Ramadan – The Muslim Month of Fasting
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. The dates vary each year as it is based on the lunar calendar.
Coinciding with Ramadan, we produce a booklet for the Christian world called, “30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim world” (which can be ordered here).
The first evening of Ramadan
In many places around the world Muslims will be looking to the heavens this evening. They will be interested in knowing if they will be able to see the crescent moon. If it is visible this will be the signal for the beginning of the month of Ramadan. (In most countries religious authorities will make a proclamation concerning the beginning of Ramadan). No fasting will take place till tomorrow morning. Muslims will rise early to eat their breakfast before the day begins. Afterwards they will not have anything else to eat or drink till nightfall. This will be their daily experience during the next 30 days.
Fasting – Ramadan
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of the religion of Islam and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship. Abstinence from earthly pleasures and curbing evil intentions and desires is regarded as an act of obedience and submission to God as well as an atonement for sins, errors, and mistakes. Called Ramadan (or Ramazan), Muslims fast during this holy month from the moment when it first starts to get light until sunset. Muslims fast as an act of faith and worship towards Allah, seeking to suppress their desires and increase their spiritual piety. Fasting together as a worldwide community – Ummah – affirms the brotherhood and equality of man before Allah.
The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. The month of Ramadan is the ninth month and begins with a combination of the sighting of the new moon and astronomical calculations. The exact time of Ramadan sometimes varies from place to place as some rely heavily on the moon sightings while others depend on science. An Imam (Muslim holy man) will declare the exact time of Ramadan just prior to its commencement. The fasting period ends upon the sighting of the next new moon, which occurs after 29 or 30 days.
The lunar cycle changes each year. For example, one year Ramadan was from the 22 August-20 September, but the year before the dates for Ramadan were 01-30 September.
The Meaning of Ramadan
The name Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word ramida or ar-ramad, denoting intense scorching heat and dryness, especially the ground. From the same word there is ramdaa, meaning ‘sunbaked sand’ and the famous proverb Kal Mustajeer minar ramadaa binnar – to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Some say it is so called because Ramadan scorches out the sins with good deeds, as the sun burns the ground.
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