Muslims all over the world wait the whole yeareagerly for the arrival of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, known as Ramadan Kareem. This is the holy month in which Muslims of all the continents unite together spiritually to observe a month of fasting.
For those people who are unfamiliar about the purpose of this blessed month, Ramadan is the month which is much beyond the concept of abstaining from food and drink.
Fasting is the source of purification of the mind, soul and heart. The observing of fasts from dawn to dusk has been made obligatory for all Muslims, since fasting is the fourth pillar among the five pillars of Islam.
Significance of Ramadan Kareem
Ramadan is the month which is full of divine blessings, forgiveness, compassion, patience and happiness.Allah Almighty restrains shaitan and shuts down all the gateways to hell.
The month of Ramadan holds its importance among all the other months due to many reasons.
We can notice the importance of Ramadan by analyzing the fact that the Holy Quran was sent down in the month of Ramadan
Allah states in the Quran:
“Ramadan is the (month) in which the Quran was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgment (so that mankind will distinguish from right and wrong).” [2:183]
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said,
“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)
Who Has To Fast?
Muslims who have reached their adult age, start fasting as it is a part of their religion. They remain like this from dawn to dusk, for the sole sake of Allah. These fasts are also called “Rozay” in Urdu. They are obligatory for all Muslims who have reached puberty, except small children, travellers, someone who is sick (depends on the nature of sickness), and women who are pregnant or are breast feeding. In all these conditions, the missing fasts can be compensated anytime during the year. If a person cannot keep compensation fasts later he or she is obliged to feed a needy person (or give an equivalent amount of money for one day’s meals) for each fast he has missed.
How Do Muslims Fast In Ramadan?
The teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ tell us each and every single way to observe fast and attain a pure soul in the blessed month of Ramadhan.
The Suhoor Meal:
The suhoor or more commonly called the sehri is the meal that Muslims consume before they start their fast. This is eaten just before fajar prayer, or dawn.
It is advised not to skip suhoor however appealing your sleep may be, as it’s the most important meal providing strength for the whole day. Additionally, eating suhoor is also sunnah.
Dua (Prayer) said at the Beginning of one’s fast:
I intend to keep the fast for tomorrow in the month of Ramadan
The Iftar Meal:
Just like the suhoor is the morning meal for Muslims during fast, iftar is the evening meal, with which the Muslims break their fast. The time for iftaar is 15 or 20 minutes after sunset. People end their fast with a couple of dates and a sip of water, just like the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did 1400 years ago.
In Pakistan, famous iftar items are cholay, dahibaray, fruit chat,samosay and pakoray.
The following Duais recited at the time of breaking one’s fast:
O Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You and I put my trust in You and I break my fast with Your sustenance.
During Ramadan, special evening prayer after the Isha prayers is conducted during which long portions of the Qur’an are recited. These special prayers are known as taraweeh.
Muslims after opening their fast rest a bit after iftar and then head towards mosque and offer theirIsha and taraweeh prayers. These special prayers can be 20 rakats or 8 rakats.
The Actual Spirit Of Fasting:
The month of Ramadan is all about fasting, butwe should keep in mind that to fast is not about just keeping your stomach empty from morning till evening. Essentially fasting is all about patience and endurance. Muslims keep their fast not to get their bodies slim or fit but to realize how poor and destituteother people and children feel when they have no food to eat.
For such deprived people, any sort of food and refreshment is a dream they don’t even have clean and pure water to drink. They should be helped with zakat, since charity is a most commendable act during Ramadan.
Also, Ramadan and fasting reminds us that we don’t have just food to boycott; we must restrain other body parts from doing bad deeds also. For example, the tongue must refrain from ill speech, lies and backbiting, the eyes but keep away from wicked things and the ears must avoid listening to things which are against morals. The fast is about restricting the whole body.
“He who does not give up uttering falsehood and acting according to it, God has no need of his giving up his food and drink.”
The Three Stages Of Ramadan:
This blessed month is divided into three main parts known as Ashras. The word Ashra is an Arabic word, and it means ten.They are Rehmat, Maghfirat and Getting Rid of Jahannum (Hell).
The first ten days reflect the mercy of Almighty Allah
The middle ten days represent forgiveness of Almighty Allah
The last ten days represent safety from the fire of Hell.
Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Decree/Power)
The last ten days of Ramadhan fall in the third Ashra and are very superior and important.
The last days also include the most important night of the year; this is known as Laylat al-Qadr. This precious night falls during the last ten days, on this night, Muslims are forgiven for the sins and deeds of the past year.
Allah himself has stated the importance of this night with a separate surah named “Surah Qadar”
“We revealed this Quran on the grand night. And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is? The grand night is better than a thousand months. The angels and Gabriel descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair, Peace! It is till the break of the morning.”
It is widely believed that this grand night falls on the 27th night of the month of Ramadan, but it’s not absolutely certain, most scholars and sayings believe that it falls on the last ten odd nights of this holy month. That means from the 21st till the 29th.
HazratIbn Abbas states that Allah’s Messenger said:
“Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramazan on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of the Ramazan.”
To truly get benefits from these last precious days, Muslims also observe a special form of worship known as: Itikaf
This is an Islamic practice which consists of a period of time of staying in a mosque for a certain number of days, in order to solely worship and please Almighty Allah, the Creator of this universe.
It is Sunnah to observe I’tikaaf (retreat from the worldly chores for the purpose of worship) in Ramadan
Eating By Mistake During A Fast:
If we ever end up eating or drinking by error during a fast, then our fast will not be broken.
HazratAbu Huraira related that Rasulullahﷺ said:
If anyone forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks he should complete his Siyam (fast), for it is Allah who has fed him and given him drink (Bukhari, Muslim).
After 30 days, this month of huge opportunities ends on the sight of the moon, which is the sign of the end of Ramadan and the first day of the month of Shawwal, upon which Muslims merrily celebrate their occasion of Eid-Ul-Fitr.
Ramzan is viewed as a month of spiritual training after which the soldiers of Islam leave with a much developed sense of self control and timing. The awaited Ramadan Kareem for the year 2016is just around the corner, Team BandBajaBarat wishes all Muslims a very happy and fulfilling Ramadan.