Introduction: The most sacred Islamic month in which pious Quran was revealed to mankind as a book of guidelines with full-proofs of guidance interpreting the difference between the right and the wrong acts. All those who desire to feel the bewitching divinity, they ought to observe ‘fasting’ or ‘Sawm’ till one month for getting relieved from hardships. Muslims across the globe observe fasting for a month while focusing on God and practicing self-sacrifice and take it as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is said that pure gold is extracted only after enduring extreme heat, similarly, a month long practice of fasting eliminates the affect of any sin and sanctifies the human body. Consequently, peace, harmony and prosperity bloom and even multiply by leaps and bounds.
Etymology: The word Ramadan has been extracted from an Arabic word Ramidaor ar-ramad that connotes scorching heat or dryness.
Occurrence: Lunar Islamic calendar has all the mentions regarding beginning and end of the month ‘Ramadan’.
- Beginning: The ninth month of Islamic calendar marks the beginning of Ramadan that is typically called Hilal, following to the astronomical new moon. Muslims assume the rise of new moon as the beginning of a new month auspicious for celebrating the starting of Ramadan. But few Muslims adhere to the authenticity laid in Hadiths that needs visual confirmation per region for its sure occurrence. The controversies have been consistent relating to its day’s variation since the time of Muhammad.
- Laylat al-Qadr or Night of Power: The most auspicious night in which the first revelation of Quran was dawned to Muhammad. The literary meaning of Laylat al-Qadr is the night of power or the night of decree. This night is considered as better than those of one thousand months while summoning god via worshipping.
Generally, it falls on every odd numbered night during the last ten days of Ramadan, i.e. 21, 23, 25, 27 or 29.
- End on ‘Id-ul-Fitr’: When the horn blows reciting the beginning of the next new month known as Shawwal, the announcement of triggering this pious month is made after visualizing another crescent new moon reciting the completion of 30 days of fasting. The very first day of Shawwal is known as Eid al-Fitr that declares resumption of all routine regimens, such as eating, drinking etc.
Practices during Ramadan:
- Fasting: It has been a traditional practice of keeping fast from sunrise to sunset by the followers during the entire month of Ramadan. It is necessary to begin fasting having surpassed puberty in order to have healthy and prosperous life. Every Muslim has to restraint his habitual activities like eating, drinking and also has to halt sexual relations along with other activities.
There are certain exemptions also for travelers, sick, pregnant and women those have to breast-feed and undergoing menses.
- Suhoor: Some Muslims have pre-fast meal which is called Suhoor that is to be consumed before outbreak of dawn. Afterwards, Fajr (worship) is to be conducted.
- Iftar: the meal taken after sunset is known as Iftar.
- Recitation of Quran: Muslims are taught to read pious ‘Quran’. Some of the Muslims recite the holy book Quran via prayer which is called Tarawih. These sessions of reciting Quran go on every night in the mosques during this month until it gets completed at the end of the Ramadan month. It’s a common practice but not the mandatory custom.