Most people know that Ramadan is a time of fasting for Muslims around the world. But what is Ramadan beyond that? Continue reading to learn some of the important practices and beliefs around this holy month 🌙
1.The what, the when, and the why?
Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islamic culture. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and as a result of this, the Holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, rotates by approximately ten days each year. Muslims observe the month of Ramadan, to mark that Allah, or God, gave the first chapters of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. It is also one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
The daily fast begins at fajr prayer, a few hours before sunrise. The day’s fast is completed at sunset and the Maghrib prayers can begin. It is traditional to end your fast by eating dates before the evening meal with family and friends. A person who fasts must refrain from dawn until dusk from eating, drinking, smoking, foul language, and bad conduct. While many people are exempted from observing fast, such as while travelling, the sick, the elderly, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the holy month is a chance for everyone to refrain from all matters of bad conduct regardless. Children are not obligated to fast during Ramadan, not until they have reached the age of puberty. However, some practice to prepare for adult participation, or keep mini fasts for a few hours.
3.Prayers and the spiritual devotion
Most Muslims spend their time in prayer, performing charitable acts, and purifying the mind and body. During Ramadan, and apart from the 5 obligatory daily prayers, special evening prayers are conducted during which long portions of the Quran are recited. These special prayers are known as Taraweeh. While Ramadan usually conjures up an image of the physical acts of worship, It’s all this increased spiritual worship that truly characterizes Ramadan. We learn to focus on the little acts such as an extra smile while tired of fasting, upholding family ties, spending extra time with your children, respecting your parents, accepting invitations, and so on, to become closer to Allah by bettering oneself.
4.Zakat (Donations) in many forms
Zakat is a general charitable donation that is calculated annually as a percentage of extra wealth, while the Sadaqa Al-Fitr (Zakat Al-Fitr) is a donation from individuals, to be paid equally by every Muslim man, woman, and child at the end of Ramadan. This donation is given to pay for a meal for underprivileged people. Many Muslims choose to pay the general Zakat and Zakat Al-Fitr on the night of power, Laylat al-Qadr, which falls in the last 10 days of the Holy month. Sadaqa, in general, is another form of optional donation that Muslims choose to give away lavishly during Ramadan.
Eid al-Fitr, also known as the “festival of ending the fast”, will take place as the Holy month of Ramadan draws to a close, however, the date when Eid is celebrated is dependent on the sighting of the new moon. Once the sighting is confirmed, the festival can begin. It signifies the completion of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Eid Al Fitr has a particular Islamic prayer (salah) that consists of two units (rakats) generally performed in a mosque.