RAMADAN, the fasting month for Muslims worldwide, is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar
calendar, each month being twenty-nine or thirty days depending on the physical sighting of
the new crescent born today. The new crescent will be sought at sunset today Tuesday 13th
April. As the moon will only be a few hours old, it is expected that the first day of Ramadan
will be Wednesday 14 April 2021 .
Ramadan is a month of spiritual renewal and individual transformation, which adherents
strive to maintain throughout the year; so it serves as an annual refresher in self-restraint and
discipline, strengthening relationships through fostering one’s personal relationship with the
Divine. During Ramadan, Muslims reset their priorities and reflect on the Qur’ānic question:
“Where, then, are you going?” It is a time to review one’s direction in life in a state of self-
discipline, inward calm and clarity, and heightened mindfulness of God, as well as in selfless
dedication to others.
Fasting, a central feature of Ramadan, is the religious obligation on all healthy adult
Muslims, and is similar to the fasting traditions of many other faiths. It seeks to substitute
consumption for a deeper self-discipline and gratitude to God for the abundance of His
blessings; for providing long life and good health, and for helping us to provide for those in
need. It fosters empathy and compassion for those requiring food, clothing and shelter, and
helps us live with generosity and solidarity with the most vulnerable and deprived.
Fasting involves abstaining from eating, drinking, and sexual activity from dawn until sunset,
which in New Zealand this year lasts about 12 hours from approximately 5:30am to about
5:30pm (days will shorten as the month progresses). Night prayers, reading and reflecting on
the Holy Qur’ān, and an increase in the practice of one’s faith are features of the holy month
of Ramadan. Physical restraint complements a mental and spiritual reset: essentially a ‘detox’
of mind, body and soul. Ultimately, fasting is the fasting of the heart from all inward ills:
from arrogance and envy to slander and selfishness. Divine reward is reserved for each
individual’s Divinely-witnessed sacrifice. The ultimate aim is an intimate relationship with
Employers may consider adjusting working arrangements such as allowing for an early start
and early finish or other basic practices such as working through lunch to return home for
fast-breaking. At the same time, fulfilment of the duty entrusted to employees by
employers remains a spiritual concern in this spiritual month. Colleagues might carry out a
trial abstinence for their individual benefit or in solidarity for a cause or the needy, or for the
health benefits of fasting. Fast-breaking time is the culmination of the spiritual day: the
moments before fast-break are for reflection and supplication to God. Dates, nuts and fruits
are the common snacks for fast-breaking.
Ramadan ends with the annual festival of Eid, which includes prayers and a sermon followed
by celebrations. As with the start of Ramadan, the day of Eid depends on the sighting of the
new crescent, which will be sought at sunset on 12th May, and if the new crescent is sighted
Eid will be on the 13th, or otherwise 14th May. Eid celebrations* will continue over the weekend.
This season of Ramadan is one of commitment, compassion, sharing and celebration — and
now more than ever, human solidarity.
Notes supplied by Aarif Rasheed, former trustee, and Jamal Green, Trustee, of the Religious
Enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
An additional Note:
*It is possible that, in the event of a resurgence in COVID-19, restrictions may mean a very
different Ramadan, if it should happen that mosques are required to be closed. Such a
situation would result in the cancellations of all congregational prayers including the
cancellation of Ramadan night prayers at all mosques and Islamic centres, all communal fast-
breaking and all communal activities. This was the case in 2020.
In addition, the annual festival of Eid, like Friday prayers, can only be formed in
congregation. Again, if there were a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, there would probably be
no Eid prayers able to be performed depending on government restrictions. Nevertheless,
should that be the case, Muslims believe that they would continue to receive the same or even
greater reward as if all these prayers were performed, in addition to the great reward for
complying with religious obligations to uphold safety and restrictions in the interests of the
country’s overall health. This is based on foundational objective of the Islamic Shariah which
is the preservation of life.