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Ramadaan explained to non-Muslims Print

Every year, the over a billion Muslims throughout the world observe the fast of Ramadaan. It is a time for repentance and building one’s relation with Allah (God). In addition, it is a training period for character development and through undergoing hunger, one learns sympathy with the underprivileged.


The month in brief

Ramadaan is the ninth month of the Muslim Lunar calendar. In it, the Quraan was sent down from heaven as guidance unto mankind. Fasting is called "sawm" in Arabic. The fast entails certain restrictions from dawn to sunset. During fasting one may not eat, drink, smoke or engage in sexual relations. Before dawn a meal called “Suhoor” is eaten. At sunset the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called iftaar. The fast is resumed the next morning.


Fasting is obligatory on Muslims who have attained puberty and are of sound health and mind. The ill and travellers may defer the fast.


Bad deeds and behaviour is shunned both to avoid loss of acquired virtues and as training for the rest of the year. During Ramadaan, it is common for Muslims to go to the Masjid (Mosque) and spend several hours praying and reciting the Quraan.


The Night of Power & Devotional Seclusion

In the last ten nights of this month, Muslims “search” for a special night called Layla tul-Qadr (the Night of Power). This night has many virtues. The reward of worship therein is equivalent to more than a thousand months’ worship. On this night the Prophet Muhammad (salutations and peace be upon him) received the first revelation of the Quraan. This night is when God decrees the course of the world for the following year. Searching for this night means observing virtuous acts hoping it to be coinciding with the sacred night. Many Muslims observe the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (salutations and peace be upon him) of devotional seclusion in the Masjid for the last ten days. This seclusion is called “I’tikaaf.”



When Ramadaan ends the first day of the next month, Shawwal, is celebrated as “Eid-al-Fitr” (the Feast of Fast Breaking). Muslims gather for a special prayer in the morning. Everyone wears their best attire. Meals are prepared and family and friends meet during this joyous day.


Some additional benefits of Fasting

Although the primary object of Ramadaan is attaining closeness and obedience to God, fasting has a number of subsidiary benefits:


1. In undergoing hunger, thirst and deprivation – even for a while – one’s heart softens and one gains a greater ability to appreciate the sufferings of others. One is thus more inclined to assist others.

2. It allows one to build a sense of self-control and will-power. One is trained in both character development and the will to resist forbidden deed sand harmful substances.

3. A greater community spirit and sense of generosity is developed.

4. The detoxifying effects of fasting is extremely beneficial to both one’s spiritual health and physical wellbeing.


sk/2008-09-11 14:52:56

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