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A guide to the Holy Month of Ramadan
June 5, 2016, 11:40 am

Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, is known as the month of Fasting or Sawm. It is the most sacred month for Muslims around the world as it is believed that the Holy Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad during this month. Ramadan is a month spent in embracing spirituality and engaging in self-examination, and is the most holistic time of the year in the life of a Muslim

Fasting (Sawm) during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam designed to strengthen the faith of a Muslim. Fasting is obligatoryfor all adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, are traveling or are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding. Those who miss out on fasting are required to complete the fast before the next Ramadan, or if they are unable to do so, they are required to feed one person for every day missed. Those with chronic illnesses are not required to complete the fast, and are exempted entirely.

During fasting, which extends from dawn to sunsetof each day of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink, as well as from engagingin sexual activities, profanities, gossip, and anger. It is considered unlawful to get angry or indulge in violence during this time. A pre-fast meal called the Suhur is consumed before dawn and ahead of Fajr, the first prayer of the day. Suhur is considered as a benefit of the blessings in that it allows the person fasting to avoid the crankiness or the weakness caused by the fast.

Muslims break the day-long fast at sunset with the Iftar meal, which traditionally consists of dates and water, before adjourning for the Maghreb prayer. The main meal of the day, which begins after Maghreb prayers and can last until late at night, includes many traditional dishes that are especially prepared during Ramadan.

The basic goal of the fast is for a Muslim to develop a consciousness of God. The Islamic culture believes that fasting instills the ability of restraint in an individual, that enables a person to control his/her desires for the glorification of God. It is also an occasion for them to practice self-control, and eliminate unhealthy habits.

The significance of fasting is thought to be in the disciplining of ego and to achieve piety rather than to train them to endure hunger and thirst. This period is dedicated to remembrance and obedience to God and adherence to the Holy Quran. Fasting is not only seen as a form of worship, but refers to the complete submission to God, to give up a life of worldly desires and commit to him. Abstaining from food and water also allows people to understand the troubles of the under-privileged and instills in them a sense of compassion and empathy. It helps embrace the spirit of charity and generosity, which is essential during Ramadan.

Additionally, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran during this month. Taraweh is a set of voluntary nightly prayers during which a whole section of the Quran (Juz) is recited. This way, it is possible for the entire Quran to be completed at the end of the month. Even though it not compulsory, it is highly common to complete the Quran before Eid.

Laylat Al-Qadr, a special night which falls during the last ten days of Ramadan, is referred to as the ‘Night of Power’, and has great significance as it is believed that it was on this night that the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammed.According to the Quran, this night of power is said to be “better than a thousand months” of worship.

Eid Al-Fitr is the official confirmation of the end of Ramadan. Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the beginning of the next lunar month, is also known as the Feast of Breaking the Fast. It is a time of celebration when families come together to share delicious meals and exchange gifts. It begins with the Eid prayer, followed by a three-day holiday to commemorate the end of the holy month. It is also one of the biggest celebrations among the Muslim community worldwide.

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