Thursday, 19 July 2012

Ramadan 101

As promised here's a quick rundown and some basic's about the moth of Ramadan:

Just like the Gregorian calendar (that is the name of the calendar we follow, right?), the Islamic calendar has 12 months which are shown in the picture below:

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar.  Muharram is the first month, like January, and Dhul-Hijjah is the last, like December.

However, the Islamic months don't exactly happen at the same time as the regular months in the Gregorian calendar.  If that was the case, Ramadan would always fall in September.  This is because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, so there are 12 lunar months consisting of roughly 354/5 days in a year, as opposed to 365 days a year in the Gregorian calendar.
This leads to a drift of about 10/11 days, so that's why the Islamic calendar is out of synch with the Gregorian calendar.  However, muslim countries synch the calendar with the Gregorian calendar so that muslims all over the world can work out when they can observe the annual fast during Ramadan.

So why do muslims fast in Ramadan?

In the Qur'an it says;

"The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful." (Chapter 2, 185)

So basically;

  • This is the month that the Holy Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), so is basically considered to be the most scared of the lunar months.
  • So we fast in order to meditate, and spiritually contemplate and connect with God, His holy book (the Qur'an) and the followings of the Prophet Mohammed. (this in more detail in a moment)
  • If you are sick, ill, or travelling, you are not permitted to fast as it would be hard for you to do (Also if you are pregnant (obvs) and for ladies when you are on you period), but you are expected to make up for any fasts that you have missed before the next Ramadan.

What happens during Ramadan?

Ramadan begins when the crescent moon is witnessed by two or more people (usually people are hired to observe the sky).  In the UK, this is very difficult, as it's pretty cloudy most of the time and so is pretty hard to sight the moon, even with high tech astronomy equipment etc. So generally, the hadith (traditions of the Prophet Mohammed) state that you should follow the nearest Muslim country, which for us in the UK is Morocco, or Saudi Arabia, as that's where the holiest of holies, the Kabbah or Qibla is.
So our mosque is following Saudi, so we begin fasting tomorrow.
Similarly, Eid ul-Fitr is the celebration that Ramadan is over, so is basically a celebration that we can eat again! Whoop!  Ramadan is usually 29/30 days, so Eid day also dependant on the siting of the crescent moon.


or Sawm in arabic, Rozeh in urdu/punjabi is basically where you do not eat food or drink water from sunrise till sunset for the whole month of Ramadan.  So you don't fast for 30 days straight, you eat food every night, but you do not eat or drink during sunlight basically.  Sort of like a vampire....but not really.

One of the main reasons for fasting is to remind ourselves to be humble, and put ourselves into the shoes of others less fortunate, who go starving for longer then just a day.  It forces us to remind ourselves of how lucky we are to live the lives that we do live, and basically be thankful for what we have.

But Fasting is not just about abstaining from food and drink, it's about much more than that.
Food and water just represent the worldly things that we are to abstain from.  The picture below outlines what the do's and don'ts while fasting are;

Ramadan is considered the most sacred month as the Holy Qur'an was revealed during this month, so things like arguing, backbiting, gossiping and other bad things are to be avoided or stopped, as any good deed during this month is multiplied countless times, but also any bad deed is also multiplied.

Also doing things like listening to music, watching tv, playing games etc. are to be avoided, as they distract you from meditating and becoming in a spiritual state.  

Fasting aims to direct the heart away from worldly activities.  It's purpose is to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm, whilst in the mean time is also teaches us self-discipline and self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate.

So it's basically a physical and spiritual detox!

I think I shall leave this post as it is for now.
There is so much more to tell you about fasting and Ramadan, but if I carry on you'll get bored, so I'll break it up into smaller posts during Ramadan. 

Seeing as I'll probably be sleeping for most of the day and staying at home, I'll hopefully blog more frequently :D 

Like I said before, Any questions, feel free to ask, and I shall hopefully answer them for you in the next post!

Hope this was informative for anyone who didn't know about Ramadan. 

NellieVaughn asked:

"I was just going to ask if you fast for the entire month, but then I saw that someone just as much of a dummy as I am asked first."

You're not a dummy! I re-read what I wrote and didn't make it very clear, sorry Nellie! (I've been doing that a lot lately.  Like I say something, but don't explain it very clearly as I already have kinda talked it through with myself in my head, and forget that I haven't actually verbalised or written it down!! so my bad)

What I meant was, the girl who asked me thought that in Ramadan you eat nothing for 30 days straight, so I explained that we eat everyday, but just at sunset! Sorry for my confuzzeling statement!



  1. Well the whole thing does make a lot more sense now :) I also wasn't aware that Ramadan was the actual name of the month, and that there was an Islamic calender. I think if it's just not eating during the daylight hours, even someone like myself could do it. Abstaining from pointless activities would be a lot harder than not eating for me really :)

    1. Yaay glad it could clarify some things!

  2. I'm Roman Catholic, and this reminds me a lot of how we celebrate Lent, where we are supposed to fast and pray, and not eat meat on certain days, and all that jazz. Thank you for your explanation. I understand about it a little better now.

    1. Yeah some of my Christian friends would tell me about Lent, where you give up something for a month as well? Like one of them gave up chocolate, and another one fries (they failed miserably though!)

  3. That's awesome, thanks for the rundown. I didn't know the word Ramadan was the name of the actual month, interesting. I hadn't thought of it as a "detox" either.

    1. Yeaahhh, spiritual and physical detox :D

  4. Thank you :) This was very interesting! I was under the impression that you eat throughout the night during Ramadan - is this correct? Or just one meal at sunset?

    I believe that fasting can be very helpful... I have never done it - but all cultures and religions seem to observe fasts at one time or another.

    1. You should try it sometime! maybe try a fast in ramada when it falls in winter, so the fast is not that long. This is honestly my favourite time of the month!

  5. A wonderful guide... Hopefully this will raise understanding amongst non Muslims, and engender more respect for this holiest of months... MashAllah.

  6. II have a few friends who are Muslim and this participate in the Ramadan. It's one of the better religious "holidays", I'll say. Very noble as well.

    1. Yeah it is very noble when I think about it :D Thanks!

  7. I think this would be a beautiful and enlightening journey for all to embark on. I read your post and thought, "I should do that." Much can be learned in one month if it is spent in meditation. But then, I read the part about limiting caffeine. I drink a lot of water, so I should be fine, even with all the caffeine I drink, right? I just couldn't give up coffee. I just quit smoking, and it's all I have.

    1. You should try sometime! If you have a free weekend where you haven't got much planned, try fasting for a day! I absolutely love this month!

  8. I work with a muslim lady and she is trying to survive and work without food and water. My job role requries constant water so I dont think I will be converting anytime soon

  9. ahhh so interesting, gr8 month of Ramadan, May Allah Taalah shower his countless blessings on you & your family Ameen :)