Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic religion in which Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and lasts about 29 to 30 days, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with daily prayer, charity, performing pilgrimage to Mecca, and faith in God. Fasting is obligatory for Muslims past the age of puberty; however, people who are pregnant, elderly, menstruating, or traveling are exempt from fasting. The objective of the fast is to improve faith and become obedient to God, practice patience, and demonstrate self-control on worldly pleasures.
According to the Islamic holy book, the Quran, Ramadan was set apart from the rest of the months because the Quran was revealed in that month as a guide for human intellect and the gratification of God. It is a time to detach from excessive entertainment and focus on self-spirituality.
While fasting from sunrise to sunset, Muslims refrain from any immoral behavior. Wrongful behavior such as talking behind one’s back and cursing may negate the rewards gained from fasting. Rewards, both in this life and the afterlife, are believed to be multiplied during the month of Ramadan.
Muslims are permitted to eat after sunset until before sunrise. The breaking of the fast is called an Iftaar, while the last meal before one starts fasting is called Suhoor. The meal usually consists of dates and dried apricots.
Freshman Lyla Salyani says, “It is a month that we can reflect on what we have done in the past and what we can do to make ourselves better people in the future. I am more conscious of all the decisions I make that could either harm or help others.”
The holy month includes the increased offerings of prayer, the recitation of the Quran, and the increased doing of good deeds and charity. Taraweeh is the action of praying in which the entire Quran is recited during the month of Ramadan. There are 30 chapters of the Quran, which are finished during the approximate 30 days of Ramadan.
Freshman Omar Khan, “During Ramadan, I am much closer with my family and friends as opposed to any other month. My family and I break fast and pray together every day. It is a very holy month, so everyone is trying to do things to bring them closer to their community.”
Laylat al-Qadr, or the “Night of Power,” is considered to be the holiest night of the year for Muslims. It commemorates the night in which the holy book was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is one of the numerically odd nights (such as the 23rd, 25th, or 27th) during the last 10 days of Ramadan. It is said that blessings and forgiveness from God are plentiful during this night; according to tradition, the blessings from worship during this night could never be equal to even a lifetime of worship.
Eid al-Fitr, or the “festival of breaking the fast,” is the festival marking the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal. The holiday is the first and only day during Shawwal that Muslims are not permitted to fast. Instead, they enjoy food, family gatherings, giving back to the poor and their community, and giving gifts to family and friends called Eidi. Customarily, friends and family dress up in new Eid clothes and visit each other’s houses.
Rutgers student and activist Ameer al-Khatahtbeh said, “We usually will visit our family and check up on our family-friends, and then go out to have dinner. Eid, to me, means that I’ve endured a religious cleanse that was very needed on my soul; I usually come out of Ramadan feeling refreshed and trying to incorporate my experiences and tolerance even after Ramadan.”
Common phrases include “Ramadan/Eid Mubarak,” which means “Have a blessed Ramadan/Eid,” or “Siyam Kareem,” meaning “blessed fasting.”
What are some ways you can be respectful to Muslims during Ramadan?