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Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem: Meaning behind the Ramadan 2021 greetings explained

While the holy month is restricted by Covid-19, some traditions will endure, such as the customary ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ and ‘Ramadan Kareem’ greetings

The first Ramadan moon rises over the giant Faisal Mosque in Islamabad on May 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / FAROOQ NAEEM (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images)

By David Hughes

April 14, 2021 4:58 pm

For the second year in succession, the observance of the Ramadan will be a very different affair to usual due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, some traditions will endure, such as the customary “Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Kareem” greetings – even if these might be delivered on Zoom or FaceTime once more.

What do ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ and ‘Ramadan Kareem’ mean?

The more common of the greetings during the holy month is “Ramadan Mubarak”, which translates from the Arabic word meaning “blessed” – the phrase therefore means “Blessed Ramadan”, often used in the same way as wishing somebody a “Happy Ramadan”.

“Ramadan Kareem” is less commonly used, but translates as “Generous Ramadan” – while the phrase can be used as a greeting in a similar way to “Ramadan Mubarak”, it can also describe Ramadan in another context.

There is some debate around whether using “Ramadan Kareem” is appropriate, given that the expectation of generosity can be considered against the principles of fasting and prayer central to observing the holy month.

However, others argue that the greeting can appropriately refer to the generosity of acts towards others. Khaled Boudemagh, described by Gulf News as a Dubai-based language expert, said: “Ramadan is a month of generosity, therefore wish Kareem.”

Both “Mubarak” and “Kareem” are also given names in Arabic, which carry the same meanings as bestowed in the Ramadan greetings.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - APRIL 23: Mosque staff participate in special prayer during the eve of Ramadhan on April 23, 2020 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As Malaysian muslims welcome the holy month of Ramadhan, the Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the Movement Control Order (MCO) will be extended for the 4th time which will end on 12th May 2020. (Photo by Rahman Roslan/Getty Images)
Ramadan is being observed under the Covid-19 pandemic for a second year (Photo: Getty)

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 the 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.

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 the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by Allahvia the archangel Gabriel.

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