Islam is considered to be the second largest religion followed by approximately 1 billion people, and Ramadan is the holiest month for the Muslims spread all over the world.
It is also known as Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan or Ramathan. The word Ramadan arises from the word ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ which means dryness or absolute scorching heat.
This is a month where the Muslims fast from dawn to dusk worldwide to commemorate the teachings of the Quran.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the 12 month of lunar calendar followed in the traditional Islamic calendar. As the lunar calendar is short by of the solar calendar by 11 days, Ramadan does not start on the same date every year. In 2019, Ramadan will start on the 5th of May.
History of Ramadan
It is believed by Muslims that Quran was first revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan. A vast part of the history of Ramadan independent on the Islamic folklore, which mixed with history gives details about Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad, who was the founder o Islam was born in the year 570 CE and grew up to be a shepherd and a merchant. According to the Islamic legends, one night at the age of 40, when Muhammad was fasting at the Mount HIra, in the month of Ramadan in the year 610 AD, he envisioned an angel. This angel was Gabriel or Jibril, who revealed to Muhammad that he was the last and the chosen one amongst a long line of messenger from Allah. The angel also revealed that he was born to be a prophet.
A greatly confused Muhammad confided this to his wife Khadija, who took him to her learned uncle called Waraqa ibn Nawfal; who was certain that Muhammad was indeed the Prophet as Jibril was none other than the divine angel who had visited Moses. In the 23 years that followed, Jibril imparted numerousholy knowledge through verses to Muhammad, which were later compiled to Holy Quran.
The auspicious night in which this divine knowledge was imparted to Muhammad is known as the Laylat al-Qadr; or the night of power. Thus the Laylat al-Qadr is considered to be the holiest night of the month when salvation and knowledge for mankind was revealed to Muhammad according to the Islamic beliefs. According to Hadith, all the holy scriptures were received during Ramadan.
Thus, as a mark of respect for towards Allah for the immense gift of knowledge that he had bestowed upon Muhammad for him to pass on to his sons and daughters and generations, Prophet Muhammad asked the followers of Islam to pass the month of Ramadan in fasting and making penance and praying. The dictum to observe fasting during the month of Ramadan was sent after 18 months of Hijra, during the month of Shaaban, during the second year.
Rituals and Fasting of Ramadan
Ramadan as prescribed by the Prophet is a time for reflection, self rectification and increased devotion. Muslims are supposed to fast from dawn to dusk during this month. The five pillars of Islam is to be worshipped and maintained during this period. During this period Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking, smoking or getting engaged in any kind of sexual activity. All the Muslims, who have attained puberty and sport good health are supposed to do it, exemption being pregnant women, lactating mothers, the sick and the infirm. Apart from fasting, the Muslim people are also supposed to refrain from cursing, lying, and back biting etc, as the Arabic word for fasting is Sawm, which literally means to refrain. There should be increased amount of salat or prayers and reading of Quran during this period. Fasting is also mandated, as it is looked up to as a way to cleanse one’s soul
The first pre-dawn meal of Ramadan is called Suhoor and the breaking of the fast is called Iftar. According to traditions, a date is eaten to break the fast post which families and friends can get together for elaborate meals. The conclusion of Ramadan is with Id-Ul-Fitr.