What is Ramadan and What Does It Accomplish?

Ramadan is a month in which adult Muslims are obligated to fast, except those with valid excuses; and it is a month that creates healthier bodies, cleanses souls, and connects people to each other by creating a compassionate atmosphere between haves and have-nots of society. Fasting during Ramadan is an obligatory act for every adult Muslim who does not have legitimate reasons that can exempt him or her from fasting. The beginning and end of the month are determined by sighting the moon, and fasting hours are reliant on geographical locations. However, the duration of fasting hours is from pre-dawn to sunset. There are two meals served in Ramadan: the pre-dawn meal and after sunset meal(Iftar). And the month lasts between 29 and 30 days, depending on a moon-sighting methodology.

Ramadan comes once a year, and Allah (God) has ordered Muslims to fast for reasons that are both abstract and concrete. Observing this obligatory fasting cleanses people’s souls and brings them closer to their creator. Fasting entails abstention from food, drinks, and sexual relations. Moreover, fasting people should not engage in ill-mannered actions, such as fighting, cursing, or gossiping. All these restrictive actions are meant to cleanse the soul and connect it to its God. Fasting teaches people how to be more self-disciplined and resolute. Fasting is purification. It is discipline. Some individuals are not obligated to fast during Ramadan. Allah is merciful and knows his creatures. While every adult Muslim is to fast in Ramadan, there are exceptions. And those excepted from fasting in this month include individuals who are chronically ill, the elderly, travelling, pregnant, breastfeeding, or menstruating women.

Ramadan has health benefits. Fasting enables the body to rest from continuous eating and digestion. Therefore, those who need to lose weight can shed some weight and make cholesterol levels fall, too, making diabetes and blood pressure illnesses under control. 

Ramadan reminds fasting people of the suffering of the less fortunate ones to empathize with them and help them. Allah urges people to spend generously on those in need, but spending during Ramadan is multiplied and tripled. Charity has great rewards, and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) emphasized it and urged it on many occasions. So Muslims are urged to donate to charities and feed the hungry.

Every household member has to pay something in cash or in kind when the month finishes. This giving is called Zakat al-Fitr;  it is a charity given to the poor at the end of the fasting. Because of the  Zakat al-Fitr, a passionate, strong bond is built between the haves and have-nots of society. Traditions that take place throughout Ramadan are increased prayers and Qur’an recitation. It is noteworthy to mention that Allah revealed the Qur’an to his prophet in Ramadan. These prayers and recitations are intended to purify and tame the soul and glorify its creator.

Ramadan rids souls of sins, helps bodies get healthier, and makes people care for each other. 

People intending to fast this 2018 year’s Ramadan are gearing up for its arrival, which will be on either May 15 or May 16, depending on the sighting of the moon. After many days of patience and perseverance, there will joy. Families and friends will get together to celebrate the end of Ramadan, which will be on the 14th of June. The end of Ramadan is called “Eid al-Fitr” and it is a big celebratory day. “Eid Mubarak” is a common greeting exchanged on that day.