What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, or the Hijri calendar based on the lunar cycle. This is the month when the holy book of Islam, the Quran, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. It is also the month of fasting for Muslims. Those fasting in Ramadan refrain from food, drink and impure thoughts between the hours of sunrise (Fajr) and sunset, allowing them instead to focus on prayer and connecting with Allah (SWT).
“This is a month, the first part of which brings Allah’s Mercy, the middle of which brings Allah’s forgiveness and the last part of which brings emancipation from hellfire.” (Bukhari)
The act of fasting allows the individual to understand the pain and suffering of millions around the world who live their lives in poverty and famine, leaving the participant feeling more grounded and grateful for all that Allah (SWT) has given them. At the close of the month, Zakat donations during Ramadan are made and then Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with loved ones. Eid is a great time of feasting and celebration for Muslims, with gifts exchanged between loved ones.
Ramadan – Key Facts:
- Fasting in the month of Ramadan is Fard (obligatory) and the fourth pillar of Islam.
- Fasting helps to attain Taqwa (performing actions which please Allah and abstaining from those actions that displease Him).
- Ramadan is known to be the month of the It is highly recommended to read, study, and share your knowledge of the Holy Quran with others during the blessed month.
- The Night of Decree or The Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr), which is better than a thousand months, can be found in the last 10 days of Ramadan.
- In this holy month, the gates of “Paradise” open, the gates of “Hell” close, and the “Devils” are chained up.
- It is a very rewarding act in Ramadan to offer Iftar (sunset meal) to those who are fasting.
- It is also highly recommended to give Zakat (obligatory tax/donation – 2.5% of wealth/savings/assets) and Sadaqah (voluntary charity)
It is said in an authentic Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that those who fast in Ramadan sincerely out of faith will have their previous sins forgiven by Allah SWT provided they are not major sins.
Why do Muslims fast in Ramadan?
Fasting in Ramadan is obligatory for Muslims, as stated in the Quran:
O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa [God-consciousness]. – The Qur’an, Al-Baqarah: 183
To attain piety
Fasting teaching us to be pious and restrict ourselves from worldly pleasures. The purpose of this is to make sure that we are not led astray by materialistic desires and to be able to control desires that can cloud judgment.
To reap the benefits of the Night of Power
Lailat-ul-Qadr lies in the last 10 days of Ramadan, especially the odd nights, there is one that is better than a thousand months – Laylat al-Qadr or the Night of Power.
It is believed that any good deed performed on the night of Laylat al-Qadr will be rewarded more than the deeds of 1000 months combined.
Since we don’t know exactly which night this is, we should try and give charity on each and every night among the last 10 of Ramadan.
To seek forgiveness for past sins
The second Ashra of Ramadan is specific to seeking of forgiveness; therefore, in addition to seeking forgiveness throughout the month, Muslims make sure that the second Ashra is specifically utilized for this purpose and in this Ashra all those deeds that invoke the Forgiving quality of Allah are undertaken.
These are just a few reasons why Muslims fast during the blessed month of Ramadan. It defines them as followers of the Islamic faith and billions of Muslims around the world will continue in the tradition of fasting from sunrise to sunset.