Ramadan 2019: When can you eat during Ramadan?

Muslims all over the World will fast in unison this month, refraining from food, drink and sin for Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth and most sacred month on the Islamic calendar. The importance of the month is reflected in the Quran when the prophet Mohammed said: “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.” As such, Muslims use the month to fast, pray and self-evaluate, as their good actions mean more with the gates of heaven open.

When can you eat during Ramadan?

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside the testimony of faith, prayer, charity and pilgrimage to Mecca.

The practice is designed to allow people to focus on their relationship with God, and feel compassion for those who have to survive without regular food.

All Muslims are compelled to participate, save for those who are pregnant, young, old or sick.

Those who fast will do so only from sunrise to sunset.

Muslims are only permitted to eat, drink smoke or have sex during the time before sunrise and after sunset.

Practitioners will eat a meal named the suhoor before dawn and the iftar after sunset as their only two food allowances of the day.

This means most meals people eat are protein-rich, so as to last them for 12 hours of fasting per day.

The times Muslims can eat tend to differ in the Sunni and Shia sects.

Sunni Muslims break their daily fast at sunset when the Sun is not visible over the horizon but there is still daylight.

Shia Muslims will wait until nightfall when the Sun has completely disappeared over the horizon.

Breaking the fast ‘invalidates’ your fasting, and you have to start over again the next day.

Practitioners can make up for missing the day by fasting at a later date, or by providing a meal to someone in need.

However, in Muslim countries like Pakistan breaking the fast is illegal, whether you are a member of the religion or not.

In these countries, fasting can be dangerous, as intense temperatures (often reaching 40C and above) compounds the effects of starving the body from nutrients.

The punishment for refusing to fast is a fine ranging from 50p to £1.50 (10 to 300 Pakistani rupees) for individuals, or £3.50 (650 rupees) for a business.

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