Ramadan Facts: Part 1

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Ramadan Mubarak
Image by unknown, taken from another blog

What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, also known as the Hegira or Hijri calendar. The Islamic lunar calendar started when the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) migrated to Madinah, hence the name Hijri or Hegira, which is derived from the Arabic word ‘hijrah’ (migration).

How do we know when Ramadan starts and ends?
Ramadan is based on the Islamic lunar calendar, in which months start and end with the rise of the new moon. A month usually lasts 29 or 30 days. Originally, the rise of new moons was observed by the naked eye, and this is still widely practiced by Muslims all over the world. However, this usually results in differences in the beginning of the months in different areas. Although the topic is still being hotly debated, in a few areas the Muslims are now relying on astronomical calculations to determine the beginning and end of the months.

Why do Muslims fast Ramadan?
Fasting Ramadan is the third of the five pillars of Islam. It is obligatory for Muslims who have reached the age of puberty to fast the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). In the Quran Allah says that fasting leads to taqwa, which means ‘fearing Allah’s punishment and hoping for Allah’s mercy.’ Fasting also helps Muslims feel what their hungry brothers and sisters (in famine-stricken areas) are experiencing. It also is believed to be a shield for one’s self from the Hell-fire.

Is there anybody who is exempt from fasting?
Just as fasting is obligatory for all Muslims, there are a number of people who are exempt from fasting. The people who are exempt from fasting are divided into 3 groups:

  • Those who are not eligible to fast, and do not have to make up for the fasts they missed neither do they have to provide meals for the needy
  • Those who are exempt from fasting, but have to make up for the fasts later during the year
  • Those who are exempt from fasting, but cannot make up for the fasts later during the year, and so have to provide a meal for a needy person per day
  • Those who are exempt from fasting, but have to make up for the fasts later during the year, and also have to provide a meal for a needy person per day

We will take a detailed look at the different people who are exempt from fasting in next Friday’s post, God willing (In sha Allah).

Until next time, best wishes,
Bouchra

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