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Ramadan- the Month of Fasting

Ramadan, also known as Ramazan, is an important annual festival for all Muslims globally, which lasts for 29 or 30 days. It is a religious period when Muslims devote their time in prayer (Salat), donating to charity (Zakat), reciting the holy Qur’an and more importantly, fasting (Sawm). Fasting is considered one of the five pillars in Islam, which includes abandoning food and water from dawn until sunset. Muslims are also encouraged to refrain from physical and mental sinful acts that will obstruct the rewards they gain from fasting. Because of the physical and mental strain experienced during this month, the ill, those who are travelling and small children are exempt from fasting.

During Ramadan, Muslims wake up early to have their suhoor (pre-dawn meal), before fasting for the whole day. According to the traditional Islamic views, every day the fast is broken by consuming dates. This tradition is believed to be dated back to the Prophet Muhammad who suggested breaking the Ramadan fast with dates or water. The act of breaking the fast is called Iftaar. Those who offer Iftaar to those fasting are rewarded, which is why Mosques will host large iftaars for those who are less well off.

The month of Ramadan holds great importance for many reasons. First and foremost, in the Hadith, Prophet Muhammad has said that those who fast during Ramadan are forgiven for their previous sins. Fasting in itself has many benefits such as increasing self-restraint and the ability to refrain from worldly desires and attachments. It also makes one empathise with those who are less fortunate and cannot offer even one meal a day, with this, it makes one feel grateful for things like food, water, clothes and the connection and support of family and friends.

'So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.'

[Quran 2:185]

Another importance of Ramadan is that during this month the Prophet Muhammad revealed the Quran via the angel Gabriel in order to guide and support the people. This is why Muslims spend their time during the day reading the Quran and share the teachings to others in order to attain Taqwa (actions that please Allah).

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins.” ‘ [Sunan an-Nasa’i Book-22 Hadith-116]

The day of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the commencement of the next lunar month. In literal terms it means ‘the Festival of Fast-Breaking’. The end of Ramadan occurs at the sight of another crescent moon. The celebration of Eid lasts for three full days filled with food and the accompaniment of family and friends, between whom gifts are exchanged.

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