Ramadan is the holiest month in Islam which Muslims fast for 30 days and nights. Fasting or 'Sawm' as it is pronounced in Arabic, is the third pillar of Islam and is the duty of all Muslims who are of age and in good health to perform this act.
In the Qur'an it says:
"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (The pious)".
- Qur'an chapter 2:183
The messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
"The gates of Hell are closed, the gates of Paradise are opened, and the devils are in chains. An angel calls out: 'O you who intend to do good deeds, have glad tidings. O you who intend to do evil, refrain, until Ramadan is completed."
Ramadan is the month in which Allah had revealed the last and final testament to mankind, The Qur'an to his last and final messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is rewarded immensely as Muslims remind themselves of the revelation when the Qur'an was sent down to them from heaven. During Ramadan Muslims pray each night for 30 days, reciting different chapters each day until the end of Ramadan when the Qur'an is completed. This is the Taraweeh prayer which is prayed after reading the evening prayer of 'Esha' and concluded with the last prayer of the night named Witr. Whoever performs the Taraweeh prayer with the remembrance of Allah his past sins will be forgiven.
It is stated in the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in which Allah has said:
"Every deed of a man will receive 10 to 700 times reward except fasting, for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like)..."
Performing one good deed will attain you 10 - 700 rewards, but the rewards for the act of fasting has no cap or limit, it is for Allah to decide how much he wants to give and multiply the rewards by.
- Ramadan gives Muslims a chance to reflect on their behaviour and attitude towards others around them.
- Ramadan is a stepping stone; it helps people to continue their good deeds even after Ramadan is over.
- Ramadan purifies the body and soul to resist all bad cravings and temptations and to receive the showers and blessings from Allah.
Fasting is observed from dawn till dusk, during this time Muslim's should devote their time to Allah by reading the Qur'an, by softening their hearts to forgive one another and to extend their hand in the way of charity.
Some of the many reasons why Muslims fast during Ramadan are as follows:
- To give thanks to Allah in what he has provided; such as food, water and clothes etc. Giving up material things in the month of Ramadan allows one to appreciate how lucky and fortunate they are where others aren't.
- Controlling one self, refraining from any act of bad or evil such as fighting, swearing, backbiting and lying etc. If a Muslim can refrain from indulging in pleasured affairs such as eating, drinking and sexual intercourse, then he is more likely to give up what Allah has forbidden.
- To remember the needy and to give charity. To appreciate the basic of necessities we have such as water and not to take things for granted, there are people in the world who are not so fortunate.
It is recommended for Muslims to delay their Suhoor before dawn and then pray their Fajr (Morning Prayer) which is performed before sunrise. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that the gap between the predawn meal and the call to the Fajr prayer should be the time it takes for one to recite 50 verses from the Qur'an.
Fasting begins with the predawn meal of Suhoor, the following Du'a (prayer) is recited:
"I intend to keep the fast for tomorrow in the month of Ramadan"
Suhoor is the most important breakfast meal of the day, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"How excellent are dates as the believer's Suhoor".
Eating dates is recommended for Suhoor, equally eating healthy is also important, it is up to the individual to eat what they want. If one cannot find food to eat, then water should suffice as a substitute to the Suhoor.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) broke his fast with dates and with Milk. This is the tradition and example set by the Prophet which Muslim's should follow as example when breaking their fast, at the same time they should remember Allah by reciting the following Du'a (prayer).
"The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is certain, Allah wills."
Ramadan is concluded with the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr which marks the end of the holy month and the beginning of the new Islamic month of
The Author Mahmood Khan is from Bradford and a student at Huddersfield University