What is Ramadan, the Holy Month of Islam?

Ramadan is the most sacred time of year for Muslims. It’s when the faithful across the globe celebrate the holy month of Islam, fast, worship, and do time-honored Ramadan activities with their community.

While the world knows Ramadan, there might be a few things that non-Muslims are not yet aware of. Does every Muslim need to observe fasting during Ramadan? And what should you do when you’re around your Muslim friends? In this article, let’s dive into the common questions about this holy season.

What is Ramadan?

For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of reflection, sacrifice, renewal, and spiritual growth. It’s believed to be the month when the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelations of Quran, the holy book of Muslims, from Allah, through the angel Gabriel.

During Ramadan, Muslims follow certain rules and practices, the most significant of which is fasting. It’s one of the Five Pillars of Islam(opens in a new tab or window), or the core beliefs and practices that define the religion. Every day for the entire month, healthy Muslims don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset as a form of spiritual discipline. This observance brings them closer to Allah and brings out their compassion for fellow men, as they’ll understand what it’s like to go without. Some groups of people are exempt, like children who haven’t reached puberty, people with medical conditions, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.

Other Ramadan restrictions include sexual activity, smoking, impure thoughts, and bad behavior, as Muslims devote this period to strengthening their relationship with Allah and purifying their faith. Take a look at this Ramadan folded card template, which reminds the faithful to stay true to the path of goodness.

When is Ramadan?

Ramadan takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle. This means that the exact dates of Ramadan vary every year, beginning and ending with the new moon. In fact, the faithful all over the world celebrate the crescent moon sighting,(opens in a new tab or window) which heralds the start of Ramadan.

In 2023, Ramadan is expected to begin on March 22 and end on April 21.

History of Ramadan

Ramadan has been celebrated by the Islamic world for over 14 centuries since “The Night of Power,” when, according to Muslim tradition, the angel Gabriel revealed the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. The word Ramadan originated from the Arabic word “ar-ramad,” which means scorching heat.

Ramadan traditions and observances

Though the month is marked by fasting, there’s more to Ramadan than abstinence from food. It is, after all, a solemn celebration that brings the Islamic community together.


Suhoor is an important part of Ramadan fasting as it is Muslims’ first meal of the day. This is typically eaten about half an hour before dawn. It’s important to take the suhoor, as it will sustain them and give them enough energy for up to 15 hours of fasting. In some countries, Muslims who observe fasting will wake up to the sound of drums as drummers announce suhoor.


After sundown, Muslim families and friends gather together to break the fast with a meal known as iftar. Dates are often the first thing that they eat, as many believe that the Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with them. However, the food served during iftar vary according to culture and country.

Iftar is also celebrated with the wider community, with people inviting guests and holding events. Check out this customizable iftar dinner invitation template:


Because Ramadan is a time for piety and faith, Muslims gather at the mosque to recite prayers with the entire community. On top of the Salah, where Muslims pray facing Makkah (Islam’s holiest city) five times a day: at dawn (Fajr), noon (Dhur), mid-afternoon (Asr), sunset (Maghrib), and after dark (Isha), there are also Ramadan night prayers known as Tarawih. These are encouraged but not mandatory.

Eid al-Fitr

Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, also known as the Feast of Fast-Breaking. It starts the day after Ramadan ends and lasts for three days. Muslims have celebrate Eid al-Fitr in many ways, including gathering friends and relatives, praying, sharing meals, and exchanging gifts.

Ramadan etiquette for non-Muslims

If you’re around Muslim friends who are observing Ramadan, and you’re quite not sure what to do to be respectful during this sacred time, here’s a quick etiquette guide. It will help you figure out the do’s and don’ts when you’re with Muslim loved ones during Ramadan.

1. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions about Ramadan

There’s no denying that many non-Muslims don’t know a lot about Ramadan. But don’t worry, most people won’t mind if you ask them about it. In fact, they’re more than welcome to answer your questions to help you better understand its spiritual significance. So, the next time you meet Muslim friends, ask respectfully and considerately what you want to know.

2. Don’t be afraid to greet Muslims a “Happy Ramadan”

Greeting your Muslim friends a “Happy Ramadan” isn’t offensive. On the contrary, it’s a great way to show support and thoughtfulness. Most Muslims greet each other by saying “Ramadan Mubarak” (Happy Ramadan), and you can, too. Another popular greeting is “Ramadan Kareem,” which means “Have a generous Ramadan.” Trust us, your Muslim friends will appreciate your greetings.

The greeting for Ramadan changes on the last day; people would greet each other “Eid Mubarak,” which means “Have a blessed celebration.” And for a holy season like this, a nice greeting card always does the trick.

3. You don’t need to fast

Fasting is one of the most important practices during Ramadan, but just because you’re around Muslims doesn’t mean you have to fast, too. You’re more than welcome to fast with them, but you’re not expected to.

4. It’s okay to eat in front of Muslims

It’s alright to eat in front of your Muslim friends during Ramadan. By and large, it’s not considered offensive, nor does it make their fasting more difficult just because you’re munching on your packed lunch or drinking a glass of cold water. Many Muslims have been fasting during Ramadan for many years, so they’re pretty used to being around people who eat in front of them while they fast.

5. Don’t make jokes about your Muslim friends who are fasting

Fasting is a sacred practice for Muslims, and they aren’t doing this for fun or diet. They’re doing this for their faith, so any offhand comments are better left unsaid.

How do you wish someone a Happy Ramadan?

Here are several greetings for Ramadan you can tell your Muslim friends during and after the holy Islamic month.

  • Ramadan Mubarak = Happy Ramadan
  • Ramadan Kareem = Have a generous (or blessed) Ramadan
  • Eid Mubarak = Blessed feast or blessed celebration

Design your own Ramadan greeting cards with Canva

What better way to let your friends know you’re celebrating Ramadan with them than with thoughtful messages?

Canva’s creative templates for Ramadan greeting cards(opens in a new tab or window), folded cards(opens in a new tab or window), and invitations(opens in a new tab or window) let you make your own cards in just minutes, even without design skills. Our intuitive editing platform makes designing easier through our drag-and-drop interface. All you have to do is select a template then drag and drop all the elements you need. You can add photos too, and if you need to touch them up, our photo editor(opens in a new tab or window) is free.

Whether you want something simple or ornate, you’ll never run out of designs to choose from.

Once you’re done editing, save and download your design. You can also share it online straight from Canva and be one with your friends in celebrating Ramadan.

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