Ramadan 2013 Begins at Sundown

For Muslims around the world, Ramadan 2013 begins Monday, July 8, at sundown.

What is Ramadan? According to the Ramadan Awareness Campaign (RAC):

“Ramadan is a time where Muslims all over the world do not eat or drink between dawn and sunset. It is a time of increasing good deeds and avoiding anything that displeases Allah. It is also a time for us to thank Allah for all the blessings He has given us and make dua for those that are not so fortunate.

“Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic Calender. It is the month that Allah first revealed the Qur’an to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam). In this month, the whole Qur’an was sent down to the first sky from Lauhi Mahfouz.

“During the month of Ramadan, the gates of Jannah (Paradise) are opened and the gates of Jahannum Hell-fire are shut.”

Ramadan typically lasts between 29 and 30 days, and it typically is a time for fasting, prayer, and personal reflection.

Fasting is a key part of the Ramadan experience. The Huffington Post stated that during the month of Ramadan, most Muslims fast from dawn to sunset with no food or water.

“Before sunrise many Muslims have the Suhur or predawn meal. At sunset families and friends gather for Iftar which is the meal eaten by Muslims to break the fast. Many Muslims begin the meal by eating dates as the Prophet used to do.

“This ritual fast known as, Sawm, is one of the five pillars of Islam, and requires that individuals abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse.”

The practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds which are counter to Islam.

By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God.

“Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations such as anger, cursing, and greed,” according to the Huffington Post.

In recent, controversial news, reports have stated that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay are being force-fed as the month of Ramadan 2013 begins as some prisoners have been hunger striking.

Ramadan is an important month for Muslims. It is a time for cleansing and personal reflection.

Zainab Chami of Dearborn told USA Today that “Ramadan elevates you spiritually. Ramadan elevates you spiritually.”

Come Monday at sunset, Ramadan 2013 will officially begin, and is set to end around August 7.

[Image by Warren Goldswain / Shutterstock.com]