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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 2021 in the United Kingdom.

Ramadan dates and calendar 2021

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 12 April and will last until 12 May 2021, followed by the Islamic festivities of Eid al Fitr.

Ramadan in the UK

With nearly 2.8 million Muslims living in the United Kingdom, which equals about 4.8% of the population, Islam constitutes the second largest religion in the country, after Christianity. The largest Muslim community can be found in London. The municipalities of Bradford, Luton, Blackburn, Birmingham, and Dewsbury also have significant Muslim populations.

During Ramadan, Muslims in the UK and around the world celebrate the revelation of the Quran (Koran). Islamic businesses and organizations may amend opening hours to suit prayer times during Ramadan. There may also be some congestion around mosques, such as the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, especially in the evenings.

The London Central Mosque © mapandlens.com

Muslims around the world, including in the United Kingdom, celebrate Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours, praying, reciting the Quran, and by giving to charity. The traditions associated with Ramadan are most visible in the country’s many mosques and in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, such as Edgware Road in London.

Political leaders in the United Kingdom, including the prime minister, usually make public announcements on the first day of Ramadan to greet Muslims both locally and globally and to raise the general public’s awareness of the holiday’s importance among Muslims.

Rules and decorum – Ramadan 2021 amid the pandemic

The Ramadan fast (sawm) is one of the Five Pillars, fundamental religious duties of Islam, so most Muslims in the UK abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. The fast begins at dawn, right after the Suhoor meal, and lasts till the end of the day. It is broken with the Iftar meal, which consists of traditional dishes, juices, and desserts. During fasting hours, people avoid drinking, smoking, eating,  and engaging in sexual activities.

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.

The third national lockdown in London was confirmed on January 4 and came into force on January 6, with schools ordered to close as well as restaurants, shops and many more businesses. The strict new measures were introduced in a bid to curb a spike in rising coronavirus cases. The lockdown restrictions are expected to be eased from the month of March. Muslims in the UK are expected to brace through a different Ramadan scene this year.