A crescent moon can be seen over palm trees at sunset in Manama, marking the beginning of the Islamic month of Ramadan in Bahrain
|Ends||29, or 30 Ramadan|
|Date||Variable (follows the Islamic lunar calendar)|
|2013 date||9 July – 7 August (estimates)|
|Related to||Eid al-Fitr, Laylat al-Qadr|
Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان Ramaḍān, IPA: [rɑmɑˈdˤɑːn];[variations] Persian: Ramazān; Urdu: Ramzān; Turkish: Ramazan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar; Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in hadiths. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad, which means scorching heat or dryness. Fasting is fardh (obligatory) for adult Muslims, except those who are ill, travelling, pregnant, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding.
While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations; in some interpretations they also refrain from swearing. According to Islam, the thawab (rewards) of fasting are many, but in this month they are believed to be multiplied. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of the Quran.
In the Quran
Chapter 2, Revelation 185 of the Quran states:
The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.[Quran 2:185]
Thus, according to the Quran, Muhammad first received revelations in the lunar month of Ramadan. Therefore, the month of Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar, the recording of which began with the Hijra.
Beginning of Ramadan
Hilāl (the crescent) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon marks the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan. However, to many Muslims, this is not in accordance with authenticated Hadiths stating that visual confirmation per region is recommended. The consistent variations of a day have existed since the time of Muhammad.
Practices during Ramadan
Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam. The fast (sawm) begins at dawn and ends at sunset. In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims also increase restraint, such as abstaining from sexual relations and generally sinful speech and behavior. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Ramadan also teaches Muslims how to better practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat).
It becomes compulsory for Muslims to start fasting when they reach puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. Exemptions to fasting are travel, menstruation, illness, older age, pregnancy, and breast-feeding. However, many Muslims with medical conditions insist on fasting to satisfy their spiritual needs, and healthcare professionals must work with their patients to reach common ground. Professionals should closely monitor individuals who decide to persist with fasting.
While fasting is not considered compulsory in childhood, many children endeavour to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life. Those who are unable to fast are obliged to make up for it. According to the Quran, those ill or traveling (musaafir) are exempt from obligation, but still must make up the days missed later on.
Suhoor and Iftar
Each day before dawn, Muslims observe a pre-fast meal called suhoor. After stopping a short time before dawn, Muslims begin the first prayer of the day, the Fajr prayer. At sunset, families hasten for the fast-breaking meal known as iftar.
Considering the high diversity of the global Muslim population, it is impossible to describe typical suhoor or iftar meals. Suhoor can be leftovers from the previous night's dinner (iftar), typical breakfast foods, or ethnic foods.
In the evening, some dates are usually the first foods to break the fast; according to tradition, Muhammad broke fast with three dates. Following that, Muslims generally adjourn for the Maghrib prayer, the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meal is served.
Social gatherings, many times buffet style, at iftar are frequent, and traditional dishes are often highlighted, including traditional desserts, especially those made only during Ramadan. Water is usually the beverage of choice, but juice and milk are also consumed. Soft drinks and caffeinated beverages are consumed to a lesser extent.
In the Middle East, the iftar meal consists of water, juices, dates, salads and appetizers, one or more entrees, and dessert. Typical entrees are "lamb stewed with wheat berries, lamb kebabs with grilled vegetables, or roast chicken served with chickpea-studded rice pilaf". A rich dessert such as baklava or kunafeh ("a buttery, syrup-sweetened kadaifi noodle pastry filled with cheese") concludes the meal.
Over time, iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at masjid or banquet halls for 100 or more diners.
Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramadan. Zakat, often translated as "the poor-rate", is obligatory as one of the pillars of Islam; a fixed percentage is required to be given to the poor of the person's savings. Sadaqa is voluntary charity in given above and beyond what is required from the obligation of Zakat. In Islam all good deeds are more handsomely rewarded in Ramadan than in any other month of the year. Consequently, many will choose this time to give a larger portion, if not all, of the Zakat for which they are obligated to give. In addition, many will also use this time to give a larger portion of sadaqa in order to maximize the reward that will await them on the Day of Judgment.
In many Muslim countries, it is a common sight to see people giving more food to the poor and the homeless, and even to see large public areas for the poor to come and break their fast. It is said that if a person helps a fasting person to break their fast, then they receive a reward for that fast, without diminishing the reward that the fasting person got for their fast.
Increased prayer and recitation of the Quran
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Quran by means of special prayers, called Tarawih. These voluntary prayers are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Quran (Juz', which is 1/30 of the Quran) is recited. Therefore, the entire Quran would be completed at the end of the month. Although it is not required to read the whole Quran in the Salatul Tarawih prayers, it is common.
Sometimes referred to as "the night of power" or 'the night of decree", Laylat al-Qadr is considered the most holy night of the year. This is the night in which Muslims believe the first revelation of the Quran was sent down to Muhammad stating that this night was "better than one thousand months [of proper worship], as stated in Chapter 97:3 of the Qu'ran.
End of Ramadan
The Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر, "festivity of breaking the fast"), sometimes spelled in English as Eid al-Fitr, marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month called Shawwal in Arabic. This first day of the following month is declared after another crescent new moon has been sighted or the completion of 30 days of fasting if no visual sighting is possible due to weather conditions. This first day of Shawwal is called Eid ul-Fitr. Eid Ul-Fitr may also be a reference towards the festive nature of having endured the month of fasting successfully and returning to the more natural disposition (fitra) of being able to eat, drink and resume intimacy with spouses during the day.
Various cultural additions are mistakenly associated as part of the original celebrations arising from the time of Muhammad, as many of the forms of celebration in various cultures and countries have added. For example, no symbols of Ramadan were evident in any scholarly literature of Muhammad's lifetime, yet in some places Ramadan is met with various decorations.
For example, in some Muslim countries today lights are strung up in public squares, and across city streets, to add to the festivities of the month. Lanterns have become symbolic decorations welcoming the month of Ramadan. In a growing number of countries, they are hung on city streets. The tradition of lanterns as a decoration becoming associated with Ramadan is believed to have originated during the Fatimid Caliphate primarily centered in Egypt, where the Caliph Al-Muizz Lideenillah was greeted by people holding lanterns to celebrate his ruling. From that time lanterns were used to light mosques and houses throughout the capital city of Cairo. Shopping malls, places of business, and people's homes can be seen with stars and crescents, as well as, various lighting effects, as well. Some Muslim parents, residing in Western countries mimick modern Christmas celebration traditions, as a means of trying to make Ramadan a more enjoyable time for their children who are too young to fast and understand the spiritual significance of the holy month.
Some Muslims may use a Ramadan calendar to help their children understand Ramadan. There are 29 or 30 flaps, behind which there may be a small piece of chocolate, a sweet or a toy. The calendars are similar to and may have developed from advent calendars, which are popular during the Christmas period.
Origin of the word Ramadan
Ramadan, as a name for the month, is of Muslim origin. However, prior to Islam's exclusion of intercalary days from its calendar, the name of this month was called Natiq and [due to the intercalary days added] always occurred in the warm season.
It is believed that the first revelation to Muhammad was sent down during the month of Ramadan. Furthermore, God proclaimed to Muhammad that fasting for His Sake was not a new innovation in monotheism, but rather an obligation practiced by those truly devoted to The Oneness of God.
Pre-Islamic observation of fasting
During the Jahilliyah (i.e. pre-Islamic period) the tribe of Quraish and the Jews used to fast on the day of Ashura  It marks two historical events: the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark, and the day that Musa (Moses) was saved from the Egyptians by God. Ashura may or may not be referring to the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur.
^/ramadˤaːn/ : In Arabic phonology, it can be [rɑmɑˈdˤɑːn, ramadˤɑːn, ræmæˈdˤɑːn], depending on the region.
- BBC - Religions Retrieved 2012-07-25
- "Muslims worldwide start to observe Ramadan". The Global Times Online. 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "The Muslim World Observes Ramadan". Power Text Solutions. 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Schools - Religions". BBC. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- Bukhari-Ibn-Ismail, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 124.". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Muslim-Ibn-Habaj, Abul-Hussain. "Sahih Muslim - Book 006 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 2378.". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Muslim-Ibn-Habaj, Abul-Hussain. "Sahih Muslim - Book 006 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 2391.". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Fasting (Al Siyam) - الصيام - Page 18, el Bahay el Kholi, 1998
- Islam, Andrew Egan - 2002 - page 24
- Dubai - Page 189, Andrea Schulte-Peevers - 2010
- Bukhari-Ibn-Ismail, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 125.". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Abu Dawud-Ibn-Ash'ath-AsSijisstani, Sulayman. "Sunan Abu-Dawud - (The Book of Prayer) - Detailed Injunctions about Ramadan, Hadith 1370". Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement of The University of Southern California. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Bukhari-Ibn-Ismail, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 199.". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Hilal Sighting & Islamic Dates: Issues and Solution Insha'Allaah. Hilal Sighting Committee of North America (website). Retrieved 19 August 2009.
- Bukhari-Ibn-Ismail, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 124". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Why Ramadan brings us together; BBC, 01 September 2008
- Help for the Heavy at Ramadan, Washington Post, 27 September 2008
- El-Zibdeh, Dr. Nour. "Understanding Muslim Fasting Practices". todaysdietitian.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Quran 2:184
- Muslim-Ibn-Habaj, Abul-Hussain (2009). "Sahih Muslim - Book 006 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 2415". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Ibn-Ismail-Bukhari, AbdAllah-Muhammad (2009). "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 144". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Fletcher Stoeltje, Melissa (22 August 2009). "Muslims fast and feast as Ramadan begins". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
- Levy, Faye; Levy, Yakir (21 July 2012). "Ramadan's high note is often a dip". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
- Davis, James D. (8 August 2010). "Ramadan: Muslims feast and fast during holy month". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
- Robinson, Neal (1999). Islam: A Concise Introduction. Washington: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 0-87840-224-1.
- Ibn-Ismail-Bukhari, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 125". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Ibn-Ismail-Bukhari, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 032 (Praying at Night In Ramadhan), Hadith 238". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Muslim-Ibn-Habaj, Abul-Hussain. "Sahih Muslim - Book 006 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 2632". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Muslims begin fasting for Ramadan". ABC News. July 18, 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
- Taryam Al Subaihi (July 29, 2012). "The spirit of Ramadan is here, but why is it still so dark?". The National. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
- Cochran, Sylvia (August 8, 2011). "How to decorate for Ramadan". Yahoo-Shine. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
- Quran, Short Commentary
- Quran Chapter 2, Revelation 185
- Quran Chapter 2, Revelation 183
- Bukhari-Ibn-Ismail, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 222.". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- Bukhari-Ibn-Ismail, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 223.". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- Bukhari-Ibn-Ismail, AbdAllah-Muhammad. "Sahih Bukhari - Book 031 (The Book of Fasting), Hadith 220.". hadithcollection.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- Sunan al-Tirmidhi I.145.
- Goyṭayn, Šelomo D. (1966). Studies in Islamic history and institutions. Leiden, NL: E. J. Brill. pp. 95–96. ISBN 90-04-03006-9.
- Probably Tisha B'Av (9th of Av) which is a fast day traditionally proclaimed as the day the Messiah will be born.
- Abdel Allah ibn Zakwan Abi al-Zanad. See Ibn Qutaybah,op.cit.page 204;Cited by Sinasi Gunduz, The Knowledge of Life, Oxford University, 1994, page 25
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ramadan|