Tonight, June 17 is the beginning of Ramadan, a month of fasting observed by Muslims around the world to commemorate the Islamic belief in the first revelation of the holy Qur’an to the Prophet Mohammed. Ramadan occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar and is based upon visual sightings of the crescent moon, with the fasting lasting between 29 and 30 days. During the month of Ramadan Muslims refrain from consuming food or liquids, smoking, and having sexual relations from dawn until sunset. It is also meant to be a time to avoid all sinful behavior such as fighting, cursing or lying. Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is obligatory under the faith for all adult Muslims except for the ill, traveling, elderly, pregnant, or breast-feeding. Food and drink are served before dawn and after sunset during the month. Ramadan will end in the evening on July 17 this year, when the large Eid al-Fitr celebration will take place.
According to the Pew Research Center, Islam is the fastest growing religion around the world, with a 73% increase in the global Islamic population expected between 2010 and 2050, from 1.6 billion to 2.8 billion. Muslims currently account for over 23.2% of the global population, second among religious groups only to Christians who account for 32% of the world’s population.
The map below shows the percentage of the Muslim population by country in 2014 according to the Pew Research Center:
Written by: Christopher Ewell, AGS Intern on June 17, 2015