“When Ramadan arrives, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and devils are put in chains.” [Bukhari]
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims around the world. It is the month where the Quran was revealed upon the prophet (PBUH), hence, fasting the holy month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. It was made obligatory upon every mature Muslim, male and female, on the second year of Hijrah.
Muslims across the globe celebrate Ramadan by fasting, reciting Quran, giving donations and purifying themselves from all sins by seeking forgiveness and mercy from Allah. The reward increase on this holy month, and therefore, Muslims increase their good deeds.
Why do Muslims fast on the month of Ramadan? The purpose behind fasting is to remember the poor and needy, as there are people who have nothing to eat throughout the year. Fasting nurtures patience and grows self-control; not only this, but it also teaches perseverance and tolerance.
Apart from not eating or drinking from dawn to sunset, Muslims also should refrain from negative emotions like anger and sinful behaviours like lying and cursing. Because the act of fasting cleanses our bodies, souls, hearts and minds.
How do we fast? Simple, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and engaging in intimate relationship from dawn till sunset. Before Fajr azan (call to prayer) they eat a pre-fasting meal known as suhur. The meal should be healthy and accompanied with plenty of water so they are ready and hydrated for the day. At sunset, Muslim families, friends and neighbours gather to break their fast, normally with dates and water (following the prophetic tradition) and then eat whatever is prepared for that meal which is known as iftar.
Are there people who are exempted from fasting? Yes. People who are travelling are exempted from fasting during their travel. Elderly people, pregnant women, people who are chronically ill, menstruating or breast feeding women and finally children who have not reach the age of puberty.
What breaks the fast?
• Intentional consumption of food, drink, medicine, or smoking.
• Intimate relationship.
• Injection which has some nutritional value.
• Menstruation or post-natal birth bleeding.
What are the good deeds I should do during the month of Ramadan?
1-Muslims are encouraged to read Quran, as mentioned above, the holy Quran was revealed upon the prophet (PBUH) on the month of Ramadan.
2-Muslims around the world gather in mosques to witness an evening prayer known as Tarawih which is held after Isha prayer and that is one form of completing the Quran on the month of Ramadan.
3-Muslims also give a lot of charity during the entire month as it is a noble act and a deed with great reward. Charity is given in different ways; some feed the fasting by cooking and giving away food. Others donate to charities and many would give their zakat on the month of Ramadan.
4-Itikaaf, is another form of worship. Many people isolate themselves at mosques or at home and dedicate their time worshipping Allah. People normally perform it on the last ten days of Ramadan.
What is ‘Laylatul-Qadr’? It is also called the ‘Night of Power’ or the ‘Night of Decree’. It is one of the most blessed nights of the year as the angels descend to witness the Muslims during that day worshipping Allah and fasting for Him alone. It is one of the last ten odd nights in the month of Ramadan and is full of blessings. People try hard not to miss Laylatul-Qadar and do their best be accepted and forgiven on that day.
After a month of worshipping and fasting, Muslims celebrate Eidul-Fitr to thank Allah for allowing them to be among those who witnessed and completed another Ramadan.
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