beginning, intermediate

Some basic expressions for Ramadan

In this article we’ll be looking some basic words and expressions concerning Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

Happy Ramadan!

There are a couple of common expressions to wish someone a happy Ramadan, the first of which is this:

رَمَضان كرِيم.
ramaḍan kariim.
literally: ‘Ramadan is nobel/generous.’

The usual reply to this expression is:

اللهُ أَكْرَم.
’al-laahu ’akram.
literally: ‘God is more nobel/generous.’

An alternative expression to رمضان كريم ramaḍaan kariim is this sentence:

رَمَضان مُبارَك.
ramaḍan mubaarak.
literally: ‘Ramadan is blessed.’

Fasting and not fasting

The verb meaning ‘to fast’ is يصوم yaṣuum, but when talking about whether someone is currently fasting, the active participle صائم ṣaa’im is usually used. Active participles behave like adjectives with respect to gender. so صائم ṣaa’im is masculine singular and صائمة ṣaa’im is feminine singular. The active participle فاطر faaṭir (feminine: فائطرة faaṭira) is used to indicate that someone is not fasting. Here are some examples.

سلوى صائمة.
salwaa ṣaa’ima.
‘Salwa is fasting.’
هل أنتَ صائم؟
hal ’anta ṣaa’im?
‘Are you fasting?’
لا، أنا فاطر.
laa, ’anaa faaṭir.
literally: ‘No, I’m not fasting.’

The meal eaten to break one’s fast at sundown is called الإفطار ’al-’ifṭaar, which literally means ‘breakfast’.


After fasting comes feasting

At the end of the month of Ramadan comes a holiday called Eid al-Fitr (spellings in English vary), which involves much celebration and feasting:

عيد الفطر
ʔiid il-fiṭr
‘Eid al-Fitr’

To wish someone a happy Eid in Arabic, we use the all-purpose equivalent to the English ‘many happy returns’, which can be used for virtually any annually recurring event (birthdays, New Year’s, Christmas, etc.). Since this expression in Arabic has a word meaning ‘year’ and since Arabic has two different words for that, the expression also has two basic forms (given here as you would say them to a man):

كلّ سنة وأنتَ بخير.
kull sana wa ‘anta bi khayr.
كلّ عام وأنتَ بخير.
kull ʕaam wa ‘anta bi khayr.
‘Many happy returns.’

The literal meaning of this expression is something like ‘Every year you are well.’ The response to both versions to this expression is this:

وأنتَ بخير.
wa ‘anta bi khayr.

If you want to say any of these expressions to a woman, change أنتَ ’anta ‘you (masc. sing.)’ to أنتِ ’anti ‘you (fem. sing.)’ . To say it to a group of people, change it to أنتم ’antum ‘you (masc. pl.)’.

I hope you found this article useful!


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