Written by Senior Litigation Executive, Kausar Choudry
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the month of fasting for all Muslims around the world.
When is Ramadan?
In the ninth month of the Islamic calendar named Ramadan, also spelt Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan or Ramathan, worldwide Muslims are required to fast, pray and give to charity.
There – is a fixed percentage of income a believer is required to give to the poor; and the practice is obligatory as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and reflects on their actions. Because Islam uses a lunar calendar, the month of Ramadan comes around 11 days earlier each successive year. Ramadan is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam and lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.
What do Muslims do during Ramadan?
Acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and giving to charity are encouraged during the holy month. Muslims also believe the Quran was revealed in Ramadan.
Good reasons for fasting include:
- Obeying God
- Learning self-discipline
- Becoming spiritually stronger
- Appreciating God’s gifts to us
- Sharing the sufferings of the poor and developing sympathy for them
- Realising the value of charity and generosity
- Giving thanks for the Holy Quran, which was first revealed in the month of Ramadan
- Sharing fellowship with other Muslims
- There is congregational prayer when the entire Quran is recited from cover to cover over the course of the month
Muslims who are physically or mentally unwell may be excused from fasting; as may those who are under twelve years old, the very old, those who are pregnant, breast-feeding, menstruating, or travelling.
If an adult does not fast for the reasons above, they should try to make up the fast at a later date or make a donation to the poor instead.
What’s the spiritual purpose of not eating during daylight?
The spiritual purpose of fasting is the surrender, the submission to a higher authority, which is the creator. Not eating is central because, as human beings, how many times do we aim our hands toward our mouth? Many. It’s the physical body we are feeding all day, but by abstaining from eating, Muslims are paying attention to the pains of hunger and thirst, and that makes us aware of those who don’t get to break their fast because they’re hungry all the time. It makes us very grateful for what we do have.
Muslims are not physical beings exclusively. Muslims are spiritual beings housed in a physical container. The physical body has its life, and we have obligations to it, but it will be left behind. We can’t let this physical body dominate the narrative.
What do Muslims avoid when fasting?
- Abstain from physical things during Ramadan and no food or drink is allowed after dawn and before sunset
- Smoking, including passive smoking
- Sexual activity
- Also expected to do their best to avoid evil thoughts and deeds
In summary, all this might appear difficult, but for the followers of Islam, Ramadan is a joyous month of spiritual growth and late-night family meals. It ends with a three-day festival called Eid al-Fitr.