Just yesterday, I was having a discussion with one of my friends about Ramazan, and I realized that there are so many things about it that many people are not aware of. So, here I come up with a brief insight into the various aspects of Ramazan.
Ramadan or Ramazan?
To begin with, a lot has been written about what is the correct pronunciation of the word. Some have even come up with theories of Saudi brand of Islam v/s Indian Islam. It is basically an Arabic word, and due to the absence of the exact phoneme in English for one of its letters, there are different pronunciations.
Ramadan or Ramazan or Ramadhan – call it whatever you like, it doesn’t really make any difference. The fact is that it is a month observed by 1.6 billion Muslims across the globe – Saudi, Indian, African, American and everyone else – in absolute uniformity.
There is a general misconception that Ramazan is the name of a certain festival. That’s not true. It is the name of a month in the Hijri calendar. Muslims across the globe follow the Hijri calendar which follows the lunar cycle, consisting of 354 or 355 days per year.
A typical month in this calendar begins with the sighting of the crescent moon, and Ramazan happens to be its ninth month. This is exactly the reason why we keep hearing things such as “Chand dikh gaya” (Moon has been sighted) or “Chand nahi dikha” (Moon has not been sighted).
However, the conclusion of Ramazan and the beginning of the tenth month, Shawwal marks Eid-ul-Fitr, which is the biggest festival of Muslims.
Why fast in Ramazan?
Why do Muslims fast in this month? Why not fast in any other month? What is so special about this month? The answer to all this is – Quran. It was in this month that the Quran was revealed unto Prophet Muhammad. So, in order to thank God for the guidance that he has bestowed, Muslims fast for the complete month.
What is fasting?
Fasting is to keep away from all kinds of eating, drinking and other sensual activities from dawn until sunset. While it is mandatory for every adult to observe fast for the complete month, there are certain exemptions – such as people who are sick, old aged, mentally challenged, pregnant women, suckling mothers, menstruating women, travelers, etc.
The primary objective of fasting is to develop self-restraint. Giving up the basic necessities of life such as food and water would provide a perfect opportunity to discipline the body and mind.
Most importantly, fasting is not just about being hungry and thirsty throughout the day. It’s about giving up everything that is bad, everything that is unlawful, and everything that might hurt others. Speaking lies, slandering, backbiting, abusing, quarrelling might make a fast void.
Suhur and Iftar
These are the two terms that we often hear during this month. Suhur is the pre-fast meal, which should be taken before the dawn and which indicates the beginning of the fast. Iftar is the meal that marks the breaking of the fast, which traditionally is done with dates and water.
This year in India, Suhur ends at a time between 4:00 am and 4:30 am, while the Iftar falls between 7:00 pm and 7:30 pm.
It is obligatory on Muslims to donate Zakat – a 2.5% of their Annual savings or cumulative wealth. Most people donate Zakat during Ramazan to the poor sections of the society so that they become self-sufficient and in turn become givers of charity in the subsequent years.
Be it at college, or workplace or in the neighborhood – it is important to understand the sensitivity surrounding Ramazan, so as to make it more accommodating and inclusive.
Here are a few tips that might help: