On the occassion of the holy month of Ramadan 1432H/2011, we wish you a blessed Ramadan (Ramadan Mubarak).
Ramadan Kareem! (A generous/bountiful Ramadan to you)
What is Ramadan?
- Ramadan is the ninth month of the Hijri (Lunar) Calendar. It is holiest month of the year for Muslims all over the world.
- The onset of Ramadan is declared following the sighting of the new moon at the end of the preceding month, Shaaban (all months of the lunar calendar are either 29 or 30 days long).
- The start of Ramadan could differ from one location to another depending on the ability to sight the new moon.
- The lunar calendar is 11 – 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. Thus every year, Ramadan arrives 11 days earlier than the previous one.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RAMADAN
- Fasting during the month of Ramadan is the fourth of the five fundamental pillars of Islam.
1. Shahada – proclamation of faith – “There is no God except Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah”
2. Salaah – the five compulsory daily prayers
3. Zakat – giving a fixed percentage of one’s annual savings to the poor
4. Sawm (fasting during the month of Ramadan)
5. Hajj – pilgrimage to Makkah (obligatory once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able)
- Muslims all over the world fast during the daylight hours throughout the month of Ramadan.
- The revelation of the Holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) began during the month of Ramadan (in 610 AD).
- Special month of fasting, repentance, increased prayer, increased charity and purification of the soul.
FASTING –WHAT IS IT?
- The physical aspect of fasting involves complete abstinence from food, drink and intimate activities during the daylight hours (from sunrise to sunset). Smoking is also not permitted for a fasting person.
- The Arabic word for “fasting” ( sawm) literally g ) y means “to refrain” ‐ and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from all wrongful thoughts, words and acts – foul language, vain talk, hurtful behavior etc. – throughout the month.
- Fasting is an obligatory act of worship for all Muslims – except children, unhealthy adults (physically or mentally), adults travelling long distances, and women who are menstruating, post‐childbirth care, pregnant of breast feeding.
FASTING ‐ WHY?
- Fasting strengthens one’s faith in God and sincerity in worship – since only the individual and God know whether a person is truly fasting or not.
- Ramadan teaches Muslims to practice self‐restraint, sacrifice, and sympathy towards the poor. A fasting person experiences some of the hardships of the poor and hungry – and becomes even more thankful for God’s blessings.
- Helps Muslims draw closer to God through increased recitation and reflection of the Holy Quran and additional prayers/worship.
- Aids in purification of the heart/soul and helps to improve one’s character.
- Trains the person to do righteous acts of charity, kindness, generosity, patience and forgiveness.
TYPICAL ACTIVITIES DURING RAMADAN
- Suhour: pre‐dawn meal taken before the dawn (Fajr) prayer. Fasting begins after this meal.
- Iftar: breaking of the fast at sunset, upon hearing the sunset (Maghrib) call to prayer. It is customary to break the fast with dates and water.
- Social gatherings – visiting relatives, sharing food with neighbours, friends and the poor.
- Taraweeh: Optional prayers offered in congregation in the mosque early in the night.
- Increased reading of the Holy Quran.
- Optional late night prayers during the last ten days.
EID AL FITR –MARKING THE END OF RAMADAN
- Ramadan ends with a big festival called “Eid Al Fitr” which means the festival of breaking the fast.
- The day begins with special prayers offered in congregation soon after sunrise.
- On this day, Muslims wear new clothes and go out to meet family members and friends greeting each other saying “Eid Mubarak”, which means “May your Eid be blessed”.
- “Eid Al Fitr” is also declared following the sighting of the new moon at the end of Ramadan. Therefore, it could fall either on the 30th or the 31st day after the onset of Ramadan.
RAMADAN ETIQUETTE – THINGS TO TAKE CARE OF
- To respect the sanctity of the holy month and to avoid offending the sentiments of Muslims, here are some tips for Non‐Muslims to be followed during the month of Ramadan:
- Understand that it is the most special month in a Muslim’s calendar.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke in public or in front of Muslim colleagues –even chewing gum is seen as an offence.
- Dress modestly ‐ women should avoid wearing short skirts and other revealing/indecent clothes.
- Muslims generally shun music during fasting hours. Try to keep the volume down if you are listening to music so as not disturb your Muslims colleagues/neighbours.
- It is considered courteous to greet Muslims saying ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ or ‘Ramadan Kareem’.
- Do attend an Iftar meal if you are invited to one – you will get to taste some traditional Ramadan delicacies
(Source: Qatargas circular)