Muslims are supposed to observe fast during this month. Fasting or sawm is intended to help teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity. It also reminds them of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well. The purpose of fasting is to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities.
Facts about Ramadan
The most blessed month for Muslims:
- The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root “ramida” or “ar-ramad,” which means scorching heat or dryness. Ramadan is meant to be the holy month for Muslims to fast from dawn till dusk and to abstain from the worldly pleasures in order to devote this time to prayers and charity.
- The month of Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is believed to be the month in which the first verses of the Holy Qur'an were revealed by Allah (God) to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
- The fast is obligatory for all sexually mature adult Muslims. Children get a pass, although parents usually begin teaching them to refrain for certain periods of time.
- During Ramadan Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. They are also supposed to avoid impure thoughts and bad behavior.
- The month lasts 29-30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
- While fasting from dawn until sunset Muslims are supposed to refrain from consuming food, drinking water and sexual relations.
- At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftaar.
- During Ramadan, it is common for Muslims to go to the Mosque and spend several hours praying 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.
- Ramadan contains Laylatul-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months. The last ten nights of Ramadan are spent praying, as people are not sure which the Lailat Al Qadr is. It is one of the odd numbered nights, for example the 27th, and it is the best night for prayer - 'better than a thousand months'. It is the night on which the first verse of the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.
- According to Islam, the rewards of fasting are many, but in this month, they are believed to be multiplied. Fasting for Muslims in this month, typically, includes the increased offering of salat prayers and recitation of the Quran.
- Fasting encourages the Muslim to do away with bad habits and change his/her circumstances for the better. In addition to fasting; Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Quran by means of special prayers, called Tarawih. These voluntary prayers are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Quran (1/30 of the Quran) is recited.
- Fasting does not just involve going without food and drink, smoking is also forbidden. Taking medicine breaks the fast, so the sick do not have to fast during Ramadan. They can make up the days they did not fast after Eid. Fasting does not pose any medical risks to healthy individuals. Sarah Amer, MS, RD, CDN, says, “The body has the incredible ability to adapt.” She reveals that it takes her only a few days of fasting to get back to her usual activity level.
- A team of cardiologists in the UAE found that people observing Ramadan enjoy a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood.
- The Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr ("festivity of breaking the fast"), marks the end of Ramadan.
- Ramadan ends with the festival of Eid al-Fitr. Literally the "Festival of Breaking the Fast," Eid al-Fitr is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations.
- The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a festival known as Id al-Fitr that is considered one of Islam's major holidays. Lasting three days, Eid al-Fitr is the time for family and friends to get together, for celebrating with good food and presents for children, and giving to charity.