Ramadan Mubarak Meaning and Why Some Say Ramadan Kareem Instead

Ramadan Mubarak is an Arabic phrase that translates to "blessed Ramadan." It is a greeting used during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims that lasts for 30 days. This year it began on April 12 and ends on May 11.

Another Arabic greeting used during the month is Ramadan Kareem, which translates to "generous Ramadan." Some people use this greeting instead of Ramadan Mubarak.

Both phrases are among the greetings used during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

Which greetings are appropriate?

Khaled Boudemagh, a Dubai-based language expert, told Gulf News: "Ramadan is a month of generosity, therefore wish Kareem. Muslims help each other and give sadaqa or zakat [forms of charity] more during this month for spiritual reasons.

However, "the way people greet each other would obviously change depending on the spoken language," he explained.

For example, in France it is common to say Bon Ramadan, which translates to "good Ramadan," he noted.

"However in the UAE [United Arab Emirates], Ramadan Kareem [generous Ramadan] or Ramadan Mubarak [blessed Ramadan] is generally used," Boudemagh noted.

The Arabic phrase Allahu Akram, which means "God is much more generous," is considered an appropriate response to give when greeted with Ramadan Kareem, according to Yousra Zaki at Gulf News.

Mubarak Alaikum Al Shahar, which translates to "may this month be a blessed one," is another Arabic greeting commonly used during Ramadan, Emirati Khadija Ahmed Behzad, founder of the Meet the Locals group, told Gulf News.

"We accept good wishes in all forms. This is the Year of Tolerance. Islam also stresses on people's freedom to practise their own religions. The important thing is to be kind, courteous and good-mannered," she said.

When is the appropriate time for Ramadan greetings?

Boudemagh said: "People greet each other when Ramadan has officially been announced the night before starting the fast."

Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr, a festival that marks the breaking of the fasting period. It begins on May 12 this year and can be celebrated for up to three days.

"At the end of Ramadan, on Eid Al fitr and after morning prayer, we say Eid Mubarak, meaning 'blessed festival'. Muslims generally visit their family, friends during the three days to wish them a blessed Eid. In both cases, we also wish them a good year ahead [Kul sana' wa antoum bikhayr]," Boudemagh said.

The ideal time to send Ramadan wishes is before the period begins, according to Behzad. "But we don't meet everyone earlier. So it's okay to wish them when you do even during the holy month," she added.

Ramadan,  Eid al-Fitr
An Indian Muslim woman offers Jummat-Ul-Vida prayers on the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Jama Masjid in the old quarters of New Delhi on May 31, 2019. Getty/NOEMI CASSANELLI/AFP