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The Obligations of Ramadan

Ramadan is the Muslim holy month that is celebrated each year where the main obligation is centered on “fasting” a majority of the day each day during the month.  The Muslim holy month occurs on the 9th month of the Islam calender which is linked with the lunar calander.  Muslims in general focus on their faith and abundance that Allah (God) has given them.  During this month the Qur’an (holy book) is remembered and worshipped.  It is viewed as one of the 5 pillars of Islam.  This is also a time demonstrate strength and to learn about it, as well as to train oneself in the way of Allah.  

The specific goals of Ramadan fasting: 

Acquire patience and will power- It’s believed that this month is the month of “patience” due to controlling selfishness and increasing will power.

Be a “Pure” worshiper- During this time Muslims’ faith believes to be pure when abstaining from food during fasting.

Relief from life’s distractions – Fasting is a means to keep the Muslims’ thought off of life distractions related to foods, drinks and socializing, which is thought to “weaken” the ties with Allah.

Taqwa- Overcoming the desire for sex or committing sins by controlling the stomach and appetite.

Discover Blessings of Allah- Muslims find this goal when they experience the “hardships” associated with fasting, thought to be as the poor experience, and to be thankful for their bounties.

Certain acts of Worship Established by Allah- This is a time for Muslims to remember that Allah established certain acts of worship and that fasting isn’t based “only” on certain abstentions as follows:

1. Prayers done in the night referred to as “Qiyamul-layl” should be done and are believed to grant forgiveness of sins.

2. “Umrah” (populated holy place) is recommended for Muslims for their pilgrimage to Mecca or a populated place as the holy place, if possible.

3. Meal offering to others who fasted, referred to as “Iftar,” is believed to be a good deed and to reap rewards in turn.

4. Reading the Qur’an, completing it and reciting it.  During this time, if a Muslim looses sleep from reading the Quran, it’s viewed as acceptable and that they will receive peace in return if the Quran is completed.

5.  Giving charity is viewed as a positive gesture and that it will please Allah.

6. Going to worship at the I`tikaaf (Mosque), especially for the last 10 days of Ramadan, to show faith and receive peace from Allah.

7. Supplication (Prayer) is done and Muslims believe that during time of fasting their invocations increase and their prayers will be listened to more.  “The Prophet said: ‘Three invocations will be answered: The invocation of the fasting person, the invocation of the oppressed, and the invocation of the traveler'” (OnIslam.net, 2010)

8. Asking for “repentance”- Muslims believe that during Ramadan you can be saved from evil through asking for repentance and to return with Allah.

9. Good deeds during the last ten days of Ramadan- It’s believed that Muslims should do more good deeds during the last ten days of Ramadan through their prayers mostly at night, actions with family and self.  

10. Abstain from talking in vain as it decreases sins committed. “Fasting is not [only] abstaining from eating and drinking, but abstaining from vain and obscene talk, so if someone insulted you or wronged you say: I am fasting” (OnIslam.net, 2010).

Common mistakes made when celebrating Ramadan includes the following: 

First, spending too much money in celebration as wasteful. Second, staying awake during the night and sleeping during the day due to not being able to eat during the day. Third, socializing with friends and family more which is thought to be spent wasteful in vain when there should be more prayer to Allah.  Fourth, improper prayer to Imam and thus loss of congressional prayer and cause of discontent between communities. Fifth, some will read the Qur’an too fast and not taking time to contemplate the meanings read. Sixth, Muslims often are excited to go to the l’tikaf for retreat, worship, reflection and prayer; but some will stay to socialize instead.

Reference:

OnIslam.net (August 19, 2010). Reality and Obligation in Ramadan, Onislam.net, Al-Jumuah Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 9, Retrieved on March 10, 2011 from english/reading-islam/understanding-islam/islam-and-the-world/448888-reality-and-obligation-in-ramadan.html?the_World=