Ramadan is a very special time for all Muslims around the world as it is the most scared month of the year in Islam. Ramadan is a month of fasting and Muslims all around the world abstain from things to be considered to be impure for the mind and body. Muslims also believe during Ramadan it is a time to become more closer to God and pray and ask for forgiveness and it is also a time for families to gather and celebrate. Those who fast during Ramadan abstain from food, drink, impure thoughts, smoking, alcohol, sexual activities as well as arguing, gossiping and lying. Muslims that fast have to abstain from food and drink between the hours of sunrise (Fajr) and sunset, allowing them to focus on prayer and connecting with God.
Fasting during Ramadan allows Muslims to understand the pain and suffering of millions of people around the world who are suffering with poverty, leaving the person to feel even more grounded and grateful for all that god has given them and blessed them with. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is written in the Quran (Muslims holy book). All Muslims around the world of age and in good health are expected to fast, fasting is a means of worship and to feel more closer to God. During the entire month of Ramadan Muslims will fast every day and will do extra prayer, increased charity and generosity, and intense studying of the Quran.
WHAT ARE THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM?
- Shahadah- The reciting and profession of the Islamic faith.
- Salah- Pray five times a day facing the direction of Mecca and performing ritual cleansing or wudu.
- Zakat- To give support to the needy and giving to charity based on your wealth to help those less fortunate. If you give donations during Ramadan it will hold a much greater reward for the donor.
- Sawm- Fasting during the month of Ramadan.
- Hajj- Make pilgrimage to Mecca, which every able-bodied Muslim must do at least once in their lifetime.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN RAMADAN IS?
Muslims follow a lunar calendar that is one based on the phases of the moon, Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan differs from year to year, if Ramadan falls in the winter the days are shorter and colder, if Ramadan falls in the summer which the days are longer and hotter which can be pretty brutal on Muslims due to not drinking or eating for around 16 hours. Muslims around the world wait until religious leaders announce they have seen the crescent moon stating Ramadan has started.
WHO CAN FAST?
Anyone who is of age upon reaching puberty and who is in good health.
WHO CAN’T FAST?
For those who are ill, pregnant or nursing their children, menstruating, people who are travelling. Also young children who haven’t reached the age of puberty and the elderly. (those who cannot fast must feed one poor person for each fast missed)
WHAT BREAKS OR INVALIDATES A FAST?
- Eats or drinks during the fast/chewing gum.
- Intentionally vomits.
- Has sexual intercourse/sexual activity during fasting hours.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Taking medication.
- (Muslims are also supposed to not think any negative thoughts or be angry of have jealousy)
- (Those who break a fast or miss a fast has to keep the fast at a later date before the next Ramadan starts)
HOW TO VALIDATE OR START A FAST?
For the fast to be valid a intention or niyyah must be made to fast. The commitment must be made everyday before dawn.
HOW TO OPEN YOUR FAST?
Muslims who fast wake up early to eat a light meal known as suhoor before dawn. Suhoor is normally eaten around half an hour before dawn in time for the morning prayer “fajr”. After the sun sets at the end of the day and the evening call to prayer “isha” Muslims typically opens their fast with water and dates followed by a meal called iftar. Many Muslims also go to the mosque for the evening prayer that is only recited during Ramadan.
WHAT IS ZAKAT?
Zakat is an obligatory act of charity and is the third pillar of the Islamic faith. As such, giving to charity is a huge part of everyday life for Muslims. In Islam, giving to charity is a great deed at any time of the year, however when combined with the auspicious month of Ramadan, donating Zakat is multiplied manifold, with untold blessings and reward for the donor. Ramadan charity is highly rewarded, the vast majority of Muslims choose to donate at this special time. Although it is not an obligation to donate during Ramadan, this is why so many Muslims choose to do so during this very special month.
WHAT IS EID-AL-FITR?
At the end of Ramadan there is a three day celebration called Eid-al-fitr, Muslims across the world attend morning prayers, visit family and friends and share feasts with everyone they visit also small gifts are given to each other. Eid-al-fitr marks the end of Ramadan and is the final act of celebration following the month of fasting. Eid is celebrated for 2-3 days, Muslims get dressed up for the occasion and attend the Eid prayer.