramadan in a positive way. Muslim athletes suddenly are talking about the depth of their faith-and their commitment to peacemaking and helping the poor during Ramadan. And there’s more! Muslim organizations in areas around the Olympic venues are welcoming both Muslim and non-Muslim visitors for Iftars (breaking-the-fast dinners after the sun sets). The UK grocery giant Tesco has set up a Ramadan portal within its website, already declaring: “Ramadan Mubarak.” Among the featured Tesco items are dates, traditionally the first bite each night as the fast is broken.