This is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar and this is being observed by many Muslims worldwide as the month of sawm or fasting, prayer, reflection, and the community. This is a commemoration of the first revelation of Muhammad. This yearly observance of Ramadan has been regarded as included in the 5 Pillars of Islam that will last for 29-30 days, from a sighting of a crescent moon up to the next.
The fasting from sunrise to sunset is obligatory or fard for every adult Muslim who aren’t chronically or acutely ill, diabetic, menstruating, travelling, elderly, or breastfeeding. The Muslim predawn meal is being referred to as the “suhur”, and their evening nightly feast which will break their fast is known as iftar. Even though “fatwas” had been issued which declares that Muslims who dwells in the areas with a polar night or a midnight sun must follow the Mecca’s timetable, it is a common practice to go after the closest country’s timetable wherein night will be identified from day.
The “thawab” or the spiritual rewards of fasting are thought to be multiplied throughout Ramadan, and accordingly, during the fasting hours, Muslims are refraining not only from drinking, eating and taking tobacco products, but also from sinful behavior and sexual relations, devoting themselves instead for prayer or “salat” and the study of Quran. The promising month of Ramadan has been the time for reflection, celebration and contemplation.
Ramadan month was exposed in the Quran. Muslims hold that every scripture has been revealed during the Ramadan. Muhammed has been to take the first Quranic revelation.
Although Muslims were initially commanded to fast during the Hijra’s second year, it is believed that the exercising of fasting isn’t in fact a novelty of monotheism, but instead had always been important for the believers to attain the “Taqwa” or fear of God. It is pointing to the reality that pre-Islamic pagan of Mecca had fasted on the 10th day of Muharram so they can expiate sin and will avoid drought.
Important dates during Ramadan
The first and final dates of Ramadan had been identified by the Lunar Islamic calendar.
Ramadan starting dates between the Gregorian years 1938 & 2038 including the error over the line of ante-penultimate.
The Hilāl or the crescent moon normally take place approximately a day after the present moon, Muslims can typically estimate the start of Ramadan; but, many preferred to confirm the unlocking of Ramadan through direct visual observations of the crescent.
The Night of Destiny
The Qadr Night has been considered as the holiest evening of the year. It’s generally thought to have taken place on the odd-numbered evening during the last 10 days of Ramadan; Dawoodi Bohra thought that the Laylat al-Qadr had been the 23rd evening of Ramadan.
The Eid al-Fitr holiday which marked the end line of Ramadan for a year and will start the Shawwal, the following lunar month has been declared after the crescent new moon was sighted or right after the completion of the 30 days of fasting when no sighting of the moon is possible. The Eid celebrates the coming back to a more normal disposition or fitra of drinking, eating and marital intimacy.
The Religious Practices
The usual practice is by fasting from dawn up to sunset. A pre-dawn meal just before the fast has been called as “suhur” while their meal at sun down will break the fast that is named as iftar.
Muslims are devoting more time for prayer and for acts of charity, pushing to improve themselves discipline, motivated by the hadith: “When Ramadan arrived, the gate of Paradise will be open and the gate of hell will be locked up and the devils are placed in chains.”
Ramadan is the time of self-improvement, heightened devotion, worship and spiritual reflection. Muslims are anticipated to place more effort to following the Islamic teachings. The sawm or fasting starts at dawn and will end at sunset. Additionally, to abstain from drinking and eating during this time, these Muslims abstain from any sexual relations and any sinful behavior and speech during Ramadan month. This act of fasting has been said to redirect their hearts away from the worldly doings, its purpose to cleanse their soul though freeing it from the harmful impurities. The Muslims believed that Ramadan is teaching them to practice self-discipline, empathy, self-control, and sacrifices of those who that are less fortunate, therefore, encouraging the actions of compulsory charity or zakat and generosity. Muslims also believed fasting will help instill compassion for food-insecure poor.
The exemptions from fasting will include those severely ill, pregnant, breastfeeding, traveling, and menstruating. But, Muslims in this class may still decide to fast, just in order to gratify their spiritual needs, although it is not suggested by the hadith. Those that is not able to fast have been obligated to make-up the missed time later on.
Every day, before dawn, the Muslims observed the pre-fast meal known as suhoor. After stopping the short time before the dawn will come, Muslims start the first ever prayer of their day, known as Fajr.
At sun down, families break their fasting with iftar, traditionally opening a meal through eating dates to celebrate Muhammad’s practice when breaking the fast after three dates. Then, they adjourn for the Maghrib, the 4th of the 5 required everyday prayers, after which their main meal will be served.
The social gatherings, numerous times in a buffet style are frequent at iftar. The traditional dishes are usually highlighted with the traditional desserts, mainly those made only when it is Ramadan time. Water is normally the beverage of choices, but milk and juices are often available, like caffeinated beverages and soft drinks.
In the area of the Middle East, iftar consisted of juices, dates, salads, appetizers and water; one or more major dishes; and with rich desserts, for dessert are considered as the main important part of their meal. The typical main dishes will include lamb stewed that has wheat berries, grilled vegetables in lamb kebab, and the roast chicken served with the chick peas studded rice pilaf. The desserts may include baklava, kunafeh and luqaimat.
Over time, these practices of iftar have evolved to banquets that will be able to accommodate hundreds of diners.
Men are praying during the Ramadan time at “Blue Mosque” or Shrine of Ali in Mazar-I-Sharif, in Afghanistan
The mass prayer in 1996 Ramadan at Dome of Rock in Jerusalem
The mass prayer in Ramadan 1996 at Dome of Rock in Jerusalem
The Zakat, usually translated as “a poor-rate”, is a fixed percentage of the income a believer will be required to share with those poor; the practice had been obligatory as one of the pillars of the Islam. Muslims believed that good deeds will be rewarded most handsomely when it is Ramadan than at in any other time; consequently, numerous Muslims are donating the larger portion – and some are giving their annual zakāt during this time or month of Ramadan.
Tarawih will be the extra nightly prayers that are performed during this month of Ramadan. Not the same with the famous belief, they’re not compulsory.
The Quran Recitation
Muslims are being encouraged to study and read the whole Quran that comprises 30 juz’ (sections), on the 30 days of Ramadan, there are some Muslims that incorporate the recitation of a juz’ in each of the 30 tarawih sessions being observed during this month of Ramadan.