Even though Ramadan is observed annually by hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world, misconceptions and myths surrounding the Holy month still prevail.
From not being allowed to eat or drink at all for 29-30 days, to believing that the month is only about fasting and food, here are a few Ramadan myths that must be debunked:
Myth: Ramadan requires complete fasting for 30 days.
Fact: While the holiday does require Muslims to fast — the fast is also known as sawm — it is only done during the daylight hours. Many Muslims practice suhoor and iftar, or eating before the sun rises and after the sun sets.
Myth: Muslims fast because the religion says so.
Fact: While fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam, there is a lot more to Ramadan than just abstaining from food and drink. Ramadan is a time for prayer, reflecting upon the religion, cleansing the spirit, remembering others who are in poverty and spending time with family and friends. Ramadan is considered the holiest time of the year.
Myth: Everybody fasts — no matter what.
Fact: While the religion calls for fasting during this time, not everybody is required to participate. This includes young children, seniors, pregnant women, diabetics and others with medical needs. If possible, a person is expected to make up the lost time when they are able.
Myth: Ramadan falls at the same time every year.
Fact: A common practice in other religions, Ramadan actually takes place at a different time every year. This is due to the Islamic solar calendar, which follows the phases of the moon. During the ninth and final month of the year, the first crescent moon begins the holiday. This is also known as Hilal.
Myth: Ramadan requires Muslims to only abstain from food and drink.
Fact: There are several types of fasting. While some people abstain from food and drink, others additionally cut out everything that can distract them from their religious devotion. This can include listening to music, watching TV and smoking. Many Muslims also read the entire Qur’an during this time.
Myth: Brushing your teeth is not okay
Fact: Brushing one’s teeth is perfectly fine during Ramadan. In fact, maintaining good personal hygiene is considered to be very important within the religion. Islam places emphasis on both physical and spiritual cleanliness and purification.
Myth: You’re not allowed to swallow your own saliva
Fact: This is definitely not a rule and would be impossible. Ramadan is not supposed to be unrealistic, unattainable or unreasonable.
Myth: You must not eat in front of someone who is fasting
Eating in front of someone who is fasting is fine, and generally this will not bother Muslims, although of course this is subjective.
Fact: If you forget and eat or drink something, you have ruined your fast
Swallowing something accidentally does not break your fast. So if you take a sip or munch something in a forgetful moment and only realise afterwards, you may continue your fasting and it will still count.