Muslims around the world are currently in the period of Ramadhan. According to CNN, an international news outlet, Islam is the world’s second largest religion after Christianity with approximately 1.8 billion followers as of 2015. The religion is said to have begun in 610 A.D. when a man named Muhammad from Mecca in Arabia started receiving revelations from a deity, Allah through an angel called Gabriel.
Ramadhan, according to Wikipedia the online encyclopedia, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is observed to commemorate the first revelation of the Qur’an, the Islamic Holy book, to Muhammad, Islam’s most significant prophet.
The word Ramadhan originates from Ramad which means “that which is intensely or vehemently heated by the sun.” The relationship between Ramadhan and the fasting period is that Ramadhan is believed to burn the sins of those that observe it. This is according to Sheik Abdullah Hasan, a Muslim scholar and expert in the United Kingdom.
Observance of Ramadhan is mandated in the Qur’an, Surah 2 Al-Baqarah, Ayah 185:
“During the month of Ramadhan the Qur’an was sent down as a guidance to the people with clear signs of the true guidance and as the criterion (between right and wrong). So those of you who live to see that month should fast it, and whoever is sick or on a journey should fast the same number of other days instead. Allah wants ease and not hardship for you so that you may complete the number of days required, magnify Allah for what He has guided you to, and give thanks to Him.”
Muslims wait for the sighting of the crescent moon to start and end Ramadhan. This according to ThoughtCo, an online general knowledge dissemination platform, is because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle.
The lunar cycle follows the oscillation of moon around the sun. Those oscillations are said to be approximately 29.5 days. This is according to StarDate, a knowledge dissemination platform on space science.
Fasting is one the five pillars of Islam, the other pillars being;Shahadah-the declaration of faith, Salat-making five daily prayers, Zakat-giving to charity, and Hajj-making a pilgrimage to Mecca. During Ramadhan, the pillars of Islam are faithfully observed by committed believers. However, making a pilgrimage to Mecca is not possible for every Muslim since it is expensive.
Even though fasting is important for all Muslim faithfuls, exceptions are made for those who are not able to observe the fast. Children who have not yet reached puberty, and other vulnerable groups of Muslims are also exempted from fasting.
During Ramadhan, Muslims eat before dawn. The meal taken during this time is called Suhur. From dawn to dusk, they do not eat food, neither do they drink water. They also abstain from sexual intercourse and other activities that are deemed unholy. After dusk, they break the fast with the meal Iftar.
In case you have Muslim friends who are observing Ramadhan, you can wish them a blessed Ramadhan by saying, “Ramadhan Kareem” or “Ramadhan Mubarak.”