As you can see I started my blog post differently. This is because we are taught taking the name of Allah (God) before starting anything gives blessings in your action.
Today I am going to do something completely different. As most of you know I’m a Muslim and this month in the Islamic calendar is the holy month of Ramadan. Most of you may have come across the term on Facebook/Twitter if you have any Muslim friends but as I have found in the past few days, people don’t always know what Ramadan is actually about. I have received a few questions from my non-Muslim friends who were interested in the subject and that inspired me to create this blog post. I was going to do a general overview but another Muslim beauty blogger created a post explaining the basics so please take a look at that here at themaryfairy.
1. What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a special month in the Islamic calendar which has been singled out by God with having special virtues that are not present in any other month. Within this month is the Night of Decree/Power which ‘is better than a thousand months’. The month consists of Fasting, Taraweeh (night prayers), reading the Quran (holy book), supplication and charity and ends with the Eid celebrations.
Ramadan is the month of the Quran. It was in this month the Quran was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and so we try and read as much of the Quran we possibly can. This helps to spiritually cleanse our mind and soul. In this month, we spend as much time as we can in worship as the rewards are multiplied. It is the month where we can truly appreciate what our Lord has given us, because we are able to experience what it is like to have no food or water. We try and do good by giving more in charity and we attempt to remove ourselves from situations where we will forget our Lord and fall into sin.
2. How long does it last?
Ramadan lasts for either 29/30 days and it ends when the new moon is sighted. This is total Ramadan humour but NO we do not fast for 29/30 days consecutively (breeaathhe) but I will address that below.
3. The million dollar question – why do Muslims fast?
To put it simply, we fast because it has been prescribed to us by God so that we may be conscious of ourselves and our actions and to attain Piety (being conscious of God). Here are a few ways in which fasting helps us to attain this Piety:
- Fasting makes us appreciate and give thanks for our pleasures. By giving up some pleasures for a short time, we begin to appreciate their value. I saw a tweet recently which really touched me. ‘Some people fast throughout the year without choice. Be Grateful’.
- Fasting is a means of giving up haraam (forbidden) things.
- Fasting makes us feel compassion and empathy towards the poor because for those hours we get a small sense of what they constantly feel. The above tweet brings that home.
4. How long do you fast for?
The fast begins at dawn (which in my area is approximately 3am at the moment) and ends at sunset which is around 9pm. Being July the fasts are currently very long.
5. Why is Ramadan in summer?
Ramadan is a month in the Islamic lunar calendar so it changes every year. When I was younger Ramadan was in December but each year it comes forward approximately 10 days and as the years have passed by Ramadan has now moved from Winter to Summer. Each year it will just continue to creep forward.
6. Are you allowed to eat or drink anything?
No. You must abstain from all food and drink. A fasting person must also abstain from sexual relations. In addition to these things a fasting person should be mindful to keep away from backbiting and slanderous talk.
7. Who is exempt?
Fasting is mandatory on every Muslim who is an adult, sane, able and resident. Those that are exempt include:
- - A person that is mentally impaired and does not understand the concept of fasting/religion.
- - Those who have not yet reached puberty
- - The elderly and chronically ill
- - Pregnant or nursing women if it would cause them or the baby harm.
- - Women during the period of menstruation or post childbirth.
- - Travellers
8. What foods do you eat?
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to open his fast with fresh dates and water, hence following this tradition Muslims also begin with dates and water. One of the physical benefits of this is that dates have a high level of natural sugars which are converted into energy very quickly.
I feel I should take this time to explain that those of you who have seen the Ramadan preparation that I have been doing i.e. all those samosa’s, rolls and fried goodies, these are entirely a cultural thing. This has nothing to do with Islam and in fact over indulging at Iftar time (Sunset when we open our fast) is not the purpose of fasting at all.
I believe that’s the end of all my questions. I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who asked a question for their interest in gaining this knowledge. I am always available to answer any questions I can to the best of my ability inshaAllah (God willing). On a final note, I heard that a non-Muslim 'twitter personality' had a go at fasting for one day last week. If you want to try it (even if it is just for the detoxifyng benefits) than be sure to let me know how you got on.
Till next time...Toodles! :)