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The holy month of Ramadan is considered the holiest and most sacred month of the Islamic Hijri (lunar) calendar. Muslims firmly believe that it was during this exalted month that the archangel Gabriel descended from the heavens and revealed the Message to the Prophet Muhammad.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to elevate their level of spiritual and physical submission to God by way of fasting; that is to say, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and also husband-wife intimacy from the breaking of dawn until the setting of the sun.
As we prepare to welcome the holiest of months, here are the dates, calendar and guide to spending Ramadan 2023 in Belgium.
Ramadan dates and calendar 2023
The arrival of Ramadan has always been associated with a certain amount of mystique and contemplation. The exact date of the month’s beginning is traditionally determined by religious scholars/authorities under the cover of night as they seek to observe certain sightings related to the appearance and cycle of the moon.
This year, Ramadan is expected to be upon us starting from 22 March and will last until 21 April 2023, followed by the Islamic festivities of Eid al Fitr.
Ramadan in Belgium
The Muslim communities in Belgium are only about 5-6% of the country’s population. Considering this, it is not surprising that Ramadan isn’t one of the predominant festivals of Belgium. The holy month is best experienced in the Muslim-majority areas and neighbourhoods.
Moreover, the long daylight hours pose an additional challenge to those observing the fast. Daytime can extend up to 16.5 hours a day in Belgium, leaving the Muslims to endure extra hours of fasting. This is then followed by praying session, pre-dawn meals, and rest in the little remaining time.
During Ramadan, the Great Mosque of Brussels and other Islamic centres hold the Tarawih congregational prayers and religious lectures for the Muslim communities. Families and friends come together to celebrate the month-long festival and share the meals. Community meals are arranged as a sign of brotherhood and affection. It is also not unusual for Muslims to invite over Christian and Jewish friends for Iftar.
Rules and decorum
As the population of Belgium is not Muslim-majority, there are no special laws regarding the holy month of Ramadan.
However, as a sign of respect to the Islamic beliefs and culture, it is better not to eat, drink, or dress inappropriately in public places in Muslim-dominated locales.