© Provided by The iRamadan is being observed under the Covid-19 pandemic for a second year (Photo: Getty)
The holy month of Ramadan is almost upon us, with Muslims around the world preparing to observe the fast under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic for a second successive year.
The already gruelling process of the period of abstinence also has the potential to create confusion because the fasting times are based on sunrise and sunset, and so change from day to day as Ramadan progresses.
Here's how that works, alongside fasting times for worshippers around the UK throughout the holy month.
When are the Suhoor and Iftar?
During Ramadan, the Salat (daily prayers) take on increased significance, both because the holy month is considered a time of reflection and purification and also because they shape the hours of the fast.
- Fajr: observed before sunrise
- Zuhr: observed after noon
- Asr: observed in late afternoon
- Maghrib: observed after sunset
- Isha: observed at night
Every day of Ramadan, Muslims eat the pre-fast meal called the Sahoor, which is take before sunrise and culminates with the day's first prayer, the Fajr.
The fast isn't broken until sunset with the Iftar meal, which precedes the Maghrib, the fourth prayer of the day.
Ramadan coincides with the approach of summer and the days gradually increasing in length, which makes the fasting period progressively more challenging as worshippers near the end of the holy month, and the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
But while the fast will be almost two hours longer at the end of this year's Ramadan than its first day, there is at least the consolation that it falls almost a fortnight earlier than last year's festival, with shorter days as a result. © Provided by The iThe start date of Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the crescent moon (Photo: AFP/Getty)
UK Ramadan timetable
Both the Central London Mosque and the East London Mosque have compiled Ramadan timetables, which give worshippers in the capital all the information they need to observe the fast correctly.
Here are the key timings day-by-day for Fajr and Maghrib - when the fast begins and ends - in London for the Muslim holy month.
The start and end dates are contingent on the moon sighting which signifies when Ramadan begins, which is this year expected on Monday 12 April.
Ramadan timetable (Time Fast Begins, Time Fast Ends)
- Mon 12 April: 4:36am, 7.56pm
- Tue 13 April: 4.34am, 7.57pm
- Wed 14 April: 4.32am, 7.59pm
- Thu 15 April: 4.30am, 8.01pm
- Fri 16 April: 4.27am, 8.02pm
- Sat 17 April: 4.25am, 8.04pm
- Sun 18 April: 4.22am, 8.06pm
- Mon 19 April: 4.20am, 8.07pm
- Tue 20 April: 4.18am, 8.09pm
- Wed 21 April: 4.15am, 8.11pm
- Thu 22 April: 4.13am, 8.12pm
- Fri 23 April: 4.11am, 8.14pm
- Sat 24 April: 4.08am, 8.16pm
- Sun 25 April: 4.06am, 8.17pm
- Mon 26 April: 4.04am, 8.19pm
- Tue 27 April: 4.01am, 8.21pm
- Wed 28 April: 3.59am, 8.22pm
- Thu 29 April: 3.57am, 8.24pm
- Fri 30 April: 3.54am, 8.25pm
- Sat 1 May: 3.51am, 8.27pm
- Sun 2 May: 3.49am, 8.29pm
- Mon 3 May: 3.46am, 8.30pm
- Tue 4 May: 3.45am, 8.32pm
- Wed 5 May: 3.42am, 8.34pm
- Thu 6 May: 3.40am, 8.35pm
- Fri 7 May: 3.37am, 8.37pm
- Sat 8 May: 3.36am, 8.38pm
- Sun 9 May: 3.33am, 8.40pm
- Mon 10 May: 3.31am, 8.42pm
- Tue 11 May: 3.29am, 8.43pm
- Wed 12 May: 3.27am, 8.45pm
It should be noted that these timings only hold for the capital - because of the varying times of sunrise and sunset across the rest of the UK, there are variations depending on location.
Fortunately, the charity Muslim Hands has provided the following helpful guide to adjust the fast timetable to apply to where you are:
- UK variations relative to London (Time Fast Begins, Time Fast Ends)
- Birmingham: (8 minutes later, 6 minutes later)
- Bradford: (9 minutes later, 8 minutes later)
- Cardiff: (13 minutes later, 12 minutes later)
- Glasgow: (22 minutes later, 40 minutes later)
- Leeds: (7 minutes later, 4 minutes later)
- Liverpool: (12 minutes later, 9 minutes later)
- Manchester: (10 minutes later, 7 minutes later)
- Middlesbrough: (8 minutes later, 14 minutes later)
What is Ramadan?
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam - the fundamental rules all Muslims follow - along with the Shahadah (declaration of faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (charity) and the Hajj pilgrimage.
It is when Muslims are required to spend 30 days observing fast during daylight hours, as a means of celebrating and reflecting on their faith.
Ramadan is based on the cycle of the moon, meaning that the dates are different from year to year, and cannot be predicted precisely.
However, this year the holy month is expected to begin on the evening of Thursday 23 April, and end on Saturday 23 May.
During Ramadan there is an increased offering of the Salat, with Muslims giving thanks to Allah and reflecting on their lives.
Beyond fasting, Muslims are also encouraged to read the Quran, with the holy text recited at the Tarawih, special nightly prayers held throughout the month.
Ramadan literally means "scorching heat" in Arabic, and marks the month when the Quran is said to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad by God via the archangel Gabriel in 610 AD.