Ramadan is the month of obligatory fasting. However, fasting is not limited to the month of Ramadan, Muslims can fast voluntarily at any time of the year. But Ramadan is especially associated with fasting whose importance can be realized in the following saying of the Prophet Muhammad SAW. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: The Messenger of Allah said:
“There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month, which Allah, the Mighty, and Sublime, has enjoined you to fast. In it, the gates of the heavens are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and every devil is chained up. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months; whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.” Sunan an-Nasa'i 2106: Book 22, Hadith 17
During the month of Ramadan, the reward for doing good deeds gets increased seventy times.
Salmaan Farsi (R.A) narrated that on the last day of Shabaan, Allah’s Messenger (SAW) spoke to us and said:
‘O People, there comes to you a great month now, a most blessed month, in which is a night greater in value and goodness than a thousand months. It is a month in which Allah Has made fasting fardh (obligatory) by day and has made Sunnah the Taraweeh Salah by night. Whosoever wants to be close to Allah by doing any good deed, for such person shall be the reward like the one who had performed a fardh in any other time and whoever performs a fardh (obligation), shall be given the reward of seventy faraaidh (obligations) in any other time.’ Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, Hadith No. 1887
Muslims indulge in the religious observance of the following practice to make the most of Ramadan.
Suhoor is the Arabic name for the early morning meal that marks the beginning of the fast. Suhoor is sunnah. There are blessings and goodness in Suhoor, both spiritual and physical. Anas ibn Maalik (R.A) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Eat suhoor, for in suhoor there is a blessing.” Al-Bukhaari, 1923; Muslim, 1095
Suhoor helps you in maintaining your energy levels throughout the day. It gives you the strength to perform acts of worship during the fast. Avoiding Suhoor deprives your body of the vital nutrients it needs to function and can be potentially detrimental to health. You can enjoy various foods in suhoor such as dates, brown rice, whole wheat bread, oats, potatoes, and fruits.
Sawm or Siyam is the Arabic name for fasting, meaning “abstaining from something”. Fast begins with Suhoor and ends at Iftar. During the daytime, Muslims avoid eating, drinking, and other means of physical pleasure. Not only this but Muslims also abstain from showing ill manners, foul speech, and harming others. Fast encourages Muslims to practice compassion, and ease the burdens of others as much as possible while being conscious of Allah’s presence.
Iftar is the evening meal (just after sunset) with which Muslims break their fast after a day of fasting. The Arabic word Iftar means “to break”. It is not just an act of eating and drinking but is a spiritual experience. It invites every fasting person to reflect on the food as a blessing from Allah and be grateful to Him for fulfilling their needs. Not only it provides physical energy to carry on with worldly affairs and worship but is also a source of spiritual development.
Islam encourages having a simple iftar and not a lavish meal because focusing only on the extravagant meal to satiate hunger would be devoid of the spiritual benefits the fast has to offer.
Another specialty of Ramadan is the Taraweeh prayer. Tawaweeh is derived from the root word rauh or raha, meaning to “take rest.” This voluntary prayer is offered at night, and the name depicts the act of taking a small break halfway through the prayer. Taraweeh prayer is specific to Ramadan and differs from the night prayers Qiyam al Layl offered throughout the year.
Zakat-ul-Fitr is the charitable contribution made any time throughout the month of Ramadan (before Eid-ul-Fitr) to the poor or needy people in your society. It is a token of care that Muslim communities express towards their fellow brothers and sisters so that they can celebrate the blessed and cheerful occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Itikaf is a spiritual practice that involves dedicating oneself to the worship of Allah by secluding oneself during the last 10 days of Ramadan. For men, it is typically done in a Masjid, while for women, it can be done at home. The main purpose of Itikaf is to detach oneself from the distractions of the world and focus solely on spiritual pursuits.
Laylat-al-Qadr also referred to as the Night of Power, is one of the most significant nights in the Islamic calendar. It is believed that during this night, Angel Jibril revealed the first verses of the Holy Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
This occasion falls within the final 10 days of Ramadan, however, the exact date is unknown. Therefore, Muslims are recommended to find it in the last 10 days of Ramadan and offer voluntary prayers each night. Laylat-al-Qadr is a night of profound importance in Islam, marked by intense devotion and reverence to Allah and considered to be more significant than 1,000 months. As mentioned in Quran:
"We have indeed revealed this in the 'Night of Power'. And what will explain to you what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down The Angels and the Spirit by Allah's permission, on every errand. "Peace!...This until the rise of Morn!" Surah Al-Qadr - The Quran
Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated for three days. It commences only after the sighting of the moon. This festive occasion is marked by lavish feasts, the exchange of gifts with children, and spending time with loved ones. On the first morning of Eid, Muslims all over the world wear their best clothes after ghusl (bath) and take part in the Special Eid ul Fitr prayer ceremony held in mosques (masjid) or carried out in open areas, under the sky. All Muslims recite Takbir and praise the greatness of Allah.
This article explained the different practices Muslims perform during the month. Ramadan is a rich, blessed, and sacred time of the year for Muslims worldwide. It is packed with special occasions and practices that nourish the soul and body of the fasting individual.
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