The Holy Month of Ramadan is received with great
religious fervor in the Islamic world. Religious and social traditions
during Ramadan have remained unchanged, linking Muslims of today with
The dates of Ramadan, the ninth month of the
vary due to the lunar calendar, failing approximately 11 days earlier each year.
The first sighting of the crescent moon announces the beginning of the fast.
When the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) first
left Mecca for Medina, he fasted for three days. Subsequently a revelation
from God established the obligation to fast a certain number of days, and thus
this determined the month of Ramadan. "O ye who believe1 Fasting is
prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn)
self-restraint." "Ramadan is the month of Ramadan should spend it
fasting..." (Chapter 2, Verse 183 and 185).
The fasting requires total abstinence from food,
drink and tobacco, and is one of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim
must fast from dawn to dusk. Exemption are made for certain people, for
example the sick, those on long journeys and nursing and pregnant women, w ho
shall fast the number of days missed at a later date. The elderly
and children below the age of puberty are exempt, although many families
encourage their children at the age of seven or eight the to fast for a few
hours each day to train them in the discipline.
Ramadan is not only a month of "moral
abstinence," but it also has the social virtue of creating new bonds of
understanding between classes of people. The fast practiced by the rich
and the poor alike reminds the more fortunate of the pangs of hunger that the
poor suffer. Fasting charity, patience and compassion.
Islam stresses equality; both the poor and the
rich, men and women are equal as devotees in the sight of God. God has
chosen the month of Ramadan to be the opportunity for Muslims to seek
forgiveness for their past sins. The prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him)
said that "... whoever fasts during the month of Ramadan with sincere faith
and hoping only reward from God Almighty will have his past sins forgiven."
The tenth day of Ramadan commemorates the death of
the Prophet Mohammed's (Peace Be Upon Him) first wife, Khadijah; the seventeenth
day marks the decisive victory of the Muslims over the unbelievers at Badr in
AH2 (Al-Hijra Calendar, or AD 424); and the nineteenth is the day of the prophet
Mohammed's (Peace Be Upon Him) conquest of Mecca in AH 8.
On one of the last ten days of Ramadan (on an odd
numbered day) is Lailat Al-Qadr, the "Night of Power." At this
time the prayers of the sincere Muslims are certain to be answered. Lailat
Al-Qadr, the very heart of Islam, is a very blessed night when the angels
descend and, "Peace it is, till the rising of the dawn." (Sura
XCVII) According to tradition, the Prophet Mohammed used to spend the last ten
days of the month in the m mosque at Medina. The Quran, the final
revelation of God, was revealed on Lailat-Al-Qader. "O people, a
blessed month is drawing near with one night better than 1,000 months."
During Ramadan, apart from obligatory prayers
Muslims are encouraged to do voluntary prayers, to recite and understand the
entire Quran, to do charity and, if able, to follow the example of the Prophet
Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him), and retire to the mosque for spiritual
contemplation during the last ten days of the month.
Each night during Ramadan special prayer services
are held at each local mosque in which one-thirtieth portion of the Quran is
read, completing the entire book by the end of Ramadan. Pepode stay awake
all night with prayers, especially the Taraweeh prayers. Women go to the
mosque for night prayers; there are also religious lectures in the mosques after
Ashr (afternoon prayer).
At sundown, the prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon
Him) broke the fast with dates and water. The fast can be broken with many
food that is not prohibited by Islamic law, but a simple snack of dates with
either yogurt and soup are usually consumed.
Following this, the sunset prayer
performed before the After meal. This is a full meal with soup, usually a main
dish such as "Tashiriba" (containing bread, chicken and vegetables),
fluids such as water,'laban', or an apricot-type drink.