What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a 'month of blessings', marked by intensive prayer, Sawm (fasting), Sadaqah (charity), sacrifice and divine worship. Muslims believe that, in the month of Ramadan, Allah (SWT) revealed the first verses of the holy Qur'an. Muslims from all continents unite in a period of fasting and spiritual reflection.
As our Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: "It is Allah's Own month". It is the most sacred of all months and the most glorious one. 'Fasting' is one of the important five 'pillars' of Islam and it is during Ramadan that fasting has been made obligatory for all adult Muslims.
Fasting during Ramadan is an obligation imposed upon us by Allah (SWT) and, by completing it, we receive great rewards both in this life and the Hereafter. On the other hand, any deviation, without specified reason (such as illness or pregnancy) amounts to great sin. The good deeds or otherwise only concern Allah (SWT) and the person concerned. Hence, it is Allah (SWT) alone who will reward that person for it, on the day of Judgment.
Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance, and the duty of every Muslim is to read and try to understand the meaning of the Holy Qur'an, gaining insight into the divine secrets enshrined therein.
Ramadan brings peace and illumination to the mind and purifies the soul. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend daylight hours in complete fast. They also abstain from all food, drink, and other physical needs (such as smoking or sex) during daylight hours.
Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking; it is a time to purify the soul, refocus our attention on God, practice self-discipline and sacrifice, make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, and get rid of bad habits.
'Sawm', the Arabic word for 'fasting', literally means 'to refrain' and it refers not only to refraining from food and drink, but also from evil actions, thoughts, and words. During Ramadan, every part of our bodies must be restrained: the tongue, from backbiting and gossip; the eyes, from looking at unlawful things; The hand must give in charity and 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. Every part of the body serves the fast. Therefore, fasting is not merely physical but rather the total commitment of the person's body and soul to the spirit of the fast.
The physical effects of the fast are felt by Muslims as a reminder of those who suffer throughout the year; the poor, the homeless, refugees - those who cannot meet their basic needs. It reminds Muslims not to be wasteful and feel empathy for those who face hunger on a daily basis.
We should feel gratitude for the bounties of Allah: clean water, sufficient food, the comfort of a home, the health of our family members. There are so many in the world who must survive without these basic needs, and Ramadan is a time for us to give thanks and reaffirm our commitment to helping those in need.
The 19th, 21st, and 23rd nights of Ramadan are called the 'Nights of Glory' (Laylatul Qadr). Muslims keep awake during these nights and offer special prayers. In particular, the 23rd night, which is accompanied by great blessings, and usually grants the supplications made to Allah (SWT).
Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities, and re-focus our attention on the worship of God and giving charity to mankind.
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