Ramadan |  رمضان‎ 

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Is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar; Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in hadiths. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad, which means scorching heat or dryness.

While fasting from dawn until sunset Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids and sexual relations. According to Islam, the sawab (rewards) of fasting are many, but in this month they are believed to be multiplied. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of the Quran.
In the Quran

Chapter 2, Revelation 185 of the Quran states:

”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 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.” [Quran 2:185]

Thus, according to the Quran, Muhammad first received revelations in the lunar month of Ramadan. Therefore, the month of Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar, the recording of which began with the Hijra.
Beginning of Ramadan

Hilāl (the crescent) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon indicates the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan. However, to many Muslims, this is not in accordance with authenticated Hadiths stating that visual confirmation per region is recommended. The consistent variations of a day have existed since the time of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh).

Practices during Ramadan | Fasting: Sawm of Ramadan:

Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam. The fast (sawm) begins at dawn and ends at sunset. In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims also increase restraint, such as abstaining from sexual relations and generally sinful speech and behavior. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Ramadan also teaches Muslims how to better practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat).

It becomes compulsory for Muslims to start fasting when they reach puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. Exemptions to fasting are travel, menstruation, illness, older age, pregnancy, and breast-feeding. However, many Muslims with medical conditions insist on fasting to satisfy their spiritual needs, and healthcare professionals must work with their patients to reach common ground. Professionals should closely monitor individuals who decide to persist with fasting.

While fasting is not considered compulsory in childhood, many children endeavour to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life. Those who are unable to fast are obliged to make up for it. According to the Quran, those ill or traveling (musaafir) are exempt from obligation, but still must make up the days missed later on.

Health effects:

Fasting does not pose any medical risks to healthy individuals. In fact, Sarah Amer, MS, RD, CDN, says, “The body has the incredible ability to adapt.” She reveals that it takes her only a few days of fasting to get back to her usual activity level. A team of cardiologists in the UAE found that people observing Ramadan enjoy a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood.

Suhoor:

Each day before dawn, Muslims observe a pre-fast meal called Suhoor. Due to the high diversity of the global Muslim community (ummah), the typical suhoor or iftaar meals vary. A few dates and a cup of water are typically the first foods to break the fast, while fried pastries, salads, nuts, legumes, and breads are also common. After stopping a short time before dawn, Muslims hasten to pray the first prayer of the day, the Fajr prayer.
Iftar

At sunset, families hasten for the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar. Considering the high diversity of the global muslim population, it is impossible to describe typical suhur or iftar meals. Suhur can be dinner, or iftar, leftovers, typical breakfast foods, or ethnic foods. Social gatherings, many times buffet style, at iftar are frequent, and traditional dishes are often highlighted. A few dates and a cup of water are usually the first foods to break the fast, while fried pastries, salads, nuts, legumes, and breads are common. Traditional desserts are often unavoidable, especially those made only during Ramadan. Water is usually the beverage of choice, but juice and milk are also consumed. Soft drinks and caffeinated beverages are consumed to a lesser extent.

In the Middle East, the Iftar meal consists of water, juices, dates, salads and appetizers, one or more entrees, and dessert. Typical entrees are “lamb stewed with wheat berries, lamb kebabs with grilled vegetables, or roast chicken served with chickpea-studded rice pilaf”. A rich dessert such as baklava or kunafeh (“a buttery, syrup-sweetened kadaifi noodle pastry filled with cheese”) concludes the meal.

Over time, iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at masjid or banquet halls for 100 or more diners. For many around the world, iftar starts with the eating of one or more (usually three) dates – as Muhammad used to do. Following that, Muslims adjourn for the Maghrib prayer, the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meal is served.

Charity | Zakat and Sadaqa:

Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramadan. Zakat, often translated as “the poor-rate”, is obligatory as one of the pillars of Islam; a fixed percentage required to be given by those with savings. Sadaqa is voluntary charity in given above and beyond what is required from the obligation of zakat. In Islam all good deeds are more handsomely rewarded in Ramadan than in any other month of the year. Consequently, many will choose this time to give a larger portion, if not all, of the zakat for which they are obligated to give. In addition, many will also use this time to give a larger portion of sadaqa in order to maximize the reward that will await them on the Day of Judgment.

In many Muslim countries, it is a common sight to see people giving more food to the poor and the homeless, and even to see large public areas for the poor to come and break their fast. It is said that if a person helps a fasting person to break their fast, then they receive a reward for that fast, without diminishing the reward that the fasting person got for their fast.

Increased prayer and recitation of the Quran:

In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Quran by means of special prayers, called Tarawih. These voluntary prayers are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Quran (Juz’, which is 1/30 of the Quran) is recited. Therefore, the entire Quran would be completed at the end of the month. Although, it is not required to read the whole Quran in the Salatul Tarawih prayers, it is common.
Laylat al-Qadr

Sometimes referred to as “the night of power” or ‘the night of decree”, Laylat al-Qadr is considered the most holy night of the year. This is the night in which Muslims believe the first revelation of the Quran was sent down to Muhammad stating that this night was “better than one thousand months [of proper worship], as stated in Chapter 97:3 of the Qu’ran.

Also, generally, Laylat al-Qadr is believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during
the last 10 days of Ramadan, i.e., either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th.

End of RamadanEid ul-Fitr:

The Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎, “festivity of breaking the fast”), sometimes spelled in English as Eid al-Fitr, marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month called Shawwal in Arabic. This first day of the following month is declared after another crescent new moon has been sighted or the completion of 30 days of fasting if no visual sighting is possible due to weather conditions. This first day of Shawwal is called Eid ul-Fitr. Eid Ul-Fitr may also be a reference towards the festive nature of having endured the month of fasting successfully and returning to the more natural disposition (fitra) of being able to eat, drink and resume intimacy with spouses during the day. or the manner in which the Eid is celebrated, see Eid ul-Fitr and Salat al Eid.

Cultural aspects:

Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which Muslims believe the Quran was revealed.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. Muslims believe that the Qur’an was sent down to the lowest heaven during this month, thus being prepared for gradual revelation by Jibraeel (Gabriel) to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Furthermore, Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open all the month and the gates of Hell (Jahannam) would be closed.The first three days of the next month, Shawwal, is spent in celebrations and is observed as the “Festival of Breaking Fast” or Eid ul-Fitr.

Timing:

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year and contains no intercalation, Ramadan migrates throughout the seasons. The Islamic day starts after sunset. The actual and estimated start and end dates for Ramadan in 2007–2017 were and are as follows:

CE / AD  AH  First day  Last day
2007 1428 13 September 12 October
2008 1429   1 September 30 September
2009 1430 22 August 20 September
2010 1431 11 August   9 September
2011 1432   1 August 29 August
2012 1433   20 July 18 August
2013 1434   9 July   7 August
2014 1435 28 June 27 July
2015 1436 18 June 16 July
2016 1437 6 June 5 July
2017 1438 27 May 25 June
Ramadan dates between 2007 and 2017

Many Muslims insist on the local physical sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of Ramadan, but others use the calculated time of the new moon or the Saudi Arabian declaration to determine the start of the month. Since the new moon is not in the same state at the same time globally, the beginning and ending dates of Ramadan depend on what lunar sightings are received in each respective location. As a result, Ramadan dates vary in different countries, but usually only by a day.

This is due to the cycle of the moon. When one country sees the moon, mainly Saudi Arabia, the moon travels the same path all year round and that same moon seen in the east is then seen traveling towards the west. All the countries around the world see the moon within a 24 hour period once spotted by one country in the east.

Each year, Ramadan begins about eleven days earlier than in the previous year. Astronomical projections that approximate the start of Ramadan are available. It takes about 33 years and five days for Ramadan to complete a twelve month move across the yearly calendar. As Ramadan 28 March 1990 to Ramadan 22 March 2023.

The Big Events:

Ramadan is observed by Muslims during the entire lunar month by the same name.
The month of religious observances consists of fasting and extra prayers.

  • 02: Ramadan, the Torah (Tawrat) was bestowed on Moses (Musa)
  • 10: Ramadan, death of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid – first wife of Muhammad
  • 12: Ramadan, the Gospel (Injil) was bestowed on Jesus (Isa)
  • 15: Ramadan, birth of Hasan ibn Ali
  • 17: Ramadan, the Battle of Badr was won by the Muslims
  • 18: Ramadan, the Psalms (Zabur) were bestowed on David (Dawood)
  • 19: Ramadan, Ali bin Abu Talib was struck on the head by a sword
  • 20: Ramadan, The great Islamic event that took place in Ramadan was Fatah Makkah (the conquest of Makkah)
  • 21: Ramadan, Ali bin Abu Talib died due to injuries he sustained by a sword

Laylat al-Qadr is observed during one of the last ten odd numbered days of the month. Muslims believe that this night which is also known as “The Night of Destiny” is better than a thousand months. This is often interpreted as praying throughout this night is rewarded equally with praying for a thousand months (just over 83 years i.e. a lifetime). Many Muslims spend the entire night in prayer

In the Ottoman Empire, the sultan presented trays of baklava to the Janissaries in a ceremonial procession called the Baklava Alayı.

  • 10 Ramadan, in 1973, Operation Badr took place, starting the Yom Kippur War
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