Ramadan is one of the holiest and the most popular festivals of the Muslims. It is celebrated with devotion and enthusiasm all throughout the world. This festival usually takes place during the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan is the time when the Muslims offer intense prayers to god and fast on a daily basis.
Ramadan Fasts – What You Must Know
Fasting during Ramadan is considered to be a way of protecting oneself from evil. The Muslims believe that fasting is actually a shield and an opportunity to get rid of one’s sins. Prophet Muhammad had been quoted to be saying “Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah will have all of his previous sins forgiven."
Fasting helps one get an idea about the thirst, hunger, and sufferings which the poor and the needy go through. However, the purpose of fasting is to practice self-restraint, understand what self-sacrifice is all about, and become pious. The Muslims believe that through fasting and rigorous prayers, they will get better connected with their inner selves and obtain the blessings of the Allah.
Ramadan fasts are intended to help the Muslims attain the highest moral quality which is known as the Taqwa. This is obtained by being conscious of the Allah and his commandments and avoiding the actions that are prohibited by Islam.
Ramadan Fasts – When You May Not Do So
If you’re traveling beyond the city and its suburbs, and your body doesn’t have the strength to stay without food and water, then you may break the fast or not observe it at all. Even if you’re not traveling but you’re sick (not a minor headache or cough), you may not keep the fast. Elderly people who don’t have the strength to stay without food may avoid fasting because it may deteriorate their health further. Those who’re going through menstruation or postnatal bleeding need not observe Ramadan fasts. Pregnant women are not allowed to fast. Also, those who’re mentally ill need not observe the fast.
Ramadan Fast Times
Fasting during Ramadan begins early in the morning before the starting of dawn and ends with sunset. The Muslims are expected to observe the fast on a daily basis. So, before the dawn, Muslims take a meal known as the Sehri, after which they observe the fast for the entire daytime.
What Not To Do During Fasting
During Ramadan fasts, the Muslims should refrain from doing the following things:
Having food and drink
Being rude and impolite
Using obscene language
Gossips and backbiting
Telling lies or cheating
Arguing and fighting
Indulging in sex
Breaking Fast in Ramadan
The Muslims break the Ramadan fasts after sunset. The fast is usually broken with a prayer or dua such as:
Thahabath-tham'u wab-tallatil-'urooqu wa thabatal-ajru inshaa' Allah (Ramadan dua in Arabic)
The translated version of the above prayer is:
The thirst has gone, the arteries are moist, and the reward set, Allah willing.
Once the Ramadan fasts break, the Muslim families get together for a special meal called the Iftar. The Muslims usually start the Iftar by having dates just as Prophet Muhammad had been doing ages ago. This is followed by eating fresh fruits and a variety of recipes which the Muslims prepare for the Iftar meal.
The Ramadan fast 2012 will follow the similar process as it happens every year during the festival. The rules and regulations of fasting will remain the same.
Ramadan fasts are a way to redirect the mind from all worldly activities. Through fasting, one is considered to cleanse his inner self from all impurities. Fasting teaches the Muslims to exercise self-control and discipline. It is also considered as a demonstration of the unity of Muslims, as they start and break the fasts at the same time, irrespective of whichever part of the world they are in.