Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, reflection, charity, Taqwa and unity. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to fast from dusk until dawn except those that are ill, pregnant, diabetic, breastfeeding or traveling.
Ramadan is the most important month in Islam as it is the month in which the first verses of the Holy Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The month lasts twenty-nine to thirty days from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.
In the Quran, Allah talks about the importance of Ramadan in the following verse: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness” (Quran, 2:183)
During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink between fajr and maghrib prayers (at dawn and sunset). The predawn meal is referred to as “Sahur” and the nightly feast that breaks the fast is called “iftar”. But Ramadan is not only about abstaining from food, it is also a religious time. It is a time when Muslims devote themselves to Allah’s worship; salat (prayers), recitation of the Holy Quran, and the performance of charitable deeds as they strive for purity and taqwa (performing of actions which pleases Allah and abstaining from those actions that displeases Him).
When the month of Ramadan starts, Muslims believe that the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed as Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said in one of his hadiths: “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” (Bukhari).
When someone fasts in the month of Ramadan with sincere faith, Muslims believe that s/he will be forgiven by Allah Almighty as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in hadith: “Whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, and then all his past sins will be forgiven” (Bukhari).
In the last 10 days of Ramadan, Muslims observe I’tikaaf (residing in the mosque for worship). It enables Muslims engage in proper worship, prayers and submission to Allah. Narrated `Aisha: Allah’s Messenger (SAW) used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan.” (Bukhari)
There are some other significances of this Holy month such as The Night of Decree (Laylat al- Qadr). This night is known to be better than a thousand months and Muslims are encouraged to pray and give more on this holy night. It is also recommended to give Zakat (charity) in the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a time which bring unity among the Muslim ummah, spiritual advancement due to its association and close affinity with the revelation of the Holy Quran and its end is marked with the Islamic festival Eid-ul-Fitr which is celebrated by congregational prayers after a sermon.
May God Almighty enable Muslims to benefit spiritually during the month of Ramadan. Ameen!