Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Ramadan

Ramadan

Overview
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic month of fasting
Sawm
Sawm is an Arabic word for fasting regulated by Islamic jurisprudence. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means to abstain from eating, drinking , having sex and anything against Islamic law...

, in which participating Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s refrain from eating
Eating
Eating is the ingestion of food to provide for all organisms their nutritional needs, particularly for energy and growth. Animals and other heterotrophs must eat in order to survive: carnivores eat other animals, herbivores eat plants, omnivores consume a mixture of both plant and animal matter,...

, drinking
Drinking
Drinking is the act of consuming water or a beverage through the mouth. Water is required for many of life’s physiological processes. Both excessive and inadequate water intake are associated with health problems.-Physiology:...

, smoking
Smoking
Smoking is a practice in which a substance, most commonly tobacco or cannabis, is burned and the smoke is tasted or inhaled. This is primarily practised as a route of administration for recreational drug use, as combustion releases the active substances in drugs such as nicotine and makes them...

 and sex
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

  during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. Muslims fast for the sake of God
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

 ' onMouseout='HidePop("35674")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Allah">Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Ramadan'
Start a new discussion about 'Ramadan'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic month of fasting
Sawm
Sawm is an Arabic word for fasting regulated by Islamic jurisprudence. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means to abstain from eating, drinking , having sex and anything against Islamic law...

, in which participating Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s refrain from eating
Eating
Eating is the ingestion of food to provide for all organisms their nutritional needs, particularly for energy and growth. Animals and other heterotrophs must eat in order to survive: carnivores eat other animals, herbivores eat plants, omnivores consume a mixture of both plant and animal matter,...

, drinking
Drinking
Drinking is the act of consuming water or a beverage through the mouth. Water is required for many of life’s physiological processes. Both excessive and inadequate water intake are associated with health problems.-Physiology:...

, smoking
Smoking
Smoking is a practice in which a substance, most commonly tobacco or cannabis, is burned and the smoke is tasted or inhaled. This is primarily practised as a route of administration for recreational drug use, as combustion releases the active substances in drugs such as nicotine and makes them...

 and sex
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

  during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. Muslims fast for the sake of God
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

 ' onMouseout='HidePop("35674")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Allah">Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

) and to offer more prayer than usual. Compared to the solar calendar
Solar calendar
A solar calendar is a calendar whose dates indicate the position of the earth on its revolution around the sun .-Tropical solar calendars:...

, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving backwards by about eleven days each year depending on the moon
Lunar calendar
A lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on cycles of the lunar phase. A common purely lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar or Hijri calendar. A feature of the Islamic calendar is that a year is always 12 months, so the months are not linked with the seasons and drift each solar year by 11 to...

; thus, a person will have fasted every day of the Gregorian calendar year in 34 years' time. Muslims believe Ramadan to be an auspicious month for the revelations of God to humankind, being the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 were revealed to the Islamic prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

, Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

.

Origins of Ramadan


The word Ramadan is derived from an Arabic root , as in words like "" or "" denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. Ramadan, as a name for the month, is of Islamic origin. Prior to Islam and the exclusion of intercalary days from the Islamic calendar, the name of the month was Natiq and the month fell in the warm season. The word was thus chosen as it well represented the original climate of the month and the physiological conditions precipitated from fasting. In the Qur'an, God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 proclaims that "fasting has been written down (as obligatory) upon you, as it was upon those before you". According to a hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, this might refer to the Jewish practice
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 of fasting on Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

.

The Beginning of Ramadan


Hilāl
Hilal (Arabic term)
Hilāl is an Arabic word that means "crescent" or "new moon". It is an Islamic symbol, used by the Red Crescent societies and elsewhere.-External links:* *...

(the crescent
Lunar phase
A lunar phase or phase of the moon is the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, usually on Earth. The lunar phases change cyclically as the Moon orbits the Earth, according to the changing relative positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun...

) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon indicates the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan.

There are many disagreements each year, however, on when Ramadan starts. This stems from the tradition of sighting the crescent moon with the naked eye; as such, there are differences for countries in different parts of the globe. More recently, however, some Muslims are leaning towards using astronomical calculations to avoid this confusion.

For the year of 1432 Hijri
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

, the first day of Ramadan was determined to be August 1, 2011.

Fasting


Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 among spouses is allowed after one has ended the daily fast. During fasting, intercourse is prohibited as well as eating and drinking, and resistance of all temptations is encouraged. Purity of both thoughts and actions is important. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity (Zakat
Zakat
Zakāt , one of the Five Pillars of Islam, is the giving of a fixed portion of one's wealth to charity, generally to the poor and needy.-History:Zakat, a practice initiated by Muhammed himself, has played an important role throughout Islamic history...

).

It becomes compulsory for Muslims to start fasting when they reach puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women if they believe it would be harmful to them or the unborn baby, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. A difference of opinion exists among Islamic scholars as to whether this last group must make up the days they miss at a later date, or feed poor people as a recompense for days missed. While fasting is not considered compulsory in childhood
Youth
Youth is the time of life between childhood and adulthood . Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual's actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age, as immature individuals could exist at all ages.-Usage:Around the world, the terms "youth",...

, many children endeavour to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life. Lastly, those traveling (musaafir) are exempt, but must make up the days they miss. More specifically, Twelver Shī‘ah define those who travel more than 14 mi (22.5 km) in a day are exempt.

Prayer and reading of the Qur'an


In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Qur'an by means of special prayers, called Tarawih
Tarawih
Tarawih refers to extra congregational prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan. They are not compulsory; however, many Muslims pray these prayers in the night during Ramadan...

, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Qur'an (Juz'
Juz'
A juz is one of thirty parts of roughly equal length into which the Qur'an is sometimes divided. This division facilitates recitation of the Qur'an in a month, especially during Ramadan when the entire Qur'an is recited in the Tarawih salat; reciting approximately one juz' a night...

, which is 1/30 of the Qur'an) is recited. Therefore the entire Qur'an would be completed at the end of the month. However it is not required to read the whole Qur'an in the Salatul Tarawih
Tarawih
Tarawih refers to extra congregational prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan. They are not compulsory; however, many Muslims pray these prayers in the night during Ramadan...

.

Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need. There is also a social aspect involving the preparation of special foods and inviting people for Iftara.

Iftar


Muslims all around the world will abstain from food and drink, through fasting, from dawn to sunset. At sunset, the family will gather the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar
Iftar
Iftar , refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. Iftar is done right after Maghrib time...

. The meal starts with the eating of three dates — just as Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 used to do. Then it's time for the Maghrib prayer, which is the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meal is served.

Over time, Iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time.

Charity


Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramadan. According to tradition, Ramadan is a particularly blessed time to give in charity, as the reward is 70 times greater than any other time of the year. For that reason, Muslims will spend more in charity (sadaqa), and many will pay their zakat during Ramadan, to receive the blessings (reward). In many Muslim countries, it is not uncommon to see people giving food to the poor and the homeless, and to even see large public areas for the poor to come and break their fast. It is said that if a person helps a fasting person to break their fast, then they receive a reward for that fast, without diminishing the reward that the fasting person got for their fast.

Laylat al-Qadr



Sometimes referred to as "the night of decree or measures", Laylat al-Qadr is considered the most holy night of the year. Muslims believe that Laylat al-Qadr is the night in which the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

. Also, it is believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan, either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th.

Eid Al-Fitr



The holiday of Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon
New moon
In astronomical terminology, the new moon is the lunar phase that occurs when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth...

 has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, per the lunar sighting. Eid Al-Fitr means the back to the fitrah; usually a special celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-fitr
Zakat al-fitr
Zakat al-Fitr is charity given to the poor at the end of the fasting in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The word Fitr means the same as Iftar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as Futoor which means breakfast.-Classification:...

); everyone puts on their best, usually new, clothes; and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. The prayer is two Raka'ah
Raka'ah
Rakaʿah are the prescribed movements and words followed by Muslims during salah .After turning to God in mind and ritual cleansing , the worshipper will stand quietly while reciting the first verses of the Qur'an. The second part of the rak'ah involves bowing low with hands on knees, as if...

only, and it is sunnah muakkad as opposed to the compulsory (Fard) five daily prayers. Muslims are expected to do this as an act of worship, and to thank God.
Presents are also given, mainly clothes and money.

Cultural aspects


Decorations


Ramadan is met with various decorations throughout the streets. In Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, lantern
Lantern
A lantern is a portable lighting device or mounted light fixture used to illuminate broad areas. Lanterns may also be used for signaling, as 'torches', or as general light sources outdoors . Low light level varieties are used for decoration. The term "lantern" is also used more generically to...

s are known to be a symbol of Ramadan. They are hung across the cities of Egypt, part of an 800 year old tradition, the origin of which is said to lie in the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 era where the Caliph Al-Muizz Lideenillah was greeted by people holding lanterns to celebrate his ruling. From that time lanterns were used to light mosques and houses throughout the city.

In other Muslim countries, lights are strung up in public squares, and across city streets, to add to the festivities of the month. In the West, many Muslim households have taken to decorating the inside of their homes to make Ramadan a more special time for their children. Eid is a huge celebration when all the Muslims go to mosque early in the morning pray and enjoy themselves for the next 2 or 3 days. Usually parents buy new clothes and toys for their children. A well cooked dinner is provided.

External links