Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic hijri calendar and a blessed month most keenly awaited by more than a billion Muslims across the globe.Many traditions are tied to Ramadan, and there is much to know about the month.
The word Ramadan is derived from an Arabic root word ‘rm’, denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. Just like a blazing fire eats up wood, fasting in Ramadan expiates the sins of a Muslim. Deprived of food and drink, a Muslim also realizes the blessings he has been bestowed with and feels empathy for those who are less privileged and needy.
During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims seek mercy from Allah, repent from sins and find redemption from hell fire. This is done by fasting with a sincere heart, praying a great deal, reading the Qur’an, forgiving people, being kind to others and giving charity to the poor.
It was during the month of Ramadan that the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the cave of Hira in Mecca. Muslims all over the world observe this special month by fasting, praying, giving charity, reciting the Quran and abstaining from food and drink from dawn to dusk as an act of worship.
All healthy Muslims, men and women, rich and poor, old and young are expected to fast from sunrise to sunset in Ramadan. People who are physically or mentally unwell, travelers, pregnant or menstruating women, and young children are exempt from fasting.
A fasting person abstains from food, drink and physical relationship with the spouse. In addition to this, he must also abstain from all unlawful things that can nullify his fast. He must refrain from lying, backbiting, quarreling, slander, swearing, cheating and using offensive language. All day long, he should try to stop himself from all acts of sins and transgression, otherwise he will not gain any blessings from his fasting.
In Ramadan, Muslims eat the pre-dawn meal called ‘suhoor’ before making the intention of fasting. They break the fast in the evening by eating fresh or dried dates with water as soon as the sun has set in the meal called iftar.
Muslims, who spend the days of Ramadan in fasting and the nights in earnest prayers with devout faith, have been given the glad tidings of Paradise
The last ten days of Ramadan are very special; that’s when a special night called “layla tul qadr” occurs. The reward and blessings for prayers offered in this one night are equivalent and better to worship done in thousand months. In a ritual known as ‘Aitikaf,’ devout Muslims seclude themselves in mosques to worship without worldly distractions for ten days.
Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the new moon of Shawaal. The day after Ramadan ends, Muslims celebrate EId-al-Fitr, the ‘festival of breaking the fast.’ Before the Eid prayers, Muslims pay zakat ul fitr, a form of charity to enable the poor to enjoy the joyous occasion of Eid with their rich brethren.