What Is Ramadan?

By: Salman Said

Image taken from: (A view of Mecca from the Mountain of Hira) https://photos.com/featured/mecca-city-view-from-hira-cave-at-night-shaifulzamri.html

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, begins on the first sight of the crescent moon, and lasts until the end of the moon cycle. It’s the month in which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Gabriel; from Allah, and in the mountains of Hira. Previously illiterate, Prophet Muhammad was given the knowledge of the Quran through Gabriel; he in turn messaged it to the people and it was consecrated for thousands of years; unaltered from that day.

Needless to say, the month isn’t about the moon or even fasting, but is about achieving Taqwa. Taqwa is a concept that means consciousness of Allah. During the month we fast in order to become more pious and restrain ourselves from all substances and temptations. During Ramadan we receive more Thawab or reward in our good deeds; and more harm in our bad deeds. This is why we try avoiding anything Haram (Sinful). 

Reading the Quran, giving charity and changing ourselves for the better are all things we do during this month. It’s the month of self-reflection and change. Controlling our urges during this month becomes significantly easier, and as we fast we see things that used to make us fall into our bad habits go away. Many use this month to quit bad habits like smoking, or even drug use, for the sake of Allah; in turn Allah makes it easier. 

In Islam, the most major sin is Shirk or the association of things with God. This is a topic that is brought up in the Holy Quran hundreds of times. Polytheism, or Association to the One Maker (Allah), is something that is strictly forbidden in Islam and those who do so aren’t considered Muslims. 

Needless to say, Shirk or Blasphemy is something Muslims avoid especially during this month, since it ruins all Taqwa and rewards from our fasts. Not praying, eating or drinking; menstrual cycles, sickness and drugs all break our fast. It’s important we stay away from these things while fasting. Cursing, fighting, holding grudges or disrespecting our parents all lower our “Hasanat” or our reward. 

In the last 10 days of Ramadan it’s the most important because of Laylatul Qadr. Laylatul Qadr or “The Night Of Power, Significance or Decree” (Qadr has many different meanings). It’s the most important night of the year and said to be worth more in reward than thousands of months. During the “Night of Significance”, the angel Gabriel comes down from the heavens as well as all the other angels. 

All we know is that the “Night of Power” is in the last 10 nights. The consensus of scholars is that the night falls on an odd number (21, 23, 25, 27 , and the 29th Night of Ramadan will hold Laylatul Qadr). Islamic scholars say it’s very likely though that the night is on the 27th, but only Allah knows. During the nights we should make and say prayers; ask for forgiveness, and make our wishes. It’s more likely that our prayers will be answered on that night if we fast for the rest of the month.

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