Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Islam uses a lunar calendar and each month begins with the sighting of the new moon.
Because the lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar used elsewhere, Islamic holidays “move” each year. It is the Islamic month of fasting (sawm), in which participating Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the person patience, sacrifice and humility. Ramadan is a time to fast for the sake of God, and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadan Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance into the future, ask for help in refraining from everyday evils and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.
Muslims believe that during the month of Ramadan, Allah revealed the first verses of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.
The most prominent event of this month is the fasting which should be practiced by all Muslims. Every day during the Blessed month of Ramadan Muslims around the world get up before dawn to eat Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, and perform the fajr prayer. They do not eat or drink anything after this prayer is said, until the fourth prayer of the day, Maghrib (sunset), is due. Muslims may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set, until the next morning’s fajr prayer.
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an. During Ramadan, Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds.
Events of Ramadan
Laylat ul- Qadr literally the “Night of Decrees” or “Night of Measures,” is the anniversary of two very important dates in Islam that occurred in the month of Ramadan. Muslims believe that it was the night in which the Qur’an was revealed from God to Samaa Adunya (the sky of the world we live in). The Qur’an was revealed over many years to the Prophet. Muslims believe that any acts of worship undertaken on this night are rewarded in multiple thousands in comparison to the same act of worship done on any other day.
The Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, as per the lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast; a special celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor, everyone puts on their best, preferably new, clothes, and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends.
A sense of generosity and gratitude colors these festivities. Although charity and good deeds are always important in Islam, they have special significance at the end of Ramadan.
As the month draws to a close, Muslims are obligated to share their blessings by feeding the poor and making contributions to mosques.