1 – What is Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims around the world fast from dawn until sunset. It is a time of spiritual reflection, increased prayer and charitable acts. Muslims believe the doors of paradise are opened and the doors of hellfire are closed during this month as an additional mercy from God, which motivates Muslims to go the extra mile in this month in doing good deeds.
2 – What are the rules of fasting during Ramadan?
Fasting during Ramadan involves abstaining from food, drink, and other physical needs from dawn until sunset. Muslims are also expected to refrain from smoking and engaging in sexual activity during the daylight hours. Those who are unable to fast, such as pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, or people with certain incurable medical conditions, are exempt but instead are required to pay expiation in the form of feeding a needy person for each day that they miss.
3 – Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which are the basic tenets of the faith. Muslims believe it is an obligation to fast this month as commanded to them by God directly in the Qur’an. Failing to fast without an excuse is considered sinful. It is also believed that fasting helps Muslims to develop self-discipline and empathy for those who are less fortunate, and it is also a way to purify the soul and draw closer to God by abiding to His command.
4 – When does Ramadan begin and end?
Ramadan begins with the sighting of the crescent moon, which marks the start of the new lunar month. The exact dates vary from year to year and depend on the sighting of the moon. Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days, depending on the lunar calendar, and ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
5 – What are some traditions associated with Ramadan?
In addition to fasting, Muslims often spend more time in prayer and reflection during Ramadan. They also gather for iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast, and often participate in charitable acts and community service. In some countries, it is traditional to eat certain foods during Ramadan, such as dates and sweet pastries, and to decorate homes and public spaces with festive lights and decorations.
6 – Do Muslim children and teenagers fast during Ramadan?
It is not mandatory for those below the age of puberty to fast during Ramadan, but they may choose to participate in partial fasting, such as skipping meals or fasting for a few hours at a time. Muslim parents often encourage their children to fast but do not require them to abide by it for the full day until they reach the age of puberty.
7 – Are there any exceptions to the fasting rules during Ramadan?
Muslims who are traveling, menstruating, pregnant, or experiencing certain curable health conditions may be exempt from fasting during Ramadan. However, they are expected to make up the missed days of fasting at a later time.
For those suffering from incurable health conditions which prohibit them from fasting, they are also exempt but not required to make up their fasts, instead they must pay a fidyah, a charitable donation to feed a needy person for each day missed.
8 – What is Laylat al-Qadr and why is it important during Ramadan?
Laylat al-Qadr, also known as the Night of Power, is considered one of the holiest nights of the year for Muslims. It is believed to be the night when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims spend the night in prayer and contemplation, seeking God’s blessings and forgiveness. It is believed that the rewards of worship during this single night are greater than that of a thousand months, and as such, many Muslims spend the last 10 nights of Ramadan in prayer and devotion, hoping to catch this blessed night. The exact night is disputed among Muslim scholars. What is generally agreed upon is that it is one of the odd nights during the last 10 nights. Some hold the opinion that it is the 23rd, others hold that it is the 25th, many hold that it is the 27th, and there are even those who hold the opinion that it shifts annually to a different odd night in the last 10 nights.
9 – How do Muslims break their fast during Ramadan?
Muslims typically break their fast at sunset with dates and water, as this was the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. They then proceed to have a full meal, known as iftar, which often includes a variety of traditional dishes. It is also common for Muslims to gather to break the fast with family, friends, and even as a community at their local mosques.
10 – What is the significance of Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr is the festival that marks the end of Ramadan. It is a time of prayer, celebration, feasting, and giving thanks to God for the blessings received during the month of fasting. Muslims typically gather with family and friends in new clothes to first offer the Eid prayer in their local mosques, then they visit the homes of their family and friends for feasts, celebrations, gifts, and some also participate in charitable activities. It is common to greet each other with ‘May God accept from you and us‘ when meeting each other the first time on the day of Eid. This meaning behind this prayer is that may God accept all of the good deeds and efforts you put into the month to become a better person.
11 – Do non-Muslims participate in Ramadan?
Non-Muslims are welcome to participate in Ramadan by joining in community events or fasting alongside their Muslim friends and colleagues. However, it is important to respect the religious significance of the month and not to engage in activities that are disrespectful or offensive to Muslims.
12 – What is the significance of the pre-dawn meal, or suhoor, during Ramadan?
The pre-dawn meal is an important part of the Ramadan fast, as it provides sustenance for the long day ahead. Muslims wake up before dawn to eat a meal that is high in protein and carbohydrates, which helps to sustain them throughout the day.
13 – How do Muslims maintain their energy levels during the fast?
In addition to eating a nutritious pre-dawn meal, Muslims may also take naps during the day, avoid strenuous physical activity, and drink plenty of water and other fluids during non-fasting hours. Many also find strength in prayer and spiritual reflection.
14 – What are some common greetings used during Ramadan?
Muslims often greet each other during Ramadan with “Ramadan Mubarak,” which means “Blessed Ramadan,” or “Ramadan Kareem,” which means “Generous Ramadan.” These greetings are a way to express well-wishes and show solidarity with the global Muslim community.
15 – What is Taraweeh and when is it performed during Ramadan?
Taraweeh is a special evening prayer that is performed during Ramadan. It is a voluntary prayer, and Muslims typically perform it after the last prayer of the day, known as Isha. Taraweeh prayers are often performed in congregation in mosques.
16 – How does Ramadan differ for Muslims living in countries with different daylight hours?
Muslims living in countries with longer or shorter daylight hours adjust their fasting times accordingly. Islamic scholars have provided guidelines for determining the start and end of fasting times based on the time of sunrise and sunset in each location. There are also specific scholarly guidelines for those locations where night or daylight are longer than 24 hours, such as, adapting their times according to the nearest city with normal daylight hours.
17 – What is the role of community and social gatherings during Ramadan?
Community and social gatherings play an important role during Ramadan. Muslims often gather with family, friends, and neighbors to break their fast together at sunset, known as iftar. This fosters a sense of community and provides an opportunity to share in the blessings and rewards of Ramadan.
18 – How do Muslims seek forgiveness during Ramadan?
Muslims seek forgiveness during Ramadan by engaging in acts of repentance and seeking God’s forgiveness. They may also participate in communal prayers and recitation of the Quran, engage in charitable acts, and strive to mend relationships with others. Seeking forgiveness is an important aspect of Ramadan as it allows Muslims to renew their commitment to God and their faith.
19 – How can non-Muslims show respect for Ramadan?
Non-Muslims can show respect for Ramadan by being mindful of the fasting hours and refraining from eating, drinking, or smoking in front of a fasting Muslim during daylight hours. It is also considered respectful to greet Muslims with the traditional greeting of “Ramadan Kareem” or “Ramadan Mubarak.”
20 – How does fasting for Muslims differ from other religions?
Fasting practices differ across various faiths, but the Muslim fasting during Ramadan has some unique features. Here are a few ways in which fasting for Muslims differs from other faiths:
- Intention: Muslims are required to have the intention to fast for the sake of God and for the purpose of fulfilling an Islamic obligation. This intention is made before the start of each day’s fast during Ramadan.
- Duration: Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which is a period of approximately 12 to 16 hours depending on the location and time of year. This is longer than some other faiths’ fasting periods.
- Abstinence from food, drink, and other activities: Muslims who are fasting during Ramadan abstain not only from all foods and drinks, but also from sexual activity, smoking, and other activities that are considered to break the fast. This level of abstinence is unique to the Muslim fast during Ramadan.
- Spiritual purpose: While fasting in other faiths may have health or purification purposes, the Muslim fast during Ramadan is primarily a spiritual act of worship. It is meant to strengthen one’s faith, self-discipline, and connection to God.
I am a Pakistani-American Muslim blogger. I hold a B.S. in Information Technology and a B.A. in Islamic Studies. I am also a follower and a student of the Hanbali school of Islamic law. Read more