What Do You Know about Ramadan?

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Fasting the lunar month of
Ramadan is such an important
Pillar of Islam that Muslims
believe that if one dies without
having made up the missed
fasts, the guardian (or heir)
must make them up, for they
are a debt owed to Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad
(peace and blessings be upon
him) said, “Whoever observes
fasts during the month of
Ramadan out of sincere faith,
and hoping to attain Allah’s
rewards, then all his past sins
will be forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari)
Muslims believe that the
influence of the devils on the
believers who obey Allah is
diminished. Prophet
Muhammad said, “When the
month of Ramadan starts, the
gates of the Heaven are
opened and the gates of Hell
are closed and the devils are
chained.” (Al-Bukhari)
Month of the Qur’an
Muslims believe that the first
verses of the Qur’an ( Surat Al-
`Alaq 96:1-5) were revealed in
the month of Ramadan while
Muhammad was in spiritual
retreat in the cave of Hira’
outside of Makkah. Years later
when the fast of Ramadan was
made compulsory, the Angel
Jibreel used to sit with
Muhammad every day during
Ramadan so that the latter
could recite all that had been
revealed so far of the Qur’an.
In his final year, the Prophet
recited the entire Qur’an twice
in Ramadan.
Muslims continue the tradition
of reading the entire Qur’an at
least once during Ramadan. In
Muslim countries, it is not at
all unusual in this month to
see many people reading the
Qur’an while riding the bus or
metro to and from work.
Others find time early in the
morning, late at night, or at
intervals throughout the day.
Many others read or recite the
Qur’an during Tarawih Prayers,
which are held only during
Ramadan, or in private late
night prayers called Tahajjud .
Muslims who cannot yet read
Arabic well, spend some time
each day listening to a tape or
CD of the Qur’an being recited.
Muslims consider Ramadan to
be a good time to get into the
habit of reading at least some
of the Qur’an or its translation
every day, and if they haven’t
read either of them cover to
cover, Ramadan is the time to
do it.
Other Acts of Worship
In addition to reading the
Qur’an , Muslims try to spend
more time in dhikr
(remembrance of Allah) during
this month and make an effort
to perform Tarawih Prayer,
preferably in congregation.
Muslims also sometimes
perform the late night Prayer
called Tahajjud . They may do
this before or after eating the
pre-dawn meal, just before the
Fajr (Dawn) Prayer.
Ramadan is also a favourite
time for `Umrah – a visit to
the Ka`bah in Makkah. When
performed in Ramadan, `Umrah
takes the same reward as Hajj
(but it does not replace the
obligatory Hajj).

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How Muslims Fast
According to Muslims, fasting
means abstaining not only
from food and drink, but also
from sexual intercourse, lying,
arguing, and back-biting. While
fasting, Muslims must be
careful to restrain their
tongues, temper, and even their
gaze. Ramadan is the time for
Muslims to learn to control
themselves and to develop
their spiritual side.
Basically, Muslims try to have
a pre-dawn meal, known as
sahur, before they begin
fasting. The fast lasts from
dawn to sunset. As soon as
the sun has set, Muslims break
their fast without delay.
Generally, Muslims may break
their fast with a small amount
of food – the sunnah is to do
so with an odd number of
dates – and then perform the
Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer before
eating a full meal.

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Charity in Ramadan
Ramadan is also the month of
charity. Prophet Muhammad
said, “…Whoever draws nearer
(to Allah) by performing any of
the (optional) good deeds in
(this month), shall receive the
same reward as performing an
obligatory deed at any other
time; and whoever performs an
obligatory deed in (this
month), shall receive the
reward of performing seventy
obligations at any other time.
It is the month of patience,
and the reward of patience is
Paradise.
It is the month of charity, and
a month in which a believer’s
sustenance is increased.
Whoever gives food to a
fasting person to break his
fast shall have his sins
forgiven, and he will be saved
from the Hell-Fire, and he shall
have the same reward as the
fasting person, without his
reward being diminished at
all.” (Ibn Khuzaymah)
Ibn `Abbas, one of the
Prophet’s Companions,
narrated: “The Prophet was the
most generous amongst the
people, and he used to be
more so in the month of
Ramadan when Jibreel visited
him, and Jibreel used to meet
him on every night of
Ramadan till the end of the
month. The Prophet used to
recite the Qur’an to Jibreel,
and when Jibreel met him, he
used to be more generous than
a fast wind (which causes rain
and welfare).” (Al-Bukhari)
Thus Muslims should try to
give generously in Ramadan,
both sadaqah (optional
charity) and zakat al-mal
(obligatory charity). Sadaqah
does not only have to be
money. It can also be a good
deed—such as helping another
person – done for the sake of
Allah and without expecting
any reward from the person.
Most Muslims pay their zakah
during Ramadan because the
reward is so much greater in
that month .
It is obligatory for every
Muslim to pay a small amount
of zakat al-fitr before the end
of Ramadan. This money is
collected and given to the
poorest of the poor so that
they may also enjoy the
festivities on `Eid Al-Fitr .
And because of the great
reward for feeding a fasting
person, in many places iftar
(the break-fast meal at
sunset) is served in mosques,
with the food donated or
brought by individuals to share
pot-luck style. In some Muslim
countries, tables are set up on
the sidewalks or outside of
mosques to serve iftar to the
poor and others. Such
traditions also build a sense of
brotherhood and community.
Families and friends also like
to share iftar . However,
sometimes this generosity is
exaggerated so that Ramadan
becomes a month of lavish
tables and overeating . This
goes against the spirit of
Ramadan and should be
avoided.
The Last Third
Muslims also believe that the
last ten days of Ramadan are
the holiest of all, and try to
make even greater efforts at
that time to increase their
worship. The holiest night of
all, Laylat Al-Qadr , falls on one
of the odd numbered nights of
the last ten days.

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`Eid Al-Fitr
The public celebration at the
end of Ramadan, on the first
day of the month of Shawwal,
is called `Eid Al-Fitr . After
sunset on the 29th of
Ramadan, Muslims wait for the
announcement of whether the
new moon has been sighted,
which means that Ramadan is
finished and the next day is
`Eid. In that case, there are no
Tarawih Prayers that night. If
the moon has not been
sighted, then there is one more
day of fasting and the Tarawih
Prayers are performed.
The `Eid is celebrated with
public Prayers and a sermon,
often followed by some form of
halal (lawful) celebration such
as games for the children or
sweets shared by everyone. It
is a happy day for all. Although
`Eid Al-Fitr lasts only one day,
in Muslim countries, schools,
offices, and shops are often
closed for two or three days.
It’s Not Over Till It’s Over
If any of the days of fasting
were missed, they must be
made up before the next
Ramadan. Muslims generally
should try to make them up as
soon as possible because any
days that are missed are
considered as a debt to Allah.
Muslims believe that if
someone dies without having
made up the fasts, the
guardian or heir should fast
the remaining days.
For Muslims, it is a sunnah to
fast six days during the month
of Shawwal, the lunar month
immediately following
Ramadan. Muslims believe
that if a Muslim fasts all of
Ramadan and then fasts any
six days in Shawwal, the
reward will be as if he or she
has fasted the whole year.
Many Muslims do take
advantage of this mercy from
Allah.

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