Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The Month of Ramadan is also when it is believed the Holy Quran was sent down from heaven. It is during this month that Muslims fast. It is called the Fast of Ramadan and lasts the entire month. Ramadan is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation.
Lanterns and lights are used to make this month festive!
During the Fast of Ramadan strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours (an hour before sunrise until sunset). At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. Traditionally the fast is broken by having a glass of water and eating a date. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning.
During Ramadan, it is common for Muslims to go to the Masjid (Mosque) for special prayers and studying the Quran. In addition to the five daily prayers, during Ramadan Muslims recite a special prayer called the Taraweeh prayer (Night Prayer). The length of this prayer is usually 2-3 times as long as the daily prayers. Some Muslims spend the entire night in prayer.
One day during the last ten days of the month, Muslims celebrate the Laylat-al-Qadr (the Night of Power). It is believed that on this night Muhammad first received the revelation of the Holy Quran. And according to the Quran, this is when God determines the course of the world for the following year.
When the fast ends (the first day of the month of Shawwal) it is celebrated for three days in a holiday called Id-al-Fitr (the Feast of Fast Breaking). Gifts are exchanged. Friends and family gather to pray in congregation and for large meals. In some cities fairs are held to celebrate the end of the Fast of Ramadan
Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramadan. Zakat, often translated as “the poor-rate”, is obligatory as one of the pillars of Islam; a fixed percentage is required to be given to the poor of the person’s savings. Sadaqa is voluntary charity in given above and beyond what is required from the obligation of Zakat. In Islam all good deeds are more handsomely rewarded in Ramadan than in any other month of the year. Consequently, many will choose this time to give a larger portion, if not all, of the Zakat for which they are obligated to give. In addition, many will also use this time to give a larger portion of Sadaqa .
Don’t forget to wish your Muslim friends a “Ramadan Kareem” (happy Ramadan).