Ramadan is the holiest month of the year as per Islam. During the month of Ramadan Muslims across the world, observe rigorous fast from dawn to dusk. Ramadan lasts for around 30 days. These 30 days are extremely important for every devout Muslim. Kids and adults fast during these 30 days to seek mercy from Allah. Ramadan marks the journey of spiritual enhancement. These 30 days teach empathy, self-control, discipline, compassion, and mercy.
Objective of fasting during Ramadan is to come closer to God. Muslims believe that when they fast, they realize that Allah has provided them with bountiful food throughout. This helps them in expressing their gratitude to Allah. It also helps them in understanding the plight of those who are less privileged than they are. Ramadan is not only marked by fasting, but also marked by various acts of charity. Many Muslims believe that alms given during Ramadan are blessed with at least 70 times the reward from Allah. Ramadan epitomizes increased ‘zakat’ and ‘salat’. In other words, increase in charity and prayers are synonymous with Ramadan.
History of Ramadan
The term Ramadan derives its roots from the Arabic word ‘Ramida’. ‘Ramida’ means scorching heat. The month of Ramadan is said to scorch the sins ad evil away from the hearts of Muslims. Ramadan is considered to be the month of repenting on your wrong doings and seeking forgiveness. Ramadan is also considered to be the holiest month because it was during this month that the initial verses of Quran were revealed to Prophet Mohammad. Devout Muslims spend the month of Ramadan fasting, reading verses from Quran, offering Salat (prayers) and helping the needy.
‘Sawm’ or fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is for this reason that Muslims fast during the holy month. It is a unique way to make you realize the value of all good things that Allah has bestowed on them. These things are generally taken for granted. ‘Sawm’ is also said to cleanse your thoughts and mind. Fasting is not recommended for those who travel or those who are not in good health.
Fasting for 30 days of Ramadan is considered to bring the heart closer to the Almighty. During this month, there is total focus on spiritual enhancement. This month is also looked at as the month of cleansing of mind, body and soul. Every pious Muslim looks forward to this month.
Calculation and prediction of Ramadan
Ramadan is calculated as per the Islamic calendar, which is based on the moon. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. An imam is said to predict the start of Ramadan. Beginning of Ramadaan is dependent on sighting of the moo. A crescent moon marks the beginning of Ramadan.
Dates of Ramadan may differ as per the solar calendar or the Gregorian calendar. Ramadan dates move ahead by ten days every year in the solar calendar. This is largely because Ramadan is predicted only by sighting the moon. Different countries may begin the fasting on different days owing to the dependence on sighting of moon.
Rituals /Practices during Ramadan
Fasting or ‘Sawm’ is the most essential practice of ramadan. Muslim start their ‘Sawm’ at the dawn. Before fasting, they cleanse their bodies by bathing and offer their first prayers to the Almighty God. Fasting usually starts at 5.10 am. Before the ‘Sawm’ starts, the family shares the breakfast together. This is done in order to have lasting energy throughout the day. This breakfast is known as Sahoor. After the Sahoor, all the family members offer their first prayers namely Fajr to almighty. Second set of prayers is offered in early afternoon as the third set of prayers is offered in the late afternoon. Muslims break their fast after the sunset. Dates are used for breaking the fast. Muslims are encouraged to break their fast together. This is known as Iftaar. Muslims then offer their fourth set of prayer known the Maghrib prayer after breaking the fast. After dinner, muslims go to the mosque and then offer the fifth set of prayers. This prayer is known as Isha.
After offering the Isha ki namaaz, the Maulvi reads out the verses of Quran and special prayer called taraweeh is offered. Ramadaan lasts for 30 days. During this 30 days, each Muslim is encouraged to help the needy. Last ten days of Ramadan are considered to be the most spiritual days of the entire year. 27th night of the month of Ramadan is considered to be night of destiny. 27th night of the month is called laylat-Al-Qadir. Muslims, across the globe, stay awake the whole night and recite the prayers and verses from Quran.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims not only abstain from food and drinks but also abstain from sex and unlawful things. They steer clear from sinful speech, sinful thoughts or sinful behavior. Zakat or charity is one of the most essential rituals of the holy month. During these thirty days of fasting, all the Muslims try and help those who are in need.
Any individual who has attained puberty is supposed to fast during the month of Ramadan; however, there are exceptions to this rule. Individuals who are travelling or who are not well should not fast. Women should not fast during their menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Lactating mothers are also exempt from fasting. Missed out fasts should be made out quickly. Children above eight years can fast voluntarily.
End of Ramadan
After 30 days of fasting during Ramadan, Eid-Ul-fitr is celebrated. Eid-Ul-fitr is celebrated a day after sighting of the crescent moon. Eid-Ul-fitr is celebrated with great enthusiasm and love. Different types of delicacies are prepared for Eid-Ul-fitr. Relatives and friends exchange gifts and clothes on the day of Eid-ul-fitr. Children seek blessings from their elders and they receive Eidi,( gifts or money ) in return.
In cases where seeing the moon becomes difficult due to weather conditions, Eid-Ul-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of next month. Next month as per Islamic calendar is ‘Shaawal’
More Ramadan Resource
- Ramadan messages from easyday
- Ramadan Poems wirtten by rodel
- Teaching of Islam from Kozikodan
- Ramadan Cards from 123greetings.com
- Ramadan Recipes from cathy