The Story of Ramzan

- April 22, 2022

By Krithika Nair

As one of the five fundamental practices of Islam, Muslims across the world observe a month of fasting, praying and service to society. Ramzan, or Ramadan, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which adult, able and healthy Muslims are expected to fast from sunrise to sundown and refrain from activities that are considered sinful. The month is observed for 29 or 30 days according to the Lunar calendar, so the date shifts by about 11 days every year. The beginning and end of the month are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon.

This practice is a celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s first revelation, where he was visited by the angel Jibril and was imparted knowledge that would go on to become the holy Quran. Hence, the month is considered holy, wherein the benefits of sawm (fasting) and salat (prayers) are heightened and people can build better relationships with each other and god. It is said that observing Ramzan gives people a chance to learn patience, compassion for the less fortunate and break bad habits.

During the month of Ramzan, Muslims wake up early to have Sehri, a meal before dawn, and end their fast at dusk with a meal called Iftar. People suffering from illnesses and women who are menstruating, breastfeeding or pregnant, are exempt from fasting. Apart from food and drink, people observing Ramzan refuse to partake in tobacco products and sexual activities.

As a service to their community, Muslims also give to charity (zakat), host iftar dinners for the poor and needy and conduct nightly prayers called Tarawih at the mosque. The practices and traditions related to Ramzan differ from place to place. Commonly, streets, mosques and houses are decorated with lights and the Quran is recited. Some Islamic nations even have laws forbidding public eating, the use of tobacco and the sale of alcohol.

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