Ramadhan Mubarak everyone! How are you all?
This post is a small effort from my part to help anyone who has any questions about Ramadhan (Muslim youngsters, adults, anyone from any religion!). I’ll be going over some commonly asked questions about Ramadhan, many of which I’ve gotten from non-Muslim friends and/or Muslim youth in my community.
Alright, let’s dive into the questions and answers! 🙂
- What is Ramadhan?
Ramadan is the name for the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is a holy month for Muslims when they abstain from eating and drinking and any other physical needs during the daylight hours. It is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self sacrifice. Also, the month of Ramadhan is the month in which the Holy Quran began to be revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
- Why do Muslims fast during Ramadhan?
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars (duties) of Islam (the other four are the testimony of faith, prayer, charitable giving, and making pilgrimage to Mecca). The Holy Quran says that the main purpose of fasting is to attain taqwa (God-consciousness) and strengthen our bond with Allah. While we are hungry and thirsty, we are reminded of the suffering of the poor and how blessed they are to have what they have. We fast to remind ourselves of our frailty and reliance on Allah for sustenance. Fasting is also an opportunity to practice self-control and to cleanse the body and mind.
- How long does Ramadhan last?
It lasts for one month: 30 days. The dates change every year and are based on the Islamic lunar calendar. It begins with the appearance of the new moon and ends with the next appearance of the new moon.
- Who should keep the fast?
Fasting is mandatory for every Muslim who is sane, healthy, adult, and able.
- Who can be exempt from fasting?
Those whom are ill, traveling, pregnant, nursing, menstruating, too old, or too young are exempted from fasting. Those who do not fast should pay Fidya (expiation), which in a way compensates for one missing their fasts.
- Can you explain a little more about what Fidya is?
Fidya is a donation of money or food made to help those in need. However, whenever and if one is able to make up their fasts, one should still do so before the next Ramadhan. If one has the means, they can give Fidya in addition to the obligatory fasting as paying Fidya was the practice of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
- At what age does one start fasting?
One should start fasting at about the age of 15. Young children should not fast because we don’t want fasting to disrupt a young child’s development. A parent should look at what time of year Ramadhan occurs in (winters are shorter fasts, and summers are longer fasts), and look at the strength/health of their child as they decide when and how they want their child to start.
- When does a fast begin and end?
Fasting in Islam begins everywhere at the first appearance of dawn and ends with sunset.
- What happens if I unintentionally eat or drink when fasting?
Eating or drinking unintentionally (when one truly has forgotten) does not invalidate the fast, so the fast should be completed till nightfall. Also, if one involuntarily vomits, that does not break their fast.
- Besides eating and drinking, what else should Muslims refrain from during Ramadhan?
Ramadhan is all about disciplining oneself in all aspects of life. While fasting and even if we are not, we should to refrain from vain talk, fights/arguments, swearing, gossiping, complaining, lying, slander, and essentially anything bad. Muslims also need to refrain from smoking cigarettes, and engaging in any sexual activity, from dawn to sunset. Some people also decide to give up or limit activities like music, movies, television, games on the phone, etc. We want to strengthen and focus on our faith and our bond with God so we need to rid ourselves of any distractions.
- What is the prayer to begin a fast?
Wa bisaumi ghadin nawaito min shahri Ramadhan
I intend to fast in the morning of the month of Ramadhan.
- What is the prayer to open a fast?
Allah-umma innee laka sumtu wa bika ‘aa-mantu wa ‘alaa rizqika aftartu
O Allah, I observed the fast for your sake. I believe in You and I end the fast by eating that which You have provided me.
- What is Iʿtikaaf?
Iʿtikaaf is a spiritual retreat. A fasting Muslim stays for a certain number of days in the mosque with the intention to devote oneself fully to Allah. Iʿtikaaf is recommended (it is a practice of the Holy Prophet peace and blessings be upon him), especially during the last ten nights of Ramadan. This is a period of complete devotion of the worshipper’s time. One spends their time praying, remembering Allah, and reading the Holy Quran.
- How can I fully maximize this opportunity to strengthen my devotion to Allah in this month?
Do more good deeds with the aim of strengthening your faith and receiving Allah’s blessings. Increase your knowledge by reading and studying the Holy Quran, and the life of the Holy Prophet (saw). Reflect on the values that the Holy Quran teaches us and see how you can incorporate these into your daily life, not just in this blessed month, but the entire year to come. This month is a time to increase our generosity, our empathy, our charity, our patience, our love, and try our best to be humble. We try to be the best versions of ourselves so that we may continue to be so throughout the rest of the year.
- What happens at the end of Ramadhan?
The end of Ramadhan is celebrated by the Festival of Eid ul-Fitr. Eid begins with special morning prayers on the first day of Shawwal, the month following Ramadan on the Islamic lunar calendar. It is forbidden to perform an optional fast during Eid because it is a time for relaxation. We go to the mosque for Eid prayers and afterwards we celebrate with family and friends.
- How can I be respectful to my Muslim friends/neighbors during Ramadhan?
We don’t expect everyone to drastically change how they treat us. A few tips:
- Try to remember not to offer them some of your lunch. (it’s ok if you accidentally do!)
- Wish them a Happy Ramadhan.
- A big one…try not to have extremely loud parties this month. (My neighbors are probably the worst neighbors in regards to this! They are so rowdy and disrespectful pretty much all year long. It’s the night before we begin our first fast, and they have their music blasting, cursing, drinking…the works!). I’m not saying to not have any parties. Knock yourselves out! Just try to be a bit more respectful during these days with the music and belligerency.
- Just be kind and respectful of their timings and responsibilities this month.
If you would like to learn more about Ramadhan, click here.
I hope this helped any one who had any questions about Ramadhan! Feel free to leave any other questions down below in the comment section! 🙂