Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar
calendar. It begins with the sighting of the new
moon after which all physically mature and healthy
Muslims are obliged to fast for the complete
month. Fasting is done as an act of worship and
obedience to Allah (God). Between dawn and
sunset, Muslims abstain from all food, drink and
any kind of sexual contact. In addition to this
physical component, the spiritual aspects of the
fast include an added emphasis on refraining from
gossip, lies, obscenity and in general, any sinful act.
God says in the Holy Quran:
O ye who believe!
Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those
before you,that ye may (learn) self-restraint...Ramadan
is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a
guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and
judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of
you who is present (at his home) during that month
should spend it in fasting...
Islam is a continuation of the religion of Abraham,
Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). Hence, it
is not surprising to find references to fasting in
Judaism and Christianity. Other faiths also enjoin
fasting, as they recognize its spiritual benefits.
Fasting is thus universally known as a means of
gaining self-discipline and of gaining closeness to
God. It is the third of the Five Pillars of Islam. The
others are declaration of faith (Shahadah), prayer
(Salah), charitable-giving (Zakah), and the pilgrimage
to Makkah (Hajj). Fasting, together with
the other pillars, forms the foundation of the faith.
It instills in the individual a feeling of closeness to
God and a desire to do good deeds at all times.
Purity of both thought and action are emphasized
whilst fasting.The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)1 is
reported to have said: He who does not desist
from obscene language and acting obscenely (during
the period of fasting),Allah has no need that he
does not eat or drink.. The Prophet (pbuh) also
said: Fasting is not only from food and drink, fasting
is to refrain from obscene (acts). If someone
verbally abuses you or acts ignorantly toward you,
say (to them) I am fasting; I am fasting.
It is common to have one meal (known as Suhoor),
just before sunrise and another (known as Iftar),
directly after sunset. The breaking of the fast
(Iftar) usually consists of dates, following the
tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Ramadan strengthens the community: Muslims
invite one another for the Iftar meals, and thereby
create concern and friendship among neighbors,
families and friends. Many people also take Iftar to
the mosque and share it with the wider community,
especially the poor and needy.
All Muslims, from the age of puberty who are
physically and mentally well should observe fasting
during the month of Ramadan. Islam is a practical
way of life and does not place hardship on those for
whom the fast would be too difficult. The sick and
those traveling may defer their fast until their illness
or journey is over. Pregnant women and nursing
mothers may also postpone the fast. The very old,
who are too weak to fast, and those who have a
permanent illness that prevents them from fasting,
are excused from fasting.They may feed a needy person
for every day missed, if they can afford to do so.
The mentally ill are also exempt from fasting.
Benefits Of Fasting
Fasting is an act of deep personal worship to God in which
Muslims seek to raise their level of God-consciousness.
The act of fasting redirects the heart away from
worldly activities and towards the remembrance of God.
Muslims focus during this month on strengthening
their relationship with the Creator. It is a time for
spiritual reflection, prayer and doing of good deeds.
Fasting is intended to inculcate self-discipline, selfrestraint
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, Indeed,
anyone who fasts for one day for Allahs Pleasure,
Allah will keep his face away from the (Hell) fire for
(a distance covered by a journey of) seventy years.
The sleep of a fasting person is regarded as an act of
worship, his remaining silent is regarded as glorifying
God, the reward for his good deeds is multiplied, his
supplications are accepted, and his sins are forgiven.
Fasting makes the individual more aware of the many
bounties of God. The hunger and thirst remind the
fasting person of the poor who may rarely eat well.
Fasting re-enforces the concept that wasting the
Creators bounties is a sign of ingratitude to Him.
Muslims are reminded to be extra-generous during
the month of Ramadan and to share the bounties that
God has provided them, giving generously in charity.
Our wealth is regarded as a trust from God, not really
our own; will we be greedy with it and spend it only
on ourselves, or will we strive to please Him by
sharing it with others?
A person who carefully observes the month of
Ramadan becomes closer to God.The self-restraint of
Ramadan make the heart and mind accustomed to the
remembrance and praise of God and to the obedience
of His commandments. It is therefore a spiritual
regime and a re-orientation process for the body and
mind - the extent of the benefit depends on the
performance and sincerity of the individual Muslim.
Ramadan Is The Month Of The Quran
God began revealing the Quran to the Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) during Ramadan in the year 610
C.E. The Holy Quran is known undoubtedly as the
most-read book in the worldfor it is a book that is so
often read, re-read and memorized, and all in its original
language,Arabic. In Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged
to focus as much time as possible on reading, listening
to and understanding the teachings of the Glorious
Quran. One of the ways Muslims get closer to the
Quran during Ramadan is through a long congregational
prayer known as Taraweeh that is offered in the late
evening after the breaking of the fast. During this
prayer it is customary that the entire Quran is recited
over the course of the entire month, by a person called
a Hafiz (Arabic, meaning protector).
A Hafiz is someone who has memorized the entire
Quran, word for word, cover to cover. Since it was
first revealed over 1400 years ago it is through the
many Huffaz (plural of Hafiz) of the Quran that God
has protected the authenticity of this Holy Book.
Laylat ul-Qadr, or the Night of Power, is a time for
especially fervent and devoted prayer, and the
rewards and blessings associated with worship on this
night are manifold. This night is known to occur during
one of the last fewnights of Ramadan, thus the incentive
to increase the nightly prayers during this time.
The end of Ramadan is marked by the sighting of the
new moon, which is followed by a day of celebration
known as Eid-ul-Fitr or the festival of fast-breaking.
Families wake up early in the morning, put on their
best clothes and go to the mosque for the Eid sermon
and congregational prayers. They thank the Merciful
God for having given them the opportunity to experience
the blessed month of Ramadan. The day is accompanied
by celebration, socializing, festive meals and modest
gift-giving especially to children. But before the
festivities begin, every person, adult and child, must
have already contributed towards Zakat-ul-Fitra. This
is the giving of a meal, or cash equivalent, to a needy
person to make sure that none are excluded from this
The Eid celebration is not merely about feasting and
socializing.There is a deep significance for those who
truly observed the holy month with their fasting,
abstaining from all bad habits and striving hard to
earn the pleasure of God. For the observant, the
Merciful Allah has granted Eid as a day for forgiveness
of sins. The Muslim is left with a feeling of happiness
and joy and a renewed energy to face the rest of the
year with faith and determination. Islam teaches that
the objective of life is to earn the pleasure of God.
The spiritual closeness that can be achieved during
the month of Ramadan serves this purpose for those
who truly work hard to benefit from it.
(1) Pbuh stands for Peace be upon him, an invocation of respect