For Those That Know and Those That Don't
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast.Answer: During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours. As a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-sacrifice, Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking.Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits -- essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) literally means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words.During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person's body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one's self on the worship of God.
Question: What are the Islamic requirements for fasting during Ramadan?
For the Muslim, the fast of Ramadan has specific regulations and rules (fiqh). Islamic scholars have outlined the fasting requirements for the general population, and explain the accommodations that can be made when someone is unable to fast because of sickness or other health reasons.Answer: While many of the general fasting requirements are the same for everyone, it is best to consult one of the many detailed fiqh resources for specific rules and special circumstances. These links give more detailed information on general guidelines and special cases such as sickness, pregnancy, chronic health problems, and more.
Leyla al-Qadr: The Night of Power
During the last ten days of Ramadan, Muslims seek and observe the Night of Power (Leyla al-Qadr). The Qur'an describes this night in a chapter named for it:Surah (Chapter) 97Al-Qadr (The Night of Power)In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most MercifulWe have indeed revealed this message in the Night of Power.And what will explain what the Night of Power is?The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.Therein come down the angels and the spirit, by Allah's permission, on every errand.Peace! Until the rising of the morn!Tradition holds that the Night of Power is the night that the first revelation of the Qur'an was sent down to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are instructed to "seek" the Night of Power during the last ten days of Ramadan, particularly on the odd nights (ie. the 23rd, 25th and 27th). It is reported that the Prophet said: "Whoever stays up (in prayer and remembrance of Allah) on the Night of Qadr, fully believing (in Allah's promise of reward) and hoping to seek reward, he shall be forgiven for his past sins." (Bukhari & Muslim) Muslims worldwide spend the last ten nights of Ramadan in solid devotion, retreating to the mosque to read Qur'an (i'tikaf), reciting special supplications (du'a), and reflecting on the meaning of Allah's message to us. It is believed to be a time of intense spirituality, when the believers are surrounded by angels, the gates of heaven are open, and God's blessings and mercy are abundant.The whole month of Ramadan is a time of renewal and reflection. As the month winds to a close, we pray that the spirit of Ramadan, and the lessons learned during it, last for all of us throughout the year.
Benefits of Ramadan
* Through fasting, a Muslim experiences hunger and thirst, and sympathizes with those in the world who have little to eat every day. * Through increased devotion, Muslims feel closer to their Creator, and recognize that everything we have in this life is a blessing from Him. * Through increased charity, Muslims develop feelings of generosity and good-will toward others. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said, "A man's wealth is never diminished by charity." * Through self-control, a Muslim practices good manners, good speech, and good habits. * Through changing routines, Muslims have a chance to establish more healthy lifestyle habits -- particularly with regards to diet and smoking. * Through family and community gatherings, Muslims strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, in their own communities and throughout the world.Ramadan is a very special time for Muslims, but the feelings and lessons we experience should stay with us throughout the year. In the Qur'an, Muslims are commanded to fast so that they may "learn self-restraint" (Qur'an 2:183). This restraint and devotion is especially felt during Ramadan, but we all must strive to make the feelings and attitudes stay with us during our "normal" lives. That is the true goal and test of Ramadan.May Allah accept our fasting, forgive our sins, and guide us all to the Straight Path. May Allah bless us all during Ramadan, and throughout the year, with His forgiveness, mercy, and peace, and bring us all closer to Him and to each other.