Ramadan is one of the most important events in Islam, with over two billion Muslims worldwide. The spiritual aspect of Ramadan focuses on praying and charity rather than fasting. Let us learn more about the traditions and beliefs that surround Ramadan along with contemplating if these practices have changed with time.
What is Ramadan?
The ninth month marks the beginning of Ramadan in the Muslim calendar. Considered pious, people commonly fast (Sawm) from sunrise to sunset, pray for peace and seek Allah’s guidance in every possible manner. Muslims fast for the whole day without drinking water. The pre-dawn meal before the fast is called the Suhur, while the meal at sunset that breaks the Roza is better known as Iftar.
- Well-acclaimed is the fact that Prophet Muhammad PBUH received revelations of the Quran from Allah during the most blessed nights in this auspicious month.
- As per the prophet’s sacred belief – With the onset of Ramadan month, the gates of heaven open and that of hell closes. The demons are thus chained and it is thus a good time for spiritual reflection, self-improvement, reformation and taking a fresh start in your life with an optimistic outlook.
What Does Ramadan Mean?
The word Ramadan shares its origins with the Classical Arabic Verb “Ramiḍa (رَمِضَ)” which means “scorching heat” or “becoming intensely hot”. Ramadan is proclaimed in the history as the month of ‘Nātiq’ or ‘intensive happening’.
Ramadan is considered to ‘burn the sins of the believers’. Ramadan typically takes place in “scorching heat or dryness” of summers and promotes moral and spiritual cleansing through righteous deeds of its firm followers.
Beginning of Ramadan Month
The beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan gets confirmed after sighting the waxing crescent of the new moon. Muslims follow the Islamic Hijri calendar for the majority of occasions such as Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr), Eid al-Adha and the Hajj season.
This year, the holy month of Ramadan began in the evening of Saturday 2nd April 2022 and will last approximately till 2nd May, 2022.
The Crescent Moon and The Star
The Star and the Crescent Moon are usually observed on the top of the dome of the mosques. Both symbolize two distinct meanings. The five-pointed star reflects the five core pillars of Islam that are central to their faith in almighty and the holy Quran.
On the other hand, the crescent of the moon signifies the beginning and end of fasting during Ramadan. Altogether, The Crescent Moon and Stars depict the Greatness of the Creator.
3 Stages of Ramadan
Let’s delve into details of the three Ashra (stages) of Ramadan to gather a deep understanding of the significance of various obligatory Dua (Prayers) that are recited during the whole Ramadan month. It’s time to thank the almighty for a number of uncountable blessings he has bestowed upon us.
3 Ashra (stages) of Ramadan are –
📌 The Mercy of Allah (Rahmah) – The Initial 10 Days
It is highly proclaimed that if you are grateful, the lord surely works in favour of you.
The Dua for the First Stage is:
Dua: Rabbighfir Warham Wa Anta Khair-Ur-Raahimeen.
Translation: O! My Lord forgive and have Mercy and You are the Best of Merciful.
It is rightly said, “All Praise is Due to Allah”.
📌 Forgiveness of Allah (Maghfirah) – The Next 10 Days
The second 10 days of Ramadan are about seeking forgiveness (Istigfar) from Allah.
The Dua for the Second Stage is:
Dua: Astagfirullaha Rab – Bi Min Kulli Zambi Wa Atoobu Ilayhi.
Translation: I seek forgiveness from Allah, my Lord, for every sin I have committed.
Forgive people who have hurt you for the sake of Allah and he in return will forgive your misgivings too. Mend your relationships and let things go. This will open the doors of Allah’s rehem or mercy for you. Before everything, first forgive yourself and have confidence that Allah will forgive you too!
📌 Safety from the Hellfire (Nijat) – The Final 10 Days of Ramadan Month
Seeking refuge in Allah from all dangers and troubles that exist in the world.
The Dua for the Third Stage is:
Dua: Allahuma Ajirni minan naar.
Translation: O Allah, save me from the fire (Jahannam).
What is Salat?
The Salat is a series of obligatory prayers that Muslims recite five times a day facing Mecca. This dua is usually performed on a small rug or mat explicitly kept aside for this purpose. Muslims may pray individually wherever they are or gather together for prayers in a mosque. In the mosque, a leader in prayer (Imam) guides the whole assembly and gives religious advice to the followers as well.
When are the 5 Times of Prayer?
Muslims pray during the following times of the day –
- Salat al-fajr (at dawn or any time before sunrise)
- Salat al-zuhr (midday, after the sun passes its highest)
- Salat al-‘asr (during the late section of the afternoon)
- Salat al-maghrib (at dusk or just after sunset)
- Salat al-‘isha (between sunset and midnight)
How is Ramadan Celebrated?
The sacred text of the Quran holds great significance in Islam. Worship, Belief, Fasting, Almsgiving and Pilgrimage are the five core rituals of faith that are strictly observed and taken utmost care of in Ramadan month as well. The celebration period is for 720 hours i.e. four weeks and two days.
Apart from fasting, an essential practice of giving back to the community and society through charity or zakat is instrumental to these jubilations. Engaging in humanitarian activities such as feeding the poor, planting seeds, seeking the blessings of the elder and helping people around you become a part of your daily routine. Meanwhile, Introspecting and chanting prayers from the Quran is for the enlightenment of mind, body and soul.
Followers of Islam believe that fasting helps instil compassion for food and other underprivileged earthly creatures. Motivated by Hadith (statements or actions of Muhammad), Muslims visit mosques in large numbers and gather to pray night and day.
Special food items get cooked for each meal while visitors eat together at Iftar. A wide distribution of gifts is carried out in a proper manner which is considered a symbol of generosity in the Holy Quran. The month of Ramadan contains the most blessed nights, also known as “Laylatul Qadr” or “The Night of Power”.
Where is It Celebrated?
Many countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, India, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Bahrain, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and the majority of non-Arab countries are making arrangements to hold the festivities in a grand manner.
How to Celebrate Ramadan?
As greetings and happiness fill the air with Eid al-Fitr around the corner, Ramadan is the month for chanting prayers, fasting and seeking divine blessings. Planting seeds along with introspecting, distributing alms and caring for the needy ones with empathy and gratitude.
What is Ramadan Fasting?
Sawm or fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam. Sawm takes place from dawn to dusk during the whole month of Ramadan.
Roza (fast) is kept for the abolishment of the devil within us and to strengthen the Quran’s sacred or religious beliefs. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly pursuits.
The purpose is to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Muslims believe that fasting or this temporary deprivation helps in developing self-control and a sense of appreciation for the food we have along with empathy for those who are less fortunate than us. This makes one more aware of and grateful for everything that God has provided to them in their lives.
What Time Can You Eat During Ramadan?
Fasting is for the entire day without drinking water. Suhoor and Iftar are the two times in a day when you can break Roza.
Before dawn meal is popularly known as Suhoor. A pre-fast meal after which Muslims take a short break and then begin with the first prayer of the day, Fajr.
Muslims break the fast over sunset with an Iftar. Dates are eaten to commemorate Muhammad’s practice of breaking the fast with three dates.
Then everyone gathers for Maghrib, the fourth of the five required daily prayers. After this, the main meal gets served. Social gatherings during Iftar get frequently observed in banquets where the food gets generally served in a buffet style.
Many traditional dishes get accompanied by salads and rich desserts, many of which are only made during Ramadan. Water is usually the preferred beverage of choice whereas juice and milk are also often available alongside appetizers, soft drinks and caffeinated beverages. Deserts are regarded as the most important aspect of meals. Desserts include Luqaimat, Knafeh and the list is endless.
What to Abstain and Refrain from During Ramadan Fasting?
During Ramadan, Muslims aim to introspect and grow spiritually. This helps them get closer to Allah and their loved ones. During fasting, they must forgo and abstain from smoking, drinking and any sensuous activities or pleasures each day (between dawn and dusk).
It is advised to refrain from all kinds of immoral behaviour including impure or unkind thoughts. The list is inclusive of false words, abuses, bad deeds and even intentions that are destructive in nature.
Exemptions to Fasting
You are exempted from fasting if you are travelling and suffering from any severe illness. Women are excused during menstruation, pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. However, people with underlying medical conditions that insist on fasting are obliged to make up for the missed days later.
Gifts are the essence of most festivals and Ramadan is no exception. The Prophet Muhammad PBUH has said, “Give each other gifts and you will love one another”(Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 594).
Strengthening bonds with one another is the prime motto of these celebrations and according to me, gifts serve as the most appropriate medium for doing so. Choosing the right gift is also very important. Take a brief review of some thoughtful Ramadan gift ideas listed below –
Gifts for Kids
There is no meaning of an occasion or a get-together with families and friends without sweets. Kids especially devour sweets so make sure you buy them in abundance.
Halal Sweet Gift Box
A gift that will surely add smiles to those little faces. This Ramadan amp up the sweetness in your life with a halal sweet gift hamper. Is available in a variety of flavours like fizzy cola bottles, Bubblegum bottles and so on.
An intriguing gift for your child. The lamp light spreads pleasant vibes of the holy Quran as it plays Quran translation for you anywhere during the day. Let your children learn the true meaning of life while adding a fascinating bit of home decor to your place.
Let your little ones learn and play at the same time.
Gift for Adults
As we seek the grace of the almighty, let’s move one step toward the supreme power by giving others happiness. Some of the most relevant ones according to me are:
Dates are one of the most popular gifting options among the masses during this Ramadan month. A delicious ecstasy that gets available in different types, varieties and decorations. Dates are traditionally eaten with water to break the fast. The sweetness in them is not only overpowering but an ideal way in which your body recovers quickly from the effects of fasting.
There is no finer present than the Quran this Ramadan season. A bundle of two gifts together actually, one by whom it is given and one who receives it. Every time someone recites the Quran, the reader, as well as the giver, receives blessings from Allah. This sacred book of wisdom has great significance in the Islamic religion. It is said –
“He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him.”
The “Feast of Fast-Breaking,” or Eid al-Fitr is considered quite auspicious and gets observed towards the very end of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr celebrations are quite elaborate with people gathering for family meals and for praying together in mosques, wearing new clothes, baking special pastries and exchanging gifts.
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Ramadan Kareem Mubarak to each and everyone out there.