The ninth month of the Islamic Calendar, a month of strict spiritual discipline to commemorate the first revelation of the Holy Quran to Mohammed, the month during which severe norms for fasting is enforced as a pathway for reaching the ultimate eternity is the month of Ramadan, Romanized as Ramzan. The word Ramadan in Arabic means extreme dryness and intolerable heat. In the Gregorian calendar, this falls between the months of July and August.
The festival is so popular across the world because of the prevailing practices among the Islamic People. Whenever you hear the word Ramadan, you are immediately reminded of the fasting the Muslims adhere to strictly. As for as the Islamic beliefs are concerned, the fasting is an act of spiritual purification of the mind and the body.
The first day of the Ramadan is typically the next day to the astronomical new moon. The entire period lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the appearance of the full moon and it varies with different parts of the world. The respective mosques announce the beginning and end of the Ramadan month. Children, pregnant ladies, people with chronic illnesses are exempted from fasting. Those suffering from brief illnesses during the month of Ramadan should compensate later.
People during this period fast from the time of sun rise till sun set. They can take their meal before dawn and after sunset. The first one is called Suhur and the meal after sunset is called Iftar. After taking Suhur, the first prayer of the day starts. The iftar is actually breaking the fast and will be arranged in a very grand manner. In recent times, buffet systems are arranged in mosques and nearby places for Iftar. Extensive prayer sessions will be conducted during night times and everyday 1 / 30th portion of the Quran will be recited so as to complete it by the end of 30 days.
“Night of Power” falls during the last five days of the Ramadan. It is very significant and sacred because only on that day, it is believed that the Quran was revealed to Mohammed. On that day, special prayers will be conducted throughout the night and the devotees will offer camels and goats which will be used for the suhur.
Ramadan is a month for charity. Muslims have to give a portion of their income to less fortunate people around them. They should stay away from the sinful activities, intimacy with their spouses, smoking, drinking during the fasting period. Some of the historians record that this fasting procedure is derived from the concept of lent days observed in Christianity.
The fasting ends on the 30th day of the Ramadan month and it is officially declared by the mosques of the respective regions. The beginning of the next month is celebrated as Eid, allowing every Muslim to resume their normal livelihood.
Though some of the medical professionals warn that fasting continuously for 30 days will affect the major organs of the body, fasting is a ritual strictly adhered to. Failing to fast is indeed a crime in many of the Islamic countries and there have been precedence of punishments too.
The world’s largest Islamic nation, Indonesia records a maximum of 7 million people travelling to Mecca during Ramadan. Other countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, UAE make elaborate arrangements for this festival.
Putting in a nutshell, Ramadan is a month of revelation of honesty, sincerity, self discipline and spirituality. This festival leads every Muslim to a happy Judgement Day !