Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, begins 10–12 days earlier each year, allowing it to fall in every season throughout a 33-year cycle and is considered one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims. It is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, spiritual reflection, and unity. This annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam and will be celebrated from April 2 to May 2 this year.
History of Ramadan
To understand how Ramadan became such an important part of Islam, we need to go back to the very beginning — 610 A.D., to be precise. This is the year during which an Arabian man by the name of Muhammad was meditating in the cave of Hira, located in the Jabal an-Nour mountain close to Mecca. While he was meditating, Muhammad was visited by the angel Jibril who revealed the first words of what later came to be known as the Qur’an. The angel told Muhammad that those words came directly from Allah and that He is the one and only God. At that time in Arabia, it was common for people to worship several different gods, but the angel told Muhammad that Allah is the only true God.
After revealing the words of God, the angel commanded that Muhammad recite what he had just been shown. Muhammad couldn’t read or write at that time, but he was able to recite the words perfectly. It was then explained to Muhammad that he was the last of the prophets who Allah had sent to spread the teachings of the religion of Islam.
The night the Prophet Muhammad first saw the angel Jibril is known as Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power). Many Muslims believe this night occurred on the 27th night of the lunar year (which is what the Islamic calendar is based on), though some believe it occurred on any of the other odd nights in the final 10 days of the month.
It is believed that the Torah was bestowed on Moses on the second day of the month of Ramadan.
On the 18th day of Ramadan, the Psalms (Zabur) are bestowed on David (Dawood).
On the 12th day of Ramadan, the gospel is bestowed on Jesus according to the religion of Islam.
The conquest of Mecca by Prophet Muhammad takes place on the 10th day of Ramadan.
Is fasting in Ramadan compulsory?
Fasting is only obligatory for Muslims who have reached puberty. So children who have not reached puberty are exempt but are encouraged to fast some days or a portion of a day. However, there are exemptions for those who are seriously ill or whose health would be at risk due to fasting such as the elderly and the infirm.
Why does it fall in different seasons?
Ramadan is a ‘Hijri’ month. The ‘Hijri Calendar’ is a lunar one composed of 354 or 355 days. It means that it takes 30 years for the holy month to return to any season.
What are the things that invalidate a fast?
Intentionally eating or drinking, intercourse, smoking, and menstrual bleeding invalidate a fast. However, eating or drinking if it is done through a genuine mistake or unintentionally, does not nullify the fast; followers can continue fasting as normal.
How to Celebrate Ramadan
Dine with family
It's customary during Ramadan to invite friends, family, and acquaintances over for "suhoor" (pre-dawn meal) and "iftar" (break of a fast). Muslims and non-Muslims both can join in the fun and community spirit.
Give to charity
If they are capable, Muslims give to those in need during this time. In general, they give at least 2.5% of their assets during Ramadan. People can donate to the ones they know personally who require assistance. They can also give to local charities and food banks.
Fast from negative behaviors
Muslims fast from certain behaviors during the month of Ramadan. They abstain from anger, jealousy, complaining, and other negative thoughts and actions. They pay more careful attention to their behavior during Ramadan.
5 Interesting Facts About Ramadan
The mental focus attained during Ramadan causes the body to improve brain function and reduce stress.
By not eating or drinking, a person’s body is given the chance to detoxify the digestive system throughout the month.
More nutrient absorption
During Ramadan, the metabolism becomes more efficient, which means the amount of nutrients a person can absorb from food improves.
Observing Ramadan has a positive effect on a person’s lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood.
Helps prevent diabetes
During the fasting process, glucose levels are stabilized, which can lead to the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.
Why We Love Ramadan
Ramadan is the month that brings people closer to their neighbors and the community at large. The best part is the distributing of food packages to the poor and homeless. Praying next to people they don’t usually meet builds peace in the community.
It develops good habits
The main goal during Ramadan is for people to become the best version of themselves. They make an effort to read and understand the Qur’an every day, try to be more charitable, and try their best to ditch bad habits.
Planning for Eid
Eid comes right after Ramadan but it’s still an important part of Ramadan. From buying new clothes to making plans for family gatherings, and getting ready to give gifts to loved ones, Eid is considered the reward for fasting!