What is Ramadhaan?

 ramadhan-mubarak

In less than a month, roughly 1.62 billion Muslims who comprise of about a quarter of world population will start the Holy month of "Ramadhaan" and fast throughout the month culminating in the celebrations of "Eidul-Fit'r (feast of fasting)" which is one of the two Islamic festivals of the year.


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Asslamo Allaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,

We greet everyone with the Islamic greeting of:

"Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be upon all of You".

What is Islam and who are Muslims?

Islam (the religion) literally means "Peace" and linguistically means "Submission" and a Muslim (the adherent to Islam) is the one who voluntarily submits and accepts the will of ONE God. The concept of ONE God (without any partners) is nothing new and it was propagated by all Prophets from Adam (Peace be upon Him) to the last one Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) and many well known ones such as Noah (Peace be upon Him), Abraham (Peace be upon Him), Ishmael (Peace be upon Him) , Jesus (Peace be upon Him), Moses (Peace be upon Him) and a Muslim reveres, honours and respects all of them equally and without distinction. The Holy Qur'aan (which the Muslims believe in) categorically states that Muslims affirm their belief in and make no distinction between prophets and previously revealed books by God as per their original teachings and text:

[2:285] The Messenger has believed in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and the believers as well. All have believed in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers. .We make no division between any of His Messengers,. and they have said, "We have listened, and obeyed. Our Lord, (we seek) Your pardon! And to You is the return."

In less than a month, roughly 1.62 billion Muslims who comprise of about a quarter of world population will start the Holy month of "Ramadhaan" and fast throughout the month culminating in the celebrations of "Eidul-Fit'r (feast of fasting)" which is one of the two Islamic festivals of the year.

Is fasting exclusive to Islam & Muslims?

Since Muslims believe in all the previous prophets and divine books, it is natural that many aspects of Islamic law have a common heritage with religions around the world and fasting is one of them. Fasting isn't exclusive to Islam (and Muslims), rather it was and still is prescribed in various forms around the world as the Holy Qur'aan states:

[2:183] O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may become God-Conscious

What's the point of fasting?

Fasting is practised to gain self-restraint, consciousness of God and to truly appreciate the common blessings of God which a person may take for granted throughout their daily lives. In addition, it also makes us realise the pain and sufferings of those who may have a little less than us!

What is Ramadhaan?

Islamic Calendar has twelve months and Ramadhan is the 9th month in which the Qur'aan was revealed from its "Protective tablet" to the first heaven (above the earth) from where it was revealed upon Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) in stages over a period of 23 years and hence designated by God for Muslims to fast therein as the Holy Qur'aan states:

[2:185] The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur‗an was revealed as guidance for mankind, and as clear signs that show the right way and distinguish between right and wrong. So those of you who witness the month must fast in it. But the one who is sick, or is on a journey (should fast) as much from other days (as he missed). Allah intends (to provide) ease for you and does not intend (to create) hardship for you. All this is so that you may complete the number (of fasts as prescribed) and proclaim the Takbir of Allah for having guided you, and (so) that you may be grateful.

When does Ramadhaan Begin & End?

The Islamic Calendar is Lunar in nature and the months begin by the sighting of the moon and end with the sighting of the moon (for the next Islamic month). The advantage of it being a Lunar calendar is that it rotates throughout the year and throughout seasons so over a person's lifetime Ramadhaan will fall in Spring, Summer, Winter & Autumn and all of the normal months of the year.

Each Islamic month is either 29 or 30 days and as taught by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) Muslims around the world attempt to sight the moon on the 29th of every month, in the following saying of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) Sha'baan is the 8th month i.e. the month previous to Ramadhaan.

"The month (can be) 29 nights (i.e. days), and do not fast till you see the moon, and if the sky is overcast, then complete Sha'baan as thirty days." [Bukhari]

2012 is equivalent to 1433 (Islamic year) and Ramadhaan 1433 is predicted to begin from Saturday the 21st of July 2012.

Who is supposed to fast and who is exempt?

Every adult Muslim (man or woman) is required to fast with general exemptions being:


1 Patients


2 Those with insufficient strength to fast


3 Those who are travelling


4 Pregnant & Nursing Mothers


5  Menstruating and woman with Lochia (Postnatal Bleeding)

 

They can make up the missed fast on any days (outside of Ramadhaan) while those with insufficient strength and no hope of regaining their strength (and health) can pay (in charity) the amount equivalent to the cash value of 1.75 kilograms of wholemeal wheat flour for each missed fast.

How long is the Fast?

The fast lasts from the appearance of true dawn (roughly 100 minutes before sunrise) to sunset. In Wolverhampton (UK) the sunrise/sunset times for the 21st of July 2012 (which is predicted to be the 1st day of Ramadhaan) according to Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac are as follows:

Wolverhampton (West-Midlands, UK): 21st of July 2012

Sunrise

Sunset

05:12

21:17

What exactly is "Fasting" in Islam?

Fasting in Islam is not only restraining from food and drink but also from sexual intercourse, quarrels, arguments and harming other in general and engaging in as much positive as possible by reciting the Qur'aan and performing (charitable and other) acts of worship.

During the night Muslims are encouraged to engage in special nightly prayers called "Taraweeh" in which the Holy Qur'aan is recited and these extra prayers are help in Mosques around the world throughout the month of Ramadhaan.

Any days of nights of Ramadhaan which are extra special?

The last 10 days and nights (particularly the odd numbered nights i.e. 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th & 29th) are significantly blessed and dear to Muslims as the "Night of Power" which is the most significant night for a Muslim (throughout the year). It is in this night (of power) specifically during Ramadhaan that the Holy Qur'aan was revealed:

[97:1] We have sent it (the Holy Qu'raan) down in the Night of Qadr (Power). [97:2] And what may let you know what the Night of Qadr (Power) is? [97:3] The Night of Qadr (Power) is much better than one thousand months. [97:4] The angels and the Spirit descend in it, with the leave of your Lord, along with every command. [97:5] Peace it is till the debut of dawn.

Any special Charity during the month of Ramadhaan?

Muslims are encouraged to be extra generous during this month but the charity of "Fitrana (Sadaqatul-Fit'r)" is obligated on all Muslims who fast and this is roughly equivalent to the cash value of 1.75 kilograms of wholemeal wheat flour, although they can give more if they so wish. This charitable contribution needs to be made before the Muslims pray (and begin) and festivities of Eid.

What is Eid?

Muslims celebrate two festivals throughout the year and "Eidul-Fit'r (feast of fasting)" "Eidul-Adha (feast of sacrifice of Abraham (Peace be upon Him))" with the former being after the end of Holy month of Ramadhan. At the end of 29 days of Ramadhaan at sunset Muslims attempt to sight the (new moon) and if sighted the festival is celebrated the next day otherwise 30 days of Ramadhaan are completed.

This is generally a joyous occasion of meeting with family, friends and community and celebrating together. It should be noted that "Eidul-Fit'r (feast of fasting)" is actually the first day of the next (10th) Islamic month of Shawwal.