What is Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month of fasting for Muslims. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam; the others are confession of faith, five daily prayers, Zakah (almsgiving) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).
Why Muslims Fast
Fasting in Ramadan is a main pillar of Islam that helps Muslim grow closer to the One God, Allah. According to the Qur’an “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may learn self-restraint”. Fasting, which is recognized for its health, spiritual and psychological benefits, is considered by Muslims as a means to improve their moral characters and provides an opportunity for a spiritual renewal.
Purpose of Fasting
The real purpose of fasting is not to make us hungry and thirsty, or to deprive us some of our comfort and conveniences but to be conscious of Allah. It is to do one’s best to live by His commands and to avoid His prohibitions, fear of Allah, worship of Allah, sincerity in faith, and avoid the disobedience to Allah. Fasting is an invisible act. Only Allah and the person who is fasting know whether he or she is fasting or not. Fasting teaches how to control and discipline our desires. During fasting we learn how to say “no” to things that are otherwise permissible and good, but are forbidden during fasting. When one learns how to say “no” to that which is generally permissible, then one can easily control oneself to avoid that which is forbidden. Through fasting we taste—to some extent—the pain and suffering of those who are poor and destitute. Fasting teaches empathy and sympathy, and it takes away some of our selfishness and self-centeredness.
How Muslims Fast
Muslims fast from early dawn to sunset every day throughout the month (approximately 17 hours a day). The fast requires Muslims to abstain from food, drink, marital relations and ill-conduct during the fast.
Fasting in Ramadan is compulsory on all physically and mentally healthy and mature Muslims. Those exempted from fasting are the sick, old, pregnant and menstruating women and travelers.
Typical day during the Month
The day of fasting begins with an early morning meal before dawn and ends at sunset. The evening activities include the traditional breaking of the fast usually with dates and water, the sunset prayer followed by dinner (IFTAR). Muslims would then go to the mosque for congregational prayers in which at least one-thirtieth of the Qur’an is recited. The congregation would have listened to the recitation of the complete Qur’an by the end of the month.
End of Ramadan
Ramadan will conclude on June 24th/25th, 2017 depending on the sighting of the moon.
The celebration marking the end of Ramadan is called Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the major festivals in Islam.