Ramadan is that time of year when Muslims
recharge their spiritual batteries. For a whole month they fast from dawn
to sunset, and offer additional prayers at night. After the end of Ramadan
comes one of the two Muslim festivals, a day of Eid. On this day
Muslims thank God for his guidance and grace in helping them to control
their baser desires and fulfil their spiritual needs.
Muslims agree on all the fundamentals of
the fast. This makes the fasting a worldwide phenomenon observed by the
devoted among the worlds one billion Muslims as one international
community. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year which follows
the lunar calendar. Each month begins with a sighting of the moons
crescent and lasts 29 or 30 days until a sighting of the next months
crescent. Due to a difference of interpretation, some Muslims may begin
and end Ramadan a day before the others. One interpretation accepts the
sighting anywhere in the world, whereas the other interpretation prefers
to wait for a sighting closer to home. Since neither interpretation rejects
the Islamic sources, Muslims remain one international community despite
this interpretive variety.
Ramadan is the month in which the Quran
was revealed as a guidance for all mankind. It is a criterion by which to
distinguish truth from falsehood. The Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace,
said that on each day of Ramadan God frees many souls from the fire of Hell.
Muslims should introduce the Qurans teachings to others so that
they too can have the opportunity to be free.
Fasting is a major feature of Ramadan. Many
religions recognize the benefits of fasting, but only Islam institutes
a month of it to secure its benefits for all its adherents. God prescribes
in His book that all able-bodied Muslims must fast. This will develop
in them a consciousness that will help them towards right conduct and
prevent them from wrongdoing.
To obtain this result, a Muslim must stick
to both the formal and informal aspects of the fast. The formal aspects
include abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse.
The informal aspects of the fast are just
as important. The fasting person must abstain from lying, cheating, argumentation,
fighting, foul language and every sort of evil. In this month one has
to cultivate a lasting awareness of God, and a keen sense to observe his
commandments throughout the year. The prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace,
said that if someone does not give up falsehood in speech and actions,
God has no need for such a one to give up his food and drink.