When is Ramadan 2023? Why do the dates change every year?

Each year, Muslims in the UK and around the world celebrate Ramadan. 

The holy period marks the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar and is a time of worship, fasting, prayer, charity, community spirit and spiritual development.

During the month, practicing Muslims will be refraining from eating and drinking anything from dawn until sunset. 

They will have a pre-fasting breakfast before the sun is up, and a post-fasting dinner at night time.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the religious month.

Each year, Muslims in the UK and around the world celebrate Ramadan. Pictured: a boy reading the Holy Quran during Eid 2022 in India

When is Ramadan 2023?

The 2023 Ramadan is expected to begin on March 23, with the first fast starting from 5:55am and ending at 6:20pm. The starting date is determined by sightings of the new moon.

The Islamic Relief website states that the last day of Ramadan will take place on April 21, with sunrise at 5:51am, and sunset taking place at 8:09pm.

What is Ramadan?

There are 12 lunar months superimposed over 12 solar months in the Islamic calendar, which means the starting date of Ramada changes every years by about 11 days per solar year.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it includes refraining from food, drink, sexual relations whilst striving extra hard to uphold righteous moral character.

Fasting is intended to strengthen “taqwa”, which can be translated as God consciousness. In addition to boosting spiritual discipline, abstaining from food and drink reminds the one fasting to be grateful of God’s bounties.

Muslims start their fast at the exact time the sun is due to rise every day and break their fast after the sun has set.

There is a pre-fasting meal before the sun rises, called Suhur. Upon sunset, the fast is broken – usually with water and dates as was the practice of the Prophet Muhammad. 

This is typically followed by the sunset prayer before a bigger communal meal known as Iftar, shared with family and friends.

Who is expected to fast?  

Children are not expected to take part in fasting before their reach puberty or the age of 14. 

People who are ill, travelling, menstruating, experience postnatal bleeding, or suffer from a medical condition can be excused from fasting. 

They can either fast at a later date to make up for it, or feed those in need as an act of charity. 

What else happens during Ramadan?

Palestinians shopping Ramadan decorations ahead of Ramadan in the Old Town of East Jerusalem on March 17 2023

Palestinians shopping Ramadan decorations ahead of Ramadan in the Old Town of East Jerusalem on March 17 2023 

Since Ramadan is the month of spiritual growth, practicing Muslims leave plenty of time for prayers.

On top of the five obligatory daily prayers, Muslims also take part in a special Ramadan prayer in the evening, called Tarawih (night prayer).

On the 27th night of the month, Muslims observe a special night, called Layat al-Qadr, or Night of Power. It is believed to mark the night the prophet Muhammad first received the Quran and is considered the holiest night of the Ramadan.

Muslims also try to help the disadvantaged during Ramadan with charities like Rumi’s Kitchen in London and Who is Hussain London designed to feed the homeless. 

What is Eid?

After Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which translates to ‘the festival of the breaking of the fast,’ also commonly called Eid.

Muslims put on new clothes to attend the Mosque, where they will recite a short period called takbeer and eat something sweet.

People are also expected to make a donation to charity called Zakat al-Fitr before taking part in Eid prayers and celebrations.

It is also commonplace for elders to give gifts and money to children and young relatives during the celebrations. People who wish to wish a happy Eid to their friends and family will use the phrase: ‘Eid Mubarak.’

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