Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ramadan al Mubarak, 9th Month of Islamic Calendar (Ramdan, Ramzan, Ramadhan, Ramazan, Ramdhan, Ramzhan)

Ramadan al Mubarak ( رمضان, Ramaān) is a Muslim religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, believed to be the month in which the Holy Qur'an began to reveal. It is the Islamic month of fasting in which Muslims don't eat or drink anything and abstain from intercourse or ejaculation (not a wet dream) from sunrise 'till sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the person patience and humility.

The name "Ramadan al Mubarak" 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, fasting (roza, sawm), charity, and self-accountability are especially stressed at this time; religious observances associated with Ramadan al Mubarak are kept throughout the month.

Practices during Ramadan al Mubarak

Fasting (Day time Fasting from Saher to Iftar)
The most prominent event of this month is the fasting (roza, sawm) practiced by all Muslims. Every day during the month of Ramadan al Mubarak, 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 al Mubarak, Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. 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 Allah 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 forbidden(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(if it is harmful to them), the elderly, the ill and children less than 12 years of age(Minors) are all exempted as it is not obligatry on them.

Prayer and reading of the Qur'an
The Muslims tend to perform the recitation of the entire Qur'an by means of special prayers, called Taravih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month to complete the Whole Quran during the month, so that by the end of the month the entire Qur'an has been completed. Taravih is an Arabic word referring to those extra prayers. This prayer is performed after salah of Isha'a, but before the witr rakat.

Muslims also pay Zakat (zakaat/zekat/zikat 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 al Mubarak as the month for calculation and disbursement.

Ramadan al Mubarak 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 Allah 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. 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 al Mubarak
Laylat al-Qadr (لیلة القدر) (known as Shab-e Qadr in Persian), literally the "Night of Power" or "Night of Measures", is the anniversary of two very important dates in Islam that occurred in the month of Ramadan al Mubarak.Muslims believe that it was the night of the Laylat al-Qadr that the Chapter 97(Al Qadr 'Power') of the Quran was revealed. The exact night of the Laylat al-Qadr is only known to Allah and Muhammed but He chooses 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 al Mubarak.

The Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (عيد الفطر) marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan al Mubarak and the first day of the following month (Shawal 10th month of Islamic calendar), after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, as per the lunar (moon) sighting.

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

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