In 2018 holy Islamic month Ramadan begins with the sunset on May 16. In other words, from the night of the said date, or rather, from the morning of May 17 and ends on Jun 15, 2018, evening.
In addition, people also call Ramadan “Ramazan”, it’s the 9th month of the Muslim calendar. Each year of the beginning of the month changes in relation to the Gregorian calendar.
Ramadan month is the most important and honorary feast holiday month for all faithful Muslims all over the world, the end of which is celebrated as a holiday. This year it’s July 16, 2018 since the young Moon rises on 15.05.2018 at 4.21 a.m. Mecca time. Thus, this year Ramadan lasts 30 days.
The meaning of Ramadan:
Ramadan month is considered a fasting month (sawm) obligatory for all Muslims and one of the five Pillars of Islam. During the month of Ramadan in the daytime faithful Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations for the purpose of atonement. In other words, the essence of the fast is a test of will for the sake of spirit’s triumph over flesh desires, attention focusing on the inner world to reveal and suppress sinful streaks and be convicted of committed sins, to struggle with one’s pride for the sake of reconciliation with the Creator’s will. The month lasts 29 or 30 days and depends on the lunar calendar. The fast starts with the beginning of dawn (after morning adhan) and ends after sunset (after evening adhan).
Sawm procedure in Ramadan
Each day before fasting Muslims say an intention (niyyah) in the following rough form: “Tomorrow (today) I intend to keep the fast of Ramadan month for the Allah’s sake.” Preferably Muslims should end the morning eating (Suhur) half an hour before the dawn and begin to break their fast (iftar) right after the beginning of fast-breaking time. It’s recommended to break one’s fast with water, milk, dates, etc.
Each day after the night prayer (isha) Muslims jointly perform the voluntary prayer of tarawih consisting of 8 or 20 rakats. Last ten days of the month the night of Al-Qadr comes (the night of might, the night of destiny).
The first day of Shawwal month the feast of fast-breaking to celebrate the end of Ramadan takes place. This day early in the morning Muslims say the morning prayer (idi namoz) and pay obligatory charity (zakat al-fitr). This feast is the second most important feast for Muslims.
The backround of the month of Ramadan
The complete rejection from common human needs even on the hottest and exhausting days gives Muslims the chance to demonstrate the intensity of their faith. During the fast Muslims try to restrain their instincts and passions (nafs). Besides external purity this month the fasting tries to observe the inner purity in a more strict way – release from all thoughts and actions, which besmear the man. The fast of a Muslim, whose deeds and ideas aren’t clear and pleasing to God is considered invalid since “Allah doesn’t need the abstinence from food and drinks from a person who didn’t leave lie.” Muslims believe that observing the spiritual and physical fasts in the month of Ramadan has extremely positive influence on their souls.
REFERENCE IN THE QURAN
One should fast the estimated number of days. And those who are sick or on the way should fast the same number of days some other time. And those who can hardly keep the fast should feed a poor man in expiation. And if someone does a good deed, the better for him! But it’s better to keep a fast, if you only knew! In the month of Ramadan the Quran was sent – a true guidance for people, clear evidences of the true guidance and difference. Those who are reached with this month should fast. And those who are sick or on the way should fast the same number of days some other time. Allah wishes you relief and doesn’t wish you difficulty. He wishes you to bring the certain number of days to the end and praise Allah that He put you in the right way. Perchance, you will be grateful. (Al Baqarah surah).
This month Muslims pray in a more responsible way than other months, read the Quran, do good causes, give voluntary (sadaka) and obligatory (zakat) charity. Many Muslims who for some reason or other gave up keeping namaz, most often continue to keep this pillar of Islam this month. That’s why Muslims wait for Ramadan with awe.
Forbidden acts during the fast
The following actions done in the daytime break the fast, including:
- Not said intention (niyyah) to fast;
- Intended consuming of meal and drinking;
- Sexual relation (regardless of ejaculation), masturbation and ejaculation caused by petting;
- The use of rectal and vaginal pharmaceutical products;
- Ingestion of phlegm, which gets into the mouth;
- Self-induced vomiting when the mouth is filled with vomited matter.
Non – forbidden actions
- Unintended consuming of meal and drinking;
- Injection of medicinal products (injections);
- Donating blood and blood-letting (hidzham);
- Bathing if water doesn’t get into the mouth;
- Kisses if the partner’s saliva isn’t swallowed;
- Petting if it doesn’t lead to ejaculation;
- Swallowing saliva and phlegm, which don’t get into the mouth;
- Toothbrushing, given that toothpaste doesn’t get into the throat;
- Toothbrushing with a miswak. Some divines consider toothbrushing in the afternoon undesirable, noting a hadith that “the fasting’s breath smell is sweeter than incenses to Allah”;
- Unintended vomiting;
- Failure to conduct salahs.
Categories of people released from the fast
- Not Muslims;
- Minor children and mentally affected adult Muslims;
- Old people and the sick, who cannot stand the fast and do not hope to recuperate. In the fast expiation they should feed poor people;
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women if they worry about their and baby’s health. They should fast as the reason for their relieving of their duties disappears.
- Travelers. Travelers are allowed to break their fast regardless of their physical state and journey difficulty.
- Women going through menstrual bleeding and postdelivery rectification.
Those who do not observe the fast of Ramadan are not recommended to meal or smoke in the daytime for everyone to see. During the fast in Islamic countries it’s forbidden to eat, drink, smoke, chew the chewing gum, and switch loud music in public places.
Obligatory conditions in Ramadan month
The obligatory condition of the fast is an intention (niyyat) to conduct it. The intention is said with the heart and confirmed with the tongue in any language the fasting understands. The intention is roughly the following: “Tomorrow (today) I intend to keep the fast of Ramadan month for the Allah’s sake.” The intention is said every day in the period between the night (isha) and morning (fadzhr) namaz. The intention said at the beginning of the month for all the days of Ramadan month is considered invalid in all Sunni Madhhabs, except the Maliki.
Debts in Ramadan month
Breaking the fast during Ramadan for no good reason is considered a sin. In accordance with one of the Five Pillars of Islam:
- For unintentional breaking of the fast for good reasons (severe illness, hayd) a Muslim must make up for a passed fast with 1 fasting day or pay those in need the settled amount of 1 saa of wheat or products bought with this money.
- For a fast missed for a good reason he should fasting any other day before the next month of Ramadan.
- For a sexual intercourse in the daytime it’s necessary to make up for this day with 60 days of a continuous fast or feed 60 poor men.
- In case one fails to keep a fast by reasons permitted by Shariat, one needs to repent.
THE GOOD DURING RAMADAN
According to accurate Hadiths and the Quran, doing good deeds is considered especially important. According to prophet Muhammad’s sayings, Allah increases the significance of each one 700 times and shaitan is put in chains in this month, that’s why it’s easier for Muslims to do good deeds this month rather than other months. During Ramadan Muslims of Islamic guidance try to spend more time praying and reading the Quran, give alms, do other good causes.
Suhur during Ramadan
Suhur is taking a meal early in the morning during the month of Ramadan. A meal is taken before praying — fadzhr (before the dawn). During Ramadan suhur and iftar (the evening fast-breaking) replace traditional three meals (breakfast, dinner, and supper).
It’s desirable to conduct suhur on the eve of the first signs of dawn as in this case a reward from Allah for the fast will be greater. If a fasting doesn’t eat before the dawn, his fast is actual, but he looses some part of the reward as he doesn’t commit one of the actions relating to the prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah.
IFTAR DURING RAMADAN
Iftar is a fast breaking, an evening meal taken during the month of Ramadan. Takes place after the evening praying at local time. Iftar starts right after the sunset. It’s undesirable to put off the meal. According to Sunnah, one should break his fast with water or dates. The prophet Muhammad said: “If anyone of you is fasting, let him break his fast with dates. In case he does not have them, then with water. Verily water is a purifier.”
After ifrat the following prayer (dua) is said:
“O God! for Your sake have I fasted and I broke the fast with the food You gave me. I hope on You and believe in You. Forgive me, Whose mercy is boundless. Praise to the Almighty, Who helped me to fast and fed me when I was breaking the fast.”
“O Allah (O God)! For the sake of your content with me I fasted, came to believe in You, relied on You and broke the fast with Your gifts. Forgive me my past and future wrongdoings, o Forgiving!”
TARAWIH DURING RAMADAN
Tarawih (a break, rest, time out ) — a voluntary prayer (namaz), which is said after the obligatory night prayer (isha) and lasts till dawn. Tarawih prayer is said both individually and collectively. “Tarawih” word is a plural form of the Arabic word “tarwikha”, which means “rest”. The prayer is named in such a way, because after the four rakats worshippers take a rest sitting while praising the God or listening to imam’s edifications.
In the days of the prophet Muhammad tarawih consisted of 8 or 20 rakats, however tarawih consisted of 20 rakats was finally approved by khaliff Umar with the consent of sahabah. According to 4 Sunni Madhhabs, tarawih prayer is performed by 20 rakats (10 prayers by 2 rakats). It’s performed each day during the whole month of Ramadan after the night prayer (isha). In the days of the prophet Muhammad’s disciples a brief break was made after each four rakats, during which Allah was praised and mentioned or a brief preaching was read.
THE LAST TEN DAYS OF RAMADAN
During the last ten days of Ramadan Muslims worship more diligently. This time it’s recommended to stay in mosques (I’tikaf) by the example of the prophet Muhammad, who secluded in a mosque for ten days, and the last year of his life he secluded for twenty days. The obligatory condition of seclusion in a mosque is saying the intention (niyyah): “I intend to stay in i’tikaf in this mosque in order to draw nearer Allah.” The intention is repeated when one leaves the mosque. These days the night of Al-Qadr is expected (the night of power, the night of destiny).
Al-Qadr night (Laylat Qard)
The night of destiny (Laylat Al-Qard), also the Night of Al-Qard, the Night of Power. It’s the 27th night of the month of Ramadan to celebrate the Muhammad’s revelation of the surah of “Inna anzalnahu” in 610 in the cave of Khira of Dzhabal an-Nur mountain. According to Islamic resources, this night archangel Dzhabrail appeared before praying Muhammad and said pointing at a scroll: “Read!” (The Quran!). The Night of Destiny is celebrated at the end of the ninth month of Ramadan. It’s common to ask for the God’s forgiveness for committed sins and read the Quran at the Night of Destiny.
The Feast of Breaking the Fast Eid Al-Fitr (Bayram) takes place on the first day of shawwal month, i.e. the 30th or 31th day of the month of Ramadan and marks the end of Ramadan. This day Muslims say the feast’s prayer (idi namoz) and give obligatory alms (zakat al-fitr).
Zakat al-fitr (a fast-breaking charity) – charity that should be given to needy Muslims before the feast of Ramazan take place. Paying zakat al-fitr is an obligatory act (vadzhib) for Muslims. Head of the family pays alms for all members of his family, who are under his care. If a child is born after the sunset of the last day of Ramadan month, there’s no need to pay zakat al-fitr for him or her.
Zakat al-fitr can be paid to an authorized person in a mosque or to people in need. The amount of alms is 1 saa of loose matters widespread in the area where it is paid. For example, it’s recommended to pay with wheat and barley in Europe, with rice in South-East Asia, with dates in the Middle East. Saa is a weight measure that makes up 3500 g (in the Hanafi Madhhab) or 2,176 g (in other Sunni Madhhabs). In the Hanafi Madhhab a half of saa is paid. The best way to pay zakat al-fitr is to pay it with food as people did in the days of the prophet Muhammad. The payment of alms with money equivalent is allowed in the Hanafi Madhhab.
The purpose of paying zakat al-fitr is expiation (kafarrah) of possible mistakes and omissions done during the month of the fast and also relief to the poor in celebrating the feast of Uraza (Eid al-Fitr) with other Muslims.
Feast greetings and the Calendar of Ramadan
For Muslims the month of the fast is a festal occasion, which they compliment on with words Ramazani karim (Wish you generous Ramadan!) or Ramadan mubarak (Blessed is Ramadan!). The following words are traditional wish in this month: “Let Allah in Ramadan glad your eyes with sweet evenings and friendship of the chosen, the mercy of Forgiving, and the paradise of the devout!” People also wish a fasting Allah to bless his fast.
The next day after the new moon is considered the beginning of each month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar. The Lunar Calendar is abo0ut 11 days shorter than the Gregorian Calendar, that’s why the date of Ramadan beginning shifts about 10-11 days back in relation to the modern calendar. It’s also necessary to take into account that in some Muslim countries the first day of Ramadan is determined with astronomic calculations, and in others – with direct observation over the Moon, or it can be determined based on an announcement of people reputable in the Muslim world. Therefore, the beginning of the religious feast can differ depending on a country or weather conditions.
Forecast of the beginning of Ramadan month the next years: