Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Little About Ramadhan

I'm often asked what Ramadhan is (Usually spelled "Ramadan", but there is no D sound in the Arabic word... so Ramadhan is a more proper "Transliteration"). This post is a lil intro into Ramadhan and some of its actions and activities.
Ramadhan (Arabic: رمضان‎ ) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 to 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and sexual activity during the day and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality. Muslims fast for the sake of God (Arabic: الله‎, trans: Allah) and to offer more prayer than usual. Compared to the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadhan vary, moving backwards by about eleven days each year depending on the moon; thus, a person will have fasted every day of the calendar year in 34 years' time. Muslims believe Ramadhan to be an auspicious month for the revelations of God to humankind, being the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the prophet, Muhammad.

Origins of Ramadhan


The word Ramadhan is derived from an Arabic root rmḍh, as in words like "ramiḍha" or "ar-ramaḍh" denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. Ramadhan, as a name for the month, is of Islamic origin. Prior to Islam and the exclusion of intercalary days from the Islamic calendar, the name of the month was Natiq and the month fell in the warm season. The word was thus chosen as it well represented the original climate of the month and the physiological conditions precipitated from fasting. In the Qur'an, Allah proclaims that "fasting has been written down (as obligatory) upon you, as it was upon those before you". According to a hadith (tradition of the prophet Muhammad), it might refer to the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur.

The Beginning of Ramadhan


Hilāl (the crescent) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon indicates the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadhan.


There are many disagreements each year however, on when Ramadhan starts. This stems from the tradition to sight the moon with the naked eye and as such there are differences for countries on opposite sides of the globe.


For the year of 1432 Hijri, the first day of Ramadhan was determined to be August 1, 2011 (Depending on the sighting of the moon).

Practices during Ramadhan

Fasting

Ramadhan is a time of reflecting, believing and worshiping Allah. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. Sexual intercourse among spouse is allowed after one has ended the fast (after sunset). 

During fasting intercourse is prohibited as well as eating and drinking, one is also encouraged to resist all temptations while you are fasting (foul language, looking at unlawful sights, harmful actions... etc). Purity of both thoughts and actions is important. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity (Zakaat).


Muslims should start observing the fasting ritual upon reaching the age of puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women if they believe it would be harmful to them or the unborn baby, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. A difference of opinion exists among Islamic scholars as to whether this last group must make up the days they miss at a later date, or feed poor people as a recompense for days missed. While fasting is not considered compulsory in childhood, many children endeavor to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life (I remember my days as a lil man fasting, *Smiles*). Lastly, those traveling (musaafir) are exempt, but must make up the days they miss.

Prayer and reading of the Qur'an


In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Qur'an by means of special prayers, called Taraweeh, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Qur'an (Juz', which is 1/30 of the Qur'an) is recited. Therefore the entire Qur'an would be completed at the end of the month. 

Ramadhan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need. There is also a social aspect involving the preparation of special foods and inviting people for Iftar.

Iftar

Muslims all around the world will abstain from food and drink, through fasting, from dawn to sunset. At sunset, the family will gather the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar. The meal starts with the eating of a date and drinking of water or milk — just as Prophet Muhammad used to do. Then it's time for the Maghrib prayer (Prayer after sunset), which is the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meal is served.


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 mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time.


In Muslim/Predominately Islamic Countries, most markets close down during evening prayers and the Iftar meal, but then re-open and stay open for a good part of the night. Muslims can be seen shopping, eating, spending time with their friends and family during the evening hours. In many Muslim countries, this can last late into the evening, to early morning. However, if they try to attend to business as usual, it can become a time of personal trials, fasting without coffee or water.

Charity


Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramadhan. According to tradition, Ramadhan is a particularly blessed time to give in charity, as the reward is 700 times greater than any other time of the year. For that reason, Muslims will spend more in charity (sadaqa), and many will pay their Zakaat during Ramadhan, to receive the maximum blessings (reward). In many Muslim countries, it is not uncommon to see people giving food to the poor and the homeless, and to even 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.

Laylat al-Qadr


Sometimes referred to as "the night of decree or measures", Laylat al-Qadr is considered the most holy night of the year. Muslims believe that Laylat al-Qadr is the night in which the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Also, it is believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadhan, either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th.

Eid ul-Fitr


The holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر) marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadhan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, per the lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the back to the fitrah ; usually a special celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-fitr); everyone puts on their best, usually new, clothes; and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. Muslims are expected to do this as an act of worship, and to thank God.


Any More Questions About Ramadhan, I'm Open To Answer... Hit Me Up or Comment and I Will Reply !
-Is(Smile)-

3 comments:

Serendipity said...

Thank you for posting this fascinating blog. Although I am not Muslim, I admire & appreciate the religion and the traditions and cultures that come along with it. I didn't fully understand Ramadhan though, now I feel like one less ignorant individual LOL.

Calligrafist said...

Thank You For Checking It Out... LOL, I Help Where I Can. I Appreciate EveryOne That Looks at and Likes My Blog.

I Felt, A Lot of My Non Muslim Friends Didn't Know Much About Ramadhan.

More To Come, I'm Just Get Starting !

Anonymous said...

You couldn't have put it better

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