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Ramadan – The Month Of Fasting

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The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ‘ramida’ or ‘ar-ramad’, which means scorching heat or dryness. There may be two interpretations to this name. One is that Ramadan signifies the burning desire for food and water since it is the month of fasting. The other interpretation is that fasting with a pure intention burns away the earlier sins. It is believed that fasting during Ramadan is thirty times more potent than during any other time of the year.

Ramadan is replete in customs and traditions. A follower of Islam is expected to follow strictly the holy customs and observe Ramadan with a pure heart. Ramadan is the holiest of the four holy months in the Islamic lunar calendar. Once the sighting of the new moon is authenticated from a reliable source, several customs and stringent practices begin as part of the deep rooted Ramadan tradition. At the commencement of Ramadan, Muslims wish each other saying, “Ramadan Mubarak” which means “Blessed Ramadan.”

Ramadan – Do’s and Don’ts

Ramadan is a month of fasting. However it is most often misinterpreted as merely a period of abstaining from food. The significance of Ramadan fasting in fact encompasses a much wider array of activities. It signifies abstaining from –

i) Food

ii) Drink

iii) Sex

iv) Bad habits (such as smoking, gossiping, wasting time, too much useless television, complaining, etc.)

During the Ramadan month followers of Islam are expected to spend their time doing the following activities –

i) Reading/reciting the Qur’an (at least one Juz or section per day)

ii) Salat – there are extra night prayers, and one may find this a good time to practice more sunnah prayers as well

iii) Dhikr – Remembrance of Allah and repetition of His Attributes

iv) Du’a – Actively thanking Allah for all of our blessings, and going to Him only for our needs

v) Other spiritual reading or studying

vi) Spending quality time with our families and Muslim friends

vii) Sharing with others

viii) Giving more charity

Ramadan Prayers

During Ramadan a Muslim is expected to devote the major part of the day to prayers and the reading the teachings of Quran. During the entire moth of Ramadan, Muslims are recommended to read the entire Quran. For the convenience of reading the Quran within the thirty days of Ramadan, the 114 chapters of it have been divided in to thirty equal parts. The special evening prayers where long portions of the Quran are recited are known as Taraweeh. Its an Arabic word meaning rest or relaxation. Since these prayers are quite long, after every for rakaats the devotes momentarily relax before resuming their prayers. Hence the name.

Another important prayer is the Takbeer which is usually recited after the completion of any important task, for instance it is recited on the completion of the fast of Ramadan. Takbeer is an indication that the festivities of Eid-Ul-Fitr has begun.

Ramadan Food

Ramadan being the month of fasting, no food is taken from sunrise to sunset. Meals are taken before sunrise and after sunset. These meals are known as Suhur – the meal before sunrise and Iftar – the meal after sunset. Friends and family gather together during Suhur and Iftar to enjoy meals together. A large variety of food ia taken. Muslims in different parts of the world have their own preferred dishes for Suhur and Iftar, however the spirit of Ramadan remains the same throughout.

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