What Is Ramadan? Learn About Muslims Holy Month
What Is Ramadan
Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islamic culture. Muslims observe the month of Ramadan, to mark that Allah, or God, gave the first chapters of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad in 610.During Ramadan, Muslims fast, abstain from pleasures and pray to become closer to God. It is also a time for families to gather and celebrate.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar based on the cycles of the moon. Observances begin the morning after the crescent moon is visibly sighted, marking the beginning of the new month.
Traditionally, people searched for the slight crescent using the naked eye, which has led to the declaration of different starting times for Ramadan, due to weather or geography. In order to have a more consistent start time for Muslims around the world, however, astronomical calculations are now sometimes used.
Using science to mark the beginning of the month is controversial, however, and in many parts of the world, Ramadan still does not begin until religious leaders announce that they have personally seen the crescent moon, according to Holidays.
The Fourth Pillar of Islam
Fasting during Ramadan is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam. These pillars, or duties, form the basis of how Muslims practice their religion. According to Islam Guide, the Pillars of Islam are:
Shahada: faith in the Islam religion,
Salat: pray five times per day facing the direction of Mecca,
Zakat: give support to the needy,
Sawm: fast during Ramadan, and
Hajj: make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during one’s lifetime.
Calendar Of Islamic Month
This method of calculating months also means that the Islamic year ends up being 10 or 11 days shorter than a Western calendar year. In contrast to the Gregorian solar calendar followed by the West, with its 12 months of 365 days per year, Islam’s lunar calendar has 12 months of only 354 or 355 days per year. This means that its months are not locked in fixed synch with the seasons of the year, but instead fall 10 or 11 days earlier each year than they did in the previous year; as this creeping drift gradually accumulates year after year, Islamic calendar months slowly cycle their way back through each season, as the calendar years pile up.
Rules Of Ramadan
In addition to fasting, Ramadan is also a month of increased worship and prayer, reading and recitation of the Quran, religious devotion and spiritual reflection, self-examination and charity to the poor. It is said that the spiritual rewards reaped for such intensive extra efforts during Ramadan are greatly multiplied.
The daily fast is broken at sunset with an evening meal known as iftar. Often a community meal, iftar is frequently a chance for social gathering and religious fellowship throughout Ramadan.