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What is The Month of Ramadhan?

The Holy Month of Ramadhan, which begins after the crescent of the new moon is spotted, is one of the most sacred Islamic observances because it marks the month in which Allah revealed the Holy Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), bringing with it all the glory. This is the month in which the doors of heavens are kept open, doors of hell are closed and Satan is kept in chains.

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Abstaining from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse between dawn and dusk is simply the means to attain the spiritual experience, but it is certainly not the ends. Each Ramadhan brings new insights and meanings for the faithful.

The main purpose of fasting is described in the Qur'an as "so that you may attain taqwa or God-consciousness". Fasting is thus yet another instrument for bringing us closer to our natural state, our state of fitrah and for cleansing this state from the dross of any disobedience and corruption.

Ramadhan is a month of heightened devotion. In it, Salaat is performed with greater intensity. It is a period of intense reflection and devotion, seeking guidance and forgiveness, and reading the Qur'an. Ramadhan is a great opportunity to get closer to the blessed guidance of the Qur'an which was revealed in this month. Ramadhan is also called the month of the Qur'an.

The month of Ramadhan is an opportunity to develop qualities of endurance and self-restraint, to control anger and a fiery or malicious tongue.

Ramadhan is a time to awaken compassion and solidarity with others and in particular with the poor. We are urged to be more liberal in giving during Ramadhan and are required at the end of fasting to give Zakat al Fitr, an amount to enable all to share in the spirit of warmth, affection and brotherhood.

Ramadhan is above all an opportunity to reorient oneself to the Creator and the natural path of goodness and God-consciousness.

Fasting has long been revered as a path to holiness among many of the world's religions. But the practice is not as widespread as it once was, except among Muslims, who regard fasting (siyam) as a pillar of faith. For Muslims, Ramadhan isn't considered a hardship, but a time of charity and fellowship, so revered that even those most lax in their faith are observant.

Jews and Christians share similar beliefs. For instance, the Jewish fast day of Yom Kippur is a time of solemnity as well as joy. Fasting is considered part of the process of atonement.

The heyday for fasting among Christians was the Middle Ages. In its extreme form, saints such as Catherine of Siena and Clare of Assisi fasted to near starvation and often flogged themselves to gain control over carnal desires and induce mystical visions.

Fasting is not obligated for the reason of instigating hunger so that other desires are suppressed. Rather, fasting should make the believer closer to Allah (swt) and hence it becomes easier for him to abstain from committing the Haram.

Here, we must note, any divine rule is associated with some effort or hardship. And some obligations require more hardship than others. For example, Jihad requires more effort and energy than fasting. But the hardship itself is not a reason for the legislation of the obligation. However, Allah (swt) will reward man according how much effort and energy he puts into the fulfilling of the divine rule.

As for the fasting, it requires patience and endurance. Allah (swt) declared:
"O you who believe! be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful." (Qur'an 3:200)
The evening of the 23rd day of the month marks the most special day of the year for believers as Laylat-al-Qadr (the Night of Decree) is observed. It is believed that on this night Prophet Muhammad first received the revelation of the Holy Quran. Any prayer or deed is returned manifold and all sins are forgiven.


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