Ramadan or Ramazan is a Muslim religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the month in which the Qur'an was revealed to Angel Gabriel, to deliver it to The Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H). It is the Islamic month of fasting (sawm), in which participating Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset.
This holy month is observed as a time when the believers ask for forgiveness for their past sins, pray for guidance into the future, ask for help in refraining from everyday evils and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. It is a pride of every Muslim to be able to observe all the fasting days of the holy month, exceptions to those of course who are suffering from weak health, illness or the expecting mothers.
Some rituals and facts about Ramadan are:
- 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 'Tarawih' a whole section of the Qur'an ( 1/30 of the Qur'an) is recited. Therefore the entire Quran would be completed at the end of the month.
- Laylat al-Qadr is the highlight of the Ramadan month, expected to most probably occur during an odd night in the last 10 days of Ramadan.
- It is the night in which the Qur'an was sent down to the Prophet Mohamed (P.B.U.H) and is considered the most holy night of the year.
- During the Holy month, Muslims pay 'zakat' (a portion of ones earnings) if affordable, to poor and the needy.
- At a public school in the United States, Muslims are often granted a separate lunch table to fast at during Ramadan so they don't have to watch other people eat.
- In many Muslim and non-Muslim countries with large Muslim populations, markets shut down in the evening to enable people to perform prayers and consume the Iftaar meal (the meal to end the fast) – these markets then re-open and stay open for a good part of the night.
The end of the Holy month of Ramadan is marked by Eid ul-Fitr after another new moon has been sighted. Eid ul-Fitr means the 'Festival of Breaking the Fast'; a special celebration is made. Muslims all over the world offer community prayers early in the morning on Eid , this is the time when people throw the Eid party and social gatherings. It is especially an advantageous occasions for the children as they can show-off their new cloths, enjoy endless treats of chocolates and sweets and increase their pocket money through 'Eidie' (money gifted to children as a token of love).
Apart from the facts and the rituals associated with it, Ramadan is has a festive air about it. It is a time when people indulge in the preparation of the various delicacies and cuisines for the Iftaar. After fasting hours are over for the day (Sunrise to sunset) individuals and families indulge in to some serious shopping ranging from a brand new wardrobe, interior decoration and household items to food. This holy month also gives a chance to revive relationships and strengthen new bonds. With festivity in mind various yummy dishes are exchanged between neighbors, relatives and friends, giving a chance to show off your cooking skills and generosity,often leading to a fun filled competition with a healthy streak to it or curious exchange of interesting recipes.
The age-old art of 'henna' application is re-colored, when the women and girls adorn their palms and arms with the artistic colourations and designs, not to forget the jewelery and dresses. This also is a nice time for the men and boys to put-on their white 'kurta' and 'Sherwani' that come in various new designs and brands.
All in all a great time to end a blessed Holy month and to ask the Almighty to accept ones prayers, goodwill and a chance to be a better human.