Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every year in the month of Ramadan, the majority of Muslims (Submitters) fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Those who are sick, pregnant, elderly, or traveling, can make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they can feed a needy person for every day missed.
Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or travelling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast. If one volunteers (more righteous works), it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew. (2:184)
Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or travelling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfil your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation. (2:185)
Fasting in Arabic is called, “Siyam” or “Saum,” which literally means ‘to be at rest.’ Contrary to what many people believe, fasting did not start with Muhammad. It started with Prophet Abraham like other practices of Islam. All the messengers and prophets who followed Abraham, including Moses and Jesus, observed these religious practices.
O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation. (2:183)
Fasting – Blessing in Disguise
The religious practices instituted by God, such as fasting, are blessings from God. If we can practice our religious duties the way we are supposed to, we get many benefits. Furthermore, these practices allow us to be more conscious of God in our lives.
Ramadan Varies Every Year
A lunar month is approximately 29.5 days, which is the time it takes for the moon to orbit the earth. Because a lunar month is, on the average, one day shorter than a solar month, a lunar year is 10-12 days shorter than a solar year. Therefore, the Month of Ramadan comes 10-12 days earlier each year. This way we get to fast when the days are very warm and long in summer as well as when they are cool and short in winter. This beautiful design by God is also a test for us to see if we will fast regardless of the length or temperature of the days of Ramadan.
What is an Islamic Day?
The Islamic day is the same as the Hebrew day. It begins at sunset and ends at the next sunset. In this system, the night comes before the day. Therefore, in some traditional Islamic countries, when they talk about, for instance, Friday night, they are actually referring to Thursday night because that night actually belongs to Friday according to their definition of a day.
For the year 2011, Insha-Allah (God Willing) Ramadan will start on July 31 or August 1.