Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Ramadan: History, Significance, Practices, and Laws

  Tim       Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Ramadan also known and pronounced as Ramzan, Ramadhan, is the ninth month of Islamic calendar marked by fasting, prayers in congregation (taraweeh), recitation of Quran, zakat, acts of charity at community level and self-control and self-reflection. 

Fasting in Ramadan(sawm) is mandatory for at least 29 or at most 30 days in the month. Ramadan begins after crescent moon is sighted and ends with appearance of new month's moon. Fasting in Ramadan takes place from sunrise to sunset. 

Fasting begins with suhoor(pre-dawn lunch/meal) and ends with iftaar(sunset lunch/meal). All Muslims are obligated to keep fast unless they are sick, travelling, breastfeeding or menstruating women. 

During the fast, Muslims are prohibited from engaging in eating, drinking, smoking or sexual relationships. The benefits and virtues of fasting in Ramadan are manifold, more than normal days, and any good deed done with pure intention is more rewarding. 

Ramadan


The History of Ramadan 

The Islamic belief hodls that all scriptures, Quran, Torah, Psalms, Scrolls of Abraham, and Gospel were revealed in Ramadan respectively and Quran was sent down on Islam's last Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon Him) in Ramadan too. Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) received the first Quranic verse on Laylat-al-Qadr, which is one of the five odd-numbered nights in the final Ashra(last days of Ramadan). 

Quran says about Ramadan: 

"The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful."[Quran 2:185]
Allah made it mandatory to fast for all Muslims in the second year of Hijra (642 CE). In Arab culture, fasting on particular days was already existent as pagans of Mecca fasted on the tenth day of Muharram as a prayer to avoid drought and atone for their sins. 


Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ramadan100years1938-2037.png

Night of Destiny (Laylat-al-Qadr) 

Laylat-al-Qadr is recognized as the holiest night of the year. Laylat-al-Qadr takes place on an odd-numbered night in the last ten days of Ramadan. 




EID 

The month of Ramadan is followed by Eid-al-Fitr, which falls on the first day of 10th Islamic month, Shawwal. On Eid day, Muslims are allowed to eat, drink and engage in marital relationships at any duration of the day. Eid is a day of festivity, prayer, greetings, get-to-together and family/social meet-ups. 

Ramadan Practices 

There are a few practices that are particularly associated with the month of Ramadan. 

Fasting 

Fasting takes place from dawn to sun-set and the pre-dawn meal is called as Suhoor and Iftaar(meal at sunset to break fast). 

Suhoor 

Each day in the month of Ramadan, Muslims wake up early before dawn to eat/drink and begins fasting by offering Fajr Prayer.

Iftar 

Iftar is the sunset meal that Muslims take before the time of Maghrib(mandatory prayer in a day). Muslims break fast by eating dates following the practice of Muhammad(Peace Be Upon Him). 

Charity 

For Muslims across the world, Ramadan is also marked by the practice of giving charity also known as Zakat. Also known as poor-rate, the rich and affluent Muslims are obligated to donate 2.5 percent of their wealth, assets and savings to those in dire financial conditions.

Night Prayers 

The act of offering Tarawee prayers(night prayers after mandatory prayer of Isha) is also specific to Ramadan. Muslims believers stand in prayers for eight or twentieth rakaat of Namaz which is concluded by Fitr prayers. Tarawee prayers are not compulsory though. 

Quran Recitation 

In the month of Ramdan, Muslims are encouraged to recite Quran as much as possible. 

Ramadan Laws in Muslim Countries 

In all Muslims countries such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, people are forbidden to eat/drink publicly. Dine-in restaurants are closed in the day time and non-Muslims living in the county are also advised to honor the month of Ramadan and abstain from eating and drinking publicly before Muslims who are fasting. The sale of alcohol becomes outlawed and any violation of these laws can result in penalty/fines and even imprisonment. 

Working Hours in Ramadan 

In most Muslim countries, the working-hours on employment are reduced and re-adjusted to match the routine of fasting. For example, employer may begin the work hours on 7 am in morning as opposed to 9 am in the normal days. 

The working hours are shortened and as result there has been outcry from employers about the loss of productivity in the month. Retail businesses see bump in their sales as Muslims spend lots of money on shopping before Eid for themselves and their children.  


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