Its eighth month of Islamic lunar calendar – Ramzan (Ramadan?) now. Before we set out to know what this month is about, let’s settle on what to call it. Arabic is a weird language with four different phonetics of “Z” – which Urdu also adopts. First one is “Z” spoken after the tip of the tongue is touched with the teeth (the phonetic that famous lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar universally speaks). Second is Simple “Z”. Third one comes out after the tongue is touched with palate (upper ceiling of the inner mouth) which makes the sound which is a hybrid between ‘d’ and ‘z’, the one in Rama(z/d)an. And the last one is spoken after rounding off your tongue. There are several other letters with similar rules. After all this, Urdu speakers mostly settle on using the syllables simply. That’s where all the illogical controversy begins whether to write and speak Ramzan or Ramadan. As for me I prefer Ramzaan.
So, Ramzaan is a month in which Muslims around the world fast. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islamic faith which is obligatory on mature Muslims. The fast typically starts from Dawn and end at Dusk during which people abstain from eating, drinking, sex and any violent activities (not that violence is permitted at other occasions). Muslims believe fasting helps in creating universal brotherhood by standing in solidarity with those who can’t afford to eat. Some people are exempted from fast which includes children, old people, menstruating women, pregnant and breastfeeding women, travelers, and unhealthy people besides others. Those who have deliberately skipped a fast without any proper reason are morally required to free a slave or feed 40 beggars.
However obligatory fasting has been made on Muslims, there are some people whose fast remains unaccepted even if they go for it. Those people include: one who is addicted to alcohol, one who doesn’t listen to parents, one who fights with the relatives and the one who has hatred for someone in his heart.
Besides fasting, there are two charities that Muslims usually do in Ramzaan known as Zakat-al- Maal and Zakat-al-Fitr. This charity is another among pillars of Islam.
Zakat-al-Mal (Charity of Wealth) is simply called Zakat in India. This has to be paid by those Muslims who have saved 85 grams of gold or equivalent sum of money or liquid property – collected over a period of a year. The individual who’s doing this charity must be free of all the liabilities (debts). The sum supposed to be paid as charity is 2.5% of the savings. The charity can be given confidentially to eight kind of people.
Zakat-al-fitr is simply known as Fitrah in India which has to be compulsorily given to the poors before Eid which marks the end of Ramzaan. This is obligatory to every person capable of arranging food and in case of children, this will be paid by the guardians. The amount of charity is around 3 Kgs of the staple food that one eats or the equivalent cash of it.
Month of Mercy and Compassion
Muslims believe this month to be most blessed of months and it is also called the Month of mercy and compassion. So, this month should be upheld for the humanist spirit that it carries in the heart of believers instead of questioning the loyalty of believers just because they call Ramzaan with different syllables.
Hanzala Bin Aman is a humanist, a wannabe writer and an occasional poet.