What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on a twelve month lunar year of approximately 354 days. Because the lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar year, each lunar month moves 11 days earlier each year. It takes 33 solar years for the lunar months to complete a full cycle and return to the same season. This year (2018), the month long fast of Ramadan is set to begin on Tuesday 15th May. The month traditionally begins and ends based on the sighting of the first crescent of the new moon. Starting on May 14th, Muslims throughout the UK and the rest of the world will begin to search the sky for the new crescent, or in some cases, they will follow a pre-determined date based on astronomical calculation. During this month, Muslims fast from pre-dawn until sunset, as a means to grow in God-consciousness and moral excellence.
The Length and Purpose of Fasting
Muslims fast from pre-dawn to sunset, a fast of between 9-19 hours depending on the time of year for a period of 29-30 days. The fast of Ramadan entails forgoing food and drink, and if married, abstaining from sex during the fasting hours. For Muslims, Ramadan is a time to train themselves both physically and spiritually by avoiding any negative acts such as gossiping, backbiting, lying or arguing. Muslims welcome Ramadan as an opportunity for self-reflection, and spiritual improvement. Ramadan is also a highly social time as Muslims invite each other to break fast together and meet for prayers at the mosque.
The ultimate goal of fasting is gaining greater God-consciousness, in Arabic, Taqwa, signifying a state of constant awareness of God. From this awareness a person should gain discipline, self-restraint and a greater incentive to do good and avoid wrong. In commemoration of the revelation of the Qur’an (Islamic holy book), in which the first revelation came down during the month of Ramadan; Muslims attempt to read the entire book during Ramadan and gather nightly at mosques to hold special prayers during which the entire Qur’an is recited by the end of the month.
Ramadan Is not only about fasting
Fourth Pillar of Islam
comes from the Arabic root ra-mi-da or ar ramad, meaning scorching heat/dryness.
Islam consists of 5 Pillars:
1) Shahadah - Declaraion of Faith
2) Salah - Prayer
3) Zakah - Alms giving
4) Sawm - Fasting in the month of Ramadan
5) Hajj - Pilgrimage once in your life to the Islamic Holy Lands
The Qur'an - the Islamic holy book containing the verbatim word of God was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (may peace & blessings of God be upon him) via the angel Gabrial in the month of Ramadan. This is the reason why Muslims all over the world put extra emphasis and effort to read, recite and reflect on the Qur'an throughout the month of Ramadan.
During the month of Ramadan, the reward for good deeds are multiplied many fold by God. Muslims throughout the world take advantage of this by seeking closeness to God by acts of worship and remembrance of Him.
Muslims throughout the world take advantage of the extra reward for good deeds in the month of Ramadan by donating more in charity to different organisations throughout the world; helping those who the poor, the needy and those who are suffering.
Muslims come together as a community in the Mosques around the world and pray additional night prayers every night throughout the month of Ramadan.