Here are some facts about this holy month:
- Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a month of daily fasting, in which Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn to sunset. Fasting is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality and is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.
- The name “Ramadan” had been the name of the ninth month in Arabian culture long before the arrival of Islam; the word itself derived from an Arabic root rm, as in words like “rami’a” or “ar-rama’ denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations.
- The most prominent event of this month is fasting. The fast is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised awareness of closeness to God. 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. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity (Zakat).
- Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing, and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through 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 forgiving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need.
- As compared to the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving backward about ten days each year depending on the moon. Hila’l (the crescent) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon indicates the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan. There are some disagreements each year on when Ramadan starts.