Who hasn’t heard of the month of Ramadan? Well, if you haven’t and are curious to know what it is all about, I will shed light on what Ramadan is and why is it Holy to Muslims.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar, and is observed by more than 1 billion Muslims across the world. It is the month in which Muslims fast during the hours of daylight. Ramadan is Holy to Muslims because it was during this month that the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), in the night known as Laillat-ul-Qadr.
The word Ramadan derives from the word ‘Ramada’ which means intense heat and dryness, the feeling Muslims experience during fasting. This year Ramadan will be in the middle of summer and is expected to begin on June 28th or 29th, depending on the viewing of the crescent of Ramadan. Muslims celebrate the arrival of the holy month by greeting each other with phrases such as "Ramadan Karim" i.e Ramadan is generous or "Ramadan Mubarak" which means Ramadan is blessed.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims in Ramadan abstain from food, drink, smoking and any physical relation between married couples from the first ray of sunlight till sunset. However, Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking. During Ramadan Muslims refrain themselves in many ways, every part of the body observes the fast and is restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must be restrained from looking at anything inappropriate. The hand must be restrained from touching anything that doesn’t belong to it. The ears must be restrained from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must be restrained from going towards anything sinful.
Ramadan is a spiritual month, a time to purify the soul and refocus attention on God. It is a time for Muslims to be more submissive whereby they purify their behavior by trying to give up bad habits and attempting to be better persons. They practice good manners and speech, increase their good deeds, give more charity, intensify prayers and spend more time reading the Holy Quran.
By experiencing hunger and thirst during Ramadan, Muslims mentally and physically feel what those who are underprivileged, who have little to eat every day of the year, go through. By gaining this awareness, Muslims sympathize with them and tend to be more generous towards them throughout the year.
Just before sunrise, the Fajr prayer, it is common to have a meal known as “Suhoor’ and directly after sunset, Maghreb prayer, the fast is broken with the main meal that is called “Iftar.” This meal is a special time that Muslims often share with family or friends.
The poor and the needy are also looked after during the month. Large tents in the streets or near mosques distribute free meals to those in need. Ramadan has a special atmosphere. It is a time that brings families and communities together, through the Iftar gatherings.
In summary Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; learn patience and perseverance, a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one's self on the worship of God. It teaches lessons of equality, empathy and humility. It is a social system, which brings people together, makes people do good deeds and have more feelings for each other.
Wishing those of you who observe the month a blessed and peaceful Ramadan, and may God accept all our fasting and prayers.