Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar (a calendar measured by the cycles of the moon). Ramadan is thought as the holiest months. The month begins as soon as the new moon is seen. Muslims have to go without from all food, drink, gum chewing, any kind of tobacco use, and any kind of sexual contact between dawn and sunset (Fasting during the month of Ramadan is to be carried out each day from when “the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread . . . till the night appears.” Quran 2:187). These are just the physical components of the fast. Other things Muslims should do are refraining from lying, gossiping, abuse, and all other bad deeds. All obscene sights and sounds should be avoided. This is done so that the mind can be clean of bad thoughts. The act of fasting redirects the heart and mind from the world and directs it to God. When a Muslim has an “urge” he/she is told to think of Allah, this raises the level of God-consciousness.
The month of Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends. In the evening some Muslims go to the mosque to perform extra prayers in a congregation, called Tarawih prayers. Every night during these prayers, one-thirtieth of Koran is recited, so that by the end of the month, the entire Koran has been read. People wish each other “Ramadan Kareem” or “Ramadan Mubarak”, this means a successful, happy and blessed month. During the last 10 days of the month, Muslims try and spend as much time worshipping in the mosque as possible. Some Muslims even spend the whole of the month there. During the month of Ramadan, it is also a very popular time for Muslims to visit Mecca and Medina (Holy Places).
A normal day of fasting for a Muslim starts with a very early breakfast called sahoor. Breakfast is eaten while it’s still dark, before the beginning of dawn. In a family home, there may be a variety of foods. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is to be carried out each day from when “the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread . . . till the night appears.” (Quran 2:187) Some Muslims then go to the mosque to do the dawn prayer (1 prayer out of 5) and they recite verses of the Koran and others do this at home. Some people go back to bed before carrying on with the day as usual, but this depends on the time. After the sun has set the fast is broken with a meal called Iftar. The tradition is to drink a glass of water with a date. Then the “proper” meal is eaten. The end of Ramadan is marked with Eid-ul-Fitr, But Eid is in the month of Shawwal and is not in Ramadan.
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At this time people usually visit their family or some may go to the mosque. Some people may be doing the fast for all the wrong reasons, “Anyone who fasts during this month with purity of belief and with the expectation of a good reward (from his Creator), will have his previous sins forgiven,) said, Prophet Muhammad. This may cause some Muslims to fast for reward. Before the main meal is eaten the Mahgrib prayer is recited. The poor are invited or are given food, so they can experience the pleasures of Islam. In Muslim countries the children go around the places where they live with candle-lit lanterns, singing songs at people’s doors and being rewarded with money and sweets.
If one accidentally breaks the fast, he or she can fast an extra day after the fast. If a Muslim breaks fast intentionally then he/she must go an extra period of 60 days. If their health stops them from doing this then they must pay for food for sixty poor people. Some people think that the Koran tells the people to go through hardship but Islam does not tell people to go through extremes, the Koran says “He (Allah) desireth not hardship for you” (Surah 2:185). People enjoy the food more because they have gone without the food because they will feel they deserved it. They will also appreciate the food more, and it will make them think about the people who don’t always have food available to them.
Explain the importance of Ramadan for Muslims and the ways it might affect their lives. Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, good deeds and also spending time with family, friends and loved ones. The fasting is intended to teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraining “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint, “Quran 2:18 and generosity. This quote from the Qur’an is a demand from Allah, thus making fasting a very important hardship in Islam. It also reminds Muslims of how the poor suffer and how some of the poor hardly ever eat. Some Muslims who have the Suhoor(meal just before sunrise) or Iftar( The meal right after sunset) will eat dates, which is what Muhammad ( PBUH) ate.
There is a feeling of togetherness because Muslims who are rich and poor fulfil the same demands of the fast, and in some places, they both share their food at night. This should also make them more generous towards them. Some Muslims seek Allah’s forgiveness and protection in this month. This is the month for some Muslims to renew their commitment and re-establish their relationship with Allah. It is like the spring season for goodness and righteousness. Some Muslims think that Ramadan and its demands strengthen their Iman (faith), and purify his/ her heart, soul and bad deeds. Muslims who take part will be constantly reminded of the importance of worshipping Allah, not just for this life, but for eternity.
“It is the month of endurance and the reward of endurance is Paradise”. Salman Al-Farsi (RA) told Allah’s Messenger (PBUH). They will also learn to appreciate all the good things they have every day and will thank Allah for them, this will stop them from taking them for granted. Although the fast is useful to health, it is considered mainly as a method of spiritual self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry, as well as growth in his or her spiritual life.
“For Muslims fasting has both advantages and disadvantages.” Do you agree? There are many good things as a result of fasting. Fasting helps one to feel compassion for those who are less fortunate and underprivileged. This is because each day Muslims feel a greater appreciation for what they have as a result of feeling hunger and thirst. The Muslim may gain good qualities such as perseverance and patience (“Putting up with a little hardship teaches a person to have patience and perseverance and develops the qualities of courage and steadfastness in the face of difficulties”- Ramadan and Id-ul Fitr, p.13) Fasting also allows one to build a sense of self-control and will-power, which can be of use throughout life in dealing with temptations and peer-pressure.
Through fasting, Muslims learn to control their normal urges such as hunger and thirst, and thus are able to better resist temptations for things that are not necessary, such as drugs or other unwanted habits. It also offers a time for Muslims to “purify” their bodies as well as their Iman (faith), by developing a better sense of humbleness, spirituality and community. Ramadan is a very spiritual time for Muslims, and frequently they invite each other to one another’s homes to break the fast and pray together. Muslims will believe that all their sins will be washed away (Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” – Volume 1, Book 2, Number 37).
Some disadvantages are that the day will be difficult for Muslims who are fasting to continue with their normal work, particularly anything demanding. The whole pace of life is slowed down in Muslim countries. Muslim countries are mainly very hot places which will also add to the difficult day as the Muslims will perspire more due to the heat and will not be able to quench their thirst. In Muslim countries, drums are played or drums are fired to wake up Muslims so that they are ready for the early meal. Whereas in a non- Muslim country, you would have to rely on yourself to wake up. Children in school are sometimes teased by their peers which is a big disadvantage and the confidence of the child may die. In the Qur’an, it says that God calls man to His feast while he is hungry, so then man can best appreciate the value of his payments