Niuse

laughter

Posted on: August 12, 2008

Fasting and YogaIn nature cure, one of the very important tools for health and disease cure is fasting.
Many people are learning the trick of curing their colds, headaches, nervous spells and other acute troubles by missing a few meals or taking a short fast. It is the simplest and the most efficient way of relieving the overloaded and “food-poisoned” system. You would be surprised to know how little food is actually required to keep the individual healthy.
One of the commonest complaints of the sick is that they have “lost their appetite”. In fact, the greatest blessing to them would be to lose their appetite long enough to find their hunger. Loss of appetite is an indication that the system is overcharged with toxins and nature is trying to correct this by giving a chance to the waste accumulation in the organs to escape from the system.
Fasting as a remedy is fully in harmony with the “nature-cure” philosophy of the cause of disease. If the disease is created by an abnormal accumulation of toxins in the system, it stands to reason that fasting will help in their elimination from the system. The membranous linings of the stomach and intestine which act as a “sponge” to absorb food materials are now “squeezed” to throw out the waste matter from the system.

Exercises While Fasting

The idea prevails that during a prolonged fast one should have complete rest. This however, is a serious mistake. There is no reason why one should not take the usual amount of or accomplish the accustomed daily tasks, provided, these do not strain the physical and mental energy to the point of exhaustion.

Source: http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/fasting.html

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How Tos of Fasting

The Obligation

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an act of obedience and submission to Allah’s commands through the highest degree of commitment, sincerity and faithfulness to seek Allah’s mercy, to atone for sins, errors, and mistakes and to avoid condemnation to Hell.

It is done out of deep love for God, with a genuine virtue of devotion, honest dedication and closeness to Allah, for Fasting is for Allah and Him alone.

The fasting during Ramadan is obligatory on every adult, sane, and able Muslim.

Denial of the obligatory nature of fasting in the month of Ramadan amounts to disbelief.

One who avoids fasting without genuine reasons is a sinner and transgressor according to Islamic Shariah (Law).

Time: When to fast

Fasting in Islam involves abstinence from three primal physical needs of human beings- food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn (approximately one and a half hours before sunrise) to sunset during the entire month of Ramadan.

Who is exempted from fasting

1. Children under the age of puberty and discretion;

2. The insane people who are unaccountable for their deeds. People of these two categories are exempted from the duty of fasting and no compensation or any other substitute is enjoined on them;

3. Men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fasting and bear its hardships. Such people are exempted from this duty, but they must offer at least one needy poor Muslim an average full meal or its value per person day.

4. Sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by fasting. They may postpone the fast, as long as they are sick, to a later date and makeup for it, a day for a day;

5. People expecting hardship. Such people may break the fast temporarily during their travel only and make up for it in later days, a day for a day. But it is better for them, the Quran says, to keep the fast if they can without causing extraordinary hardships;

6. Expectant women and women nursing their children may also break the fast, if its observance is likely to endanger their own health or that of their infants. But they must make up for the fast at a delayed time, a day for a day;

7. Women in periods of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days). They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make up for it, a day for day.

The How To’s of Fasting

Niyyah or Intention of Fast

To observe the fast, the intention of fasting is essential (Wajib). The intention should be made daily, preferably before dawn of each day of fasting (in Ramadan).

Provision is made if someone has forgotten to express his intention before dawn. In such a case one is allowed to express intention of fasting before noon to avoid the invalidation of the fast.

The wording of Niyyah may be as follows:

“I intend to observe fast for today.”

Suhoor

Suhoor is a light, predawn meal, recommended before actually fasting. It is a blessing and hence recommended but not essential.

Any consumption of food or drink should cease at least five to ten minutes before the onset of dawn.

Iftar

Iftar is an Arabic term meaning breaking the fast immediately after the sunset. Iftar is a light snack consisting of dates or desserts, along with liquids, such as water, juice or milk.

This is eaten after making the following Dua (supplication) for breaking the fast:

“Oh Allah!  I fasted for your sake and I am breaking my fast from the sustenance You blessed me with, accept it from me.”

What breaks the fast

  1. Intentional consumption of food, drink, medicine, or smoking during the fasting.
  2. Any injection which has some nutritional value.
  3. Beginning of menstruation or post natal birth bleeding (even in the last moment of sunset).

The conditions mentioned above invalidate fasting and require “Qada” (making up only the missed day or days). However, intentional intercourse during the hours of fasting invalidates fasting and not only requires “Qada” but also additional penalty (Kaffara-see the explanation of this below).

What does not break the fast

  1. Eating or drinking by mistake, unmindful of the fast.
  2. Unintentional vomiting.
  3. Swallowing things which are not possible to avoid, such as one’s own saliva, street dust, smoke, etc.
  4. Brushing the teeth.
  5. Bathing: if water is swallowed unintentionally, it does not invalidate the fast. However, while fasting gargling should be avoided.
  6. Injection or I/V (Intravenous) which is solely medicinal and not nutritional.
  7. In some special circumstances if the food or drink is just tasted and immediately removed out of the mouth without allowing it to enter into the throat.

Kaffara

During the fasting period, if one deliberately breaks his or her fast, s/he must free one slave, or fast for sixty continuous days, or feed sixty needy persons, or spend in charity an amount equal to feeding sixty persons.

If one chooses to fast sixty days and the continuity is interrupted for any reason, except menstruation, one has to start the sixty day cycle all over again.

Breaking of the fast under exceptional conditions

Muslims are permitted to break their fast of Ramadan when there is a danger to their health.

In this situation a Muslim should make up his/her fast later. The missed fast(s) can be made up at any other time of the year, either continuously or intermittently, except on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr and the day of Eid-ul-Adha

Tarawih

These are special Sunnah prayers in the month of Ramadan. They follow the Isha prayers.  A minimum of eight and a maximum of twenty Rakat are offered in pairs of two.

Lailat al-Qadr

Amongst the nights of Ramadan, there is one special night of Power (Qadr) which is highlighted in Surah al-Qadr (Surah 97 in the Quran).

It has the significance of being better than a thousand months (Quran 97:3).

This was the night when Quran was revealed to mankind. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) recommended Muslims search for this night of Power (Qadr) in the odd nights of the last ten nights in Ramadan.

Muslims spend the night in Ibadah (worship), asking forgiveness of their sins and reciting the Quran.

Source: http://www.soundvision.com/info/ramadan/howfast.asp

Zakat

Posted on: August 12, 2008

Allah (SWT) says in the Quran-e-Majid that one who gives “Zakat” and remembers Him will get salvation. Here, Zakat means “Fitra” and remembrance of God means the recitation of the following Takbir on the night and morning of Eid al-Fitr.

“Allaaho Akbar, Allaaho Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallaah wallaaho Akbar, Allaaho Akbar, Wa lillaahil hamd. Alhamdulillah alaa maa hadaanaa walahu Shukr alaa maa aulana.”

The meaning of the above is: “Allah is Great, Allah is Great there is no one worthy of prayer but Allah, and Allah is Great; Allah is Great, all praise be to Allah, it is He Who guides.”

Zakat al-Fitr is a small amount that Muslims are obliged to pay as charity at the end of Ramadan. Zakat al-Fitr is often referred to as Sadaqah al-Fitr (voluntary charity). The word Fitr means the same as Iftaar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as Futoor which means breakfast. Thus, Islamically, Zakat al-Fitr is the name given to charity which is distributed at the end of the fast of Ramadan.

Zakat al-FitrFitr is compulsory on those who can afford it, and it is a sin not to give it.

Hazrat Imam Jafar-e-Sadiq (A.S.) has said that fasts do not attain perfection without Fitr just as Namaz is not accepted without invoking the blessings of Allah on Mohammad (S.A.W.) and his Aaal (A.S.) in Tashahhud. Hazrat Imam Jafar-e-Sadiq (A.S.) used to instruct his accountant to take out Fitr for each individual including slaves and servants male and female of his household without exception, as, he feared that one whose Fitr was not taken out might die within that year.

Fitr is dependant on the major item of food consumed by a person during the year. These may be rice, wheat, barley, dates, etc. In weight Fitr should be three Kilograms per person. It is also permissible to pay cash to the value of three Kilograms food grains.

It is obligatory on the head of the family to give Fitr of all persons (including servants of both sexes of any cast or creed) that take food in his house.

If a guest Muslim or non-Muslim arrives at one’s house before the night of Eid al-Fitr and dines with his host, it is incumbent on the latter to give the former’s Fitr. If the guest arrives after sunset of the night of Eid al-Fitr. Fitr is not obligatory even if he dines with his host. Even when the guest arriving before sunset does not dine, Fitr is obligatory on the host. In this it is better if both the host and the guest give Fitr.

If one’s wife is at her parent’s on the night of Eid al-Fitr, her parents should take out her Fitr.

On the last day of the month of Ramadan, if a person arrranges a Majlis which finishes afer sunset (Magrib) and if, he offers Niyaz or food to his guests, he does not have to give Fitr for them.

Fitr should be given to deserving Momins who do not have enough income for the maintenance of their families for the whole year.

Fitr cannot be given to one’s dependants. But, it is better to give it to non-dependant deserving relatives. Next in order of preference are deserving neighbors and then any other deserving pious persons. Fitr from Syeds can be given to Syeds or non-Syeds. Fitr from non-Syeds cannot be given to Syeds.

If deserving persons are not really available, Fitr should be sent to places where such persons are found, or the amount should be sent to a Mujtahid who would do the needful in distributing the same.

It is not essential that the recipient of Fitr is an “Aadil” (just), but it is necessary to ensure that it is not given to anyone likely to use it in acts of sin, e.g. drinking liquor, gambling, etc.

Although it is permissible to send Fitr to any place it is preferable if it is distributed to a deserving person locally.

The time for giving Fitr is from the night of Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan Eid) up to the noon (Zohr) of Eid al-Fitr. If this is not possible for some reason the amount of Fitr should be set apart from his other monies and disbursed when deserving person is available or it may be sent to a Mujtahid for required distribution.

It is stated that Fitr ought to be given to pious persons and not those who indulge in sin.

Eid al-FitrIN RETROSPECT:

And now that the Holy Month of Glory (Ramadan) has departed and Eid is over, let us look back to the lessons it has taught us, and let us pray to God that the things we observed the recitation of the Holy Quran, the saying of Prayers (Namaz) regularly, the charity which we did, the poor that we fed, the good manners and self-restraint that we observed, should be with us in our everyday lives and these are the very ACTS that take us nearer to Allah.

And Allah has said, “Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.” (2:152)

“If ye are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.” (14:7)

And to those who have been indifferent and have wished that there was no such thing as this month of Ramadan and who on sighting the New Moon had a dejected face, should remember this Ayat of the Holy Quran.

“Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer): but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell – in humiliation!” (40:60)

But can ye not see, O men, the mighty workers of God in the heavens and the earth? The dark-some splendor of the night with the stars, and the daylight splendor of the sun? How the earth with its spacious expanse and its mountains, yields moisture and pasture, and feeds and sustains men and cattle, through God’s Providence?

AH! Transgress not all bounds and earn not the fire of punishment, but fear God and His Judgment, and prepare for the Garden of Perpetual Bliss.

ZAKAT AL-FITR and ZAKAT (ZAKAH) are different: (Alms giving, Charity)

Over the centuries, it has become a practice among the Muslims to offer their Zakat (Zakah) in the month of Ramadan. This is generally done to increase one’s blessings. However, we should remember that Zakat (Zakah) becomes due, one year after a person’s wealth reaches the value of Nisab (minimum amount) for a type of item (Gold, Silver, Savings, etc) and according to most scholars, his wealth has to remain above that Nisab level throughout the course of the year. So it is impossible for the whole Ummah to have reached the obligation of paying Zakat (Zakah), at the onset of Ramadan. We should be clear in our minds that Zakat (Zakah) is not tied in with the month of Ramadan. An individual can bring forward his Zakat (Zakah) due date (notice: not push back), in order to take advantage of the multifold blessings of Ramadan. In fact, to make it easy on the recipients whose needs have to be met, one might chose Ramadan for the extra Sadaqa he gives out.

Finally, Zakat (Zakah) is not simply the calculation of your dues on your Gold and Silver ornaments. Its scope and implication is wide-ranging. As such, it requires us to be diligent and aware of various details relating to our context and various forms of wealth. At the minimum, a learned scholar should be consulted.

Source: http://www.ezsoftech.com/ramadan/ramadan06.asp

Itikaf

Posted on: August 12, 2008

Bismillah

Itikaf is a form of worship during RamadanItikaf is a form of worship. It is formed by staying in a Mosque for a certain time. It is Ehtiyat that one should stay with the intention to worship Allah by praying formal or informal prayers although prayer is not a condition therein.

The time for this form of worship could be anytime when one is allowed to fast. The best time is the month of Ramadan, especially, the last ten days.

Conditions:

1. Intention as in the rest of the worship acts. It is necessary that the intention be made at the beginning of Itikaf so that the rule, requiring the worship act to be completed with intention, be followed thoroughly from the beginning to the end. The decision made at the beginning of the night to start Itikaf from the beginning of the following day will be open to objection. However, if one decides to start it from the beginning of the night it is not an offense to do so.

One is not allowed to change one’s mind from one Itikaf to another of the same qualities or different.

2. Belief in Islam.

3. Freedom from mental illness.

4. Fasting; thus the Itikaf of one who cannot fast for some reason is not valid.

5. Duration; which is three continuous days at least. It could be more but not less than three days.

If it is started from the beginning of a day the two nights in between will be part of the duration. Less than three days is not considered Itikaf.

That it must take place in one of these Mosques:

  • The holy Mosque in Mecca,
  • The holy Mosque of the Prophet in Medina,
  • The holy Mosque of Kufa,
  • The holy Mosque of Basrah, and
  • The Mosque which is assigned for the Friday prayer in any town or city. It is Ehtiyat, however, to complete it in any of the first four Mosques.

The roof and basement of a Mosque is part of the same and it is valid to complete Etikaf in such places of a Mosque.

Permission of the people whose permission are required such as the master for the slave, husband and parents for the wife and children if this will be against the right of the husband or causes trouble to the parents.

6. Completing it in the Mosque where it was started. Thus, going out of the Mosque without an acceptable reason will invalidate the Itikaf, regardless, one knows the rule or is ignorant or has gone out because of forgetfulness, except in the case of an emergency or one being forced or it is because of some need such as using wash room or having Taharat.

One is allowed to come out of the Mosque during Itikaf to take part in the burial of a deceased or to visit an ailing one; Going out of the Mosque for a time long enough to cause the Itikaf to become as non-existing will be considered as invalidating the same, even if one has not done it out of one’s own choice.

If one needs to have Ghusl/bath during the Itikaf and it is possible for him to have it inside the Mosque, and is not allowed to go out unless the reason for Ghusl requires him not to stay inside the Mosque.

Etikaf is originally an optional worship act but it may become obligatory because of a vow etc.

Things to avoid during Itikaf:

1. Having sex and also according to Ehtiyat kissing or playing with one’s wife;

2. According to a necessary Ehtiyat causing a semen discharge,

3. And smelling perfumes for enjoyment; it is not an offense if one cannot enjoy the perfume because of some defect in his smelling ability.

4. Selling or buying in the form of a business deal, according to a necessary Ehtiyat; there is no offense to be occupied with allowable activities as sewing or writing etc., although it is a Mustahab Ehtiyat to avoid them too.

If one needs to buy something for food and there is no one to do the buying for him, it is not an offence for him to do it.

5. Expressing bitterness in talking about worldly or religious matters in order to prove one’s ability, not the truth which is one of the best worships.

The contracts of buying or selling during Itikaf invalidate Itikaf, but such contracts will be valid.

If Itikaf is invalidated because of having sex even, during the night, expiation will be due; if it is invalidated by other things, there will be no expiation, although it is a Mustahab Ehtiyat in this case too.

The expiation for invalidating an Itikaf is to set free a slave or if this is not possible, fast for two consecutive months or if this also is not possible, feed sixty poor people.

Source: http://www.ezsoftech.com/ramadan/ramadan52.asp

Laylat al-Qadr (Arabic: لیلة القدر) (also known as Shab-e-Qadr), basically the Night of Decree or Night of Measures, is the anniversary of two[citation needed] very important dates in Islam that occurred in the month of Ramadan. Shia Muslims believe that this night is when their fate in the following year is decided and hence pray for God all night long and pray for mercy and salvation. This practice is called Ehyaa (basically meaning “revival”).

Qur’an

(Qur’an 97, 1-5)

In the name of God, the Benevolent, the Merciful.
1 Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Predestination.
2 Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Power is!
3 The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
4 The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees.
5 (The night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn.

The verses above regard the Night as better than one thousand months. The whole month of Ramadan is a period of spiritual training wherein believers devote much of their time to fasting, praying, recitating the Qur’an, remembering God, and giving charity. However because of the revealed importance of this night, Muslims strive harder in the last ten days of Ramadan since the Laylat al-Qadr could be one of the odd-numbered days in these last ten (the first, third, fifth, or seventh). Normally, Muslims would perform an i’tikaf in the mosque (i.e they remain in the mosque for the last ten days at a strech) for prayers and recitation.

Sunnah

Muslims often pray extra prayers on this day, particularly the night prayer. They wake, pray, and hope Allah will give them anything they may desire for on this night. Mostly, they perform tilawat (reading the Qur’an).

Those who can afford to devote their time in the remembrance of God stay in the mosque for the final ten days of Ramadan. This worship is called itikaf (retreat). They observe fast during the day and occupy themselves with the remembrance of God, performing voluntary prayers and studying the Qur’an, day and night, apart from the obligatory prayers which they perform with the congregation. Food and other necessities of life are provided for them during their stay in the mosque, thus they may not leave the precincts of the mosque except for a genuine religious purpose. Devoting time to remember God, Muslims hope to receive divine favors and blessings connected with the blessed night.

Prophet Muhammad was very particular in these regards. It is related that when the last ten days of Ramadan began, he used to keep awake the whole night and was most diligent in worship.[citation needed]

Date

All Muslims believe that the incident occurred during the last third of the month of Ramadan but they differ as to the exact date. Sunnis generally consider it to be either the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, or 29th of the month; while Shi’as consider it to be either the 19th, 21st or 23rd of the month. Shi’as believe the 23rd to be the most important and 19th the least of the three.[citation needed] Conventionally, most Sunnis celebrate it throughout the night of the 27th (i.e. the night between the 26th and 27th). However, due to the uncertainty of the exact date, Muslims are recommended to observe all the nights as a matter of precaution.

Differences in lexicography

Although the literal translation of the word “Qadr” is “measure”, the day has been popularly referred to as Night of Power. The proper way to translate “Laylat al-Qadr” has led to some controversy, some Muslims claiming that “Night of Power” is a mistranslation in Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation that got popular.

The term “Night of Power” comes from The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (died 1953) who translated surat Al-Qadr verse one as:

We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:

Marmaduke Pickthall translates it as:

Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Predestination.

And Muhammad Asad writes:

Behold, from on high have We bestowed this [divine writ] on the Night of Destiny.

In the corresponding note he adds, “Laylatil-Qadr” can also be translated as “the Night of Almightiness” or “the Night of Majesty”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laylat_al-Qadr

Explaining Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar and the holiest of the four holy months. It begins with the sighting of the new moon after which all physically mature and healthy Muslims are obliged to abstain from all food, drink, gum chewing, any kind of tobacco use, and any kind of sexual contact between dawn and sunset. However, that is merely the physical component of the fast; the spiritual aspects of the fast include refraining from gossiping, lying, slandering and all traits of bad character. All obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided. Purity of thought and action is paramount. Ordained in the Quran, the fast is an exacting act of deeply personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of God-consciousness. The act of fasting redirects the hearts away from worldly activities, towards The Divine.

The month of Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends. The fasting is intended to help teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity. It also reminds them of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well. It is common to have one meal (known as the Suhoor), just before sunrise and another (known as the Iftar), directly after sunset. This meal will commonly consist of dates, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him. Because Ramadan is a time to spend with friends and family, the fast will often be broken by different Muslim families coming together to share in an evening meal.

Ramadan derives from the Arabic root: ramida or ar-ramad, meaning scorching heat or dryness. Since Muslims are commanded to fast during the month of Ramadan, it is believed that the month’s name may refer to the heat of thirst and hunger, or because fasting burns away one’s past sins. Muslims believe that God began revealing the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan (in the year 610 C.E.). The Qur’an commands: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint…Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting…” (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185). Fasting during Ramadan did not become an obligation for Muslims until 624 C.E., at which point it became the third of the Five Pillars of Islam. The others are faith (Shahadah); prayer (Salah); charitable giving (Zakah); and the pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj).

Another aspect of Ramadan is that it is believed that one of the last few odd-numbered nights of the month is the Laylat ul-Qadr, the “Night of Power” or “Night of Destiny.” It is the holiest night of the holiest month; it is believed to be the night on which God first began revealing the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Jibril (Gabriel). This is a time for especially fervent and devoted prayer, and the rewards and blessings associated with such are manifold. Muslims are told in the Qur’an that praying throughout this one night is better than a thousand months of prayer. No one knows exactly which night it is; it is one of God’s mysteries. Additionally, Muslims are urged to read the entire Qur’an during the month of Ramadan, and its 114 chapters have been divided into 30 equal parts for this purpose.

When the first crescent of the new moon has been officially sighted by a reliable source, the month of Ramadan is declared over, and the month of Shawwal begins. The end of Ramadan is marked by a three-day period known as Eid ul-Fitr, the “Festival of Fast-breaking.” It is a joyous time beginning with a special prayer, and accompanied by celebration, socializing, festive meals and sometimes very modest gift-giving, especially to children.

When Ramadan ends, Muslims give charity in a locally prescribed amount, calculated to feed one poor person in that region for one day. This is known as fitra, and is meant as another reminder of the suffering endured by many. Many Muslims also take this occasion to pay the annual alms which are due to the poor and needy, known as Zakah (2.5% of assets).

At the beginning of Ramadan, it is appropriate to wish Muslims “Ramadan Mubarak” which means “Blessed Ramadan.” At its conclusion, you may say “Eid Mubarak.

Source: http://www.ramadan.co.uk/index1.php?page=others.htm

Ramadan

Posted on: August 12, 2008

Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان, Ramaḍan) is a Muslim religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, believed to be the month in which the Qur’an began to be revealed.

Name origin

The name “Ramadan” is taken from the name of this month; the word itself derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground, and shortness of rations. It is considered the most venerated and blessed month of the Islamic year. Prayers, sawm (fasting), charity, and self-accountability are especially stressed at this time; religious observances associated with Ramadan are kept throughout the month.

Laylat al-Qadr, which falls during the last third, commemorates the revelation of the first verses of the Qur’an and is considered the most holy night of the year. Ramadan ends with the holiday Eid ul-Fitr, on which feasts are held. During the month following Ramadan, called Shawwal, Muslims are encouraged to fast for a further six days.

Practices during Ramadan

Fasting

Main article: Sawm

The most prominent event of this month is the fasting (sawm) practiced by most observant Muslims. Every day during the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world get up before dawn to eat the Suhoor meal (the pre dawn meal) and perform their fajr prayer. They break their fast when the fourth prayer of the day, Maghrib (sunset), is due.

During Ramadan, Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. Sexual activities during fasting hours are also forbidden.[Qur’an 2:187] Purity of both thought and action is important. The fast is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God Almighty. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. Properly observing the fast is supposed to induce a comfortable feeling of peace and calm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, sacrifice, and sympathy for those who are less fortunate, intended to make Muslims more generous and charitable. Muslims can eat after the sun has set. Pregnant women, the elderly, the ill and children less than 12 years of age are all exempt from fasting as lack of food could damage health.

Prayer and reading of the Qur’an

Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Istanbul in Ramadan (the writing with lights called mahya)

Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Istanbul in Ramadan (the writing with lights called mahya)

Ramadan Lanterns, Cairo


Ramadan Lanterns, Cairo

Eid Ul-Fitr meal, Malaysia

Eid Ul-Fitr meal, Malaysia

In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an.

Sunni Muslims tend to perform the recitation of the entire Qur’an by means of special prayers, called Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Qur’an (juz, which is 1/30 of the Qur’an) is recited, so that by the end of the month the entire Qur’an has been completed. Tarawih is an Arabic phrase referring to those extra prayers. This prayer is performed after salah of Isha’a, but before the witr rakat. Tarawih is an innovation introduced into Islam by the second Caliph Umar so is not practiced by Shia Muslims.

Muslims also pay Zakat (only applicable if one can afford it) during the month. For those who qualify to pay Zakaat, as per the Islamic Nisab (that is those whose wealth exceeds their necessities), of the leftover of their wealth earned in that Islamic calendar year. Although Zakat can be paid any time of the year, it has to be calculated on a year to year basis, and many Muslims use Ramadan as the month for calculation and disbursement.

Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment, establishing a link between God Almighty and themselves by prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others.

Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it, this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need. There is also a social aspect involved – the preparing of special foods and inviting people for the Iftar meal (the meal to break the Fast).

In many Muslim and non Muslim countries with large Muslim populations, markets close down in the evening to enable people to perform prayers and consume the Iftar meal (the meal to end the fast) – these markets then re-open and stay open for a good part of the night. Muslims can be seen shopping, eating, spending time with their friends and family during the evening hours.

Events of Ramadan

Laylat al-Qadr (Arabic: لیلة القدر) (known as Shab-e Qadr in Persian), literally the “Night of Decrees” or “Night of Measures”, is the anniversary of two very important dates in Islam that occurred in the month of Ramadan.[citation needed] Muslims believe that it was the night of the Laylat al-Qadr that the Quran’s first verse was revealed. The exact night of the Laylat al-Qadr is only known to God and Muhammed but he chose to keep it to himself so that Muslims won’t pray only that night. That is why Muhammad indicated that it was one of the last ten odd nights of Ramadan.

The Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر) marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, as per the lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast, a special celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor (‘Zakat al-Fitr’), everyone puts on their best, preferably new, clothes, and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. The prayer is two rakaahs only, and it is an optional prayer as opposed to the compulsory 5 daily prayers. According to one current school of thought (Ankaboot), it is suggested that North American Muslims arrange their work-schedule for Eid by requesting the two most likely days of Eid as Holidays or simply as days off from work. This allows for quality family time, and is akin to the Christian/North American tradition of taking Christmas and Christmas Eve off as holidays. This also allows for time off to celebrate the Eid prayer at a mosque and with family. The fast always ends after 29 or 30 days of fasting, and thus the request would be for the 29th and 30th day after the start of the fast.

Muslims are encouraged to fast six days in Shawwal, the month following Ramadan that begins after Eid ul-Fitr; these days need not be consecutive. According to hadith, one who fasts the month of Ramadan and six days during Shawwal will be rewarded as though he fasted the entire year.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan