For about 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, the holy month of Ramadan begins on Saturday. During the coming 30 days, Muslims will fast from dawn until dusk. This is also the time for all the Muslims to give to charity, spend time with family and friends, and become closer to God. Ramadan 2017 is going to start from May 27 and will last until June 24.
What Is Ramadan?
The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ar-ramad, which means scorching heat or dryness. According to the Islamic calendar, Ramadan also known as Ramazan, Ramadhan, or Ramathan, is observed by Muslims from around the globe as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Holy Quran to Muhammad. The month lasts 29-30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
During the Ramadan, fasting is obligatory for all adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, traveling, elderly, pregnant or going through a menstrual cycle. According to Quran’s Chapter II, Verse 185, in the month of Ramadan, one should abstain from eating food.
“The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not the hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.”
It is believed worldwide that the Holy Quran was first revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan, which has been referred to as the “best of times.” According to Hadith, all the holy scriptures were sent down on Earth during Ramadan. The tablets of Ibrahim, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel, and the Quran were sent down on 1st, 6th, 12th, 13th, and 24th Ramadan respectively.
Fasting During Ramadan
According to Quran, fasting during the month of Ramadan was obligatory for prior nations and is a way to attain taqwa, the fear of God. God told Muhammad that fasting on his name is not a new innovation in monotheism, but rather an obligation practiced by those who are truly devoted to the oneness of God.
During the fasting, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual activities. Muslims are also instructed to avoid sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting.
Food and drinks are served daily, before dawn and after sunset, which is referred to as Suhur and Iftar respectively.
Each day, before dawn, all devoted Muslims observe a pre-fast meal called the suhur. After taking a small break, Muslims begin the first prayer of the day.
According to San Antonia Express-News, Muslims usually eat dates in the evening — a tradition started by Muhammad who broke his fast by eating three dates.
Following that, Muslims adjourn for the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meal is served.
Important Dates of Ramadan:
According to Hilal sighting and Islamic Dates, the new moon marks the beginning of the new month and Muslims usually estimate the crescent moon sighting as the beginning of Ramadan.
Laylat al-Qadr, which in Arabic means “The Night of Power,” is considered the holiest night of the year. According to Quran Chapter 97:3, this is the night in which the Muslims believe the first revelation of the Quran was sent down to Muhammad stating that this particular night was “better than one thousand months.”
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The holiday of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month, Shawwal. It may also be a reference towards the festive nature of having endured the month of fasting successfully and returning to the natural disposition of being able to eat and drink.
[Featured Image by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images]