It’s that blessed time of year again when Arabs celebrate the holy month of Ramadan in Middle East countries. However, maybe you’re new to the Arabic language and Arab culture and don’t really know what Ramadan’s all about. Well, don’t worry because in today’s post we’re going to explain a little about Islam’s holiest month. You’ll learn a little bit about the history of Ramadan, why Ramadan is celebrated and what is the structure of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It was in Ramadan that Allah, through the angel Gabriel, revealed the first verses of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, it’s also the month when Muslims devote themselves to cleansing their souls through self-examination, abstinence, and prayer.
What’s more, over 1.8 billion Muslims around the world fast during Ramadan. In fact, fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Faith in Islam. From dawn to dusk each of the thirty days of Ramadan, Muslims perform this required fasting.
So how do they manage to go the whole day without eating or drinking? Well, most Muslims wake up a little before sunset and the dawn prayer and eat what they call suhoor. It’s like having a really early breakfast before the sun comes up. It usually includes a lot of fruits and juices to help keep them hydrated during the day.
Still, Ramadan is not just fasting from food and drink. Muslims also refrain from smoking, having sex and other bad habits during the day, including anger and lying. Prophet Muhammad said: “Fasting is not keeping from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language.” In this way, the Muslim takes his whole being into account. For instance, the mouth is kept from lying and gossiping and the ears are kept from listening to bad language. As a result, this holy month is not just about fasting. It’s also that one should honor the Qur’an and think deeply about its message as well.
As you can see, in Ramadan, religion plays a vital part and that includes how it’s both observed and celebrated. In fact, there are more than 1.8 billion Muslims around the world who celebrate Ramadan every year. They observe this time of year through a special kind of worship meant just for this holy month. For instance, after the usual late-night prayer, Muslims stay at the mosque for a special Ramadan prayer called taraweeh. During this time, the imam also recites 1/30th of the Quran each night of the holy month. This way, Muslims will hear the whole Quran by the month’s end.
The first three days of Shawal – the month after Ramadan – is when Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Meaning the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”, Eid al-Fitr starts with a communal prayer after sunrise. The holiday’s focus is to give alms (zakat) to the poor and to the masjid (mosques). This is another one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is also required of all able Muslims. It is also a time when families and neighbors get together for a feast officially ending the fasting of Ramadan.
Of course, there is so much more to Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr than we can fit here. If you would like to more about these Arab holy days, Arab culture or would like to learn Arabic, visit our website. There you will find information on all that’s Arab.
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