Ramadan Kareem! Ramadan 2022 is upon us, and with it another opportunity for reflection and spiritual growth. For many of us, alhamdulillah, this is not our first holy month. For others, it may be just that! For everyone, however, Ramadan is a time with a lot to get used to every year. As a result, we may lose track of just why we’re fasting, reading more Qur’an, and generally taking things slower. We know these are good things to do, and mandated for many Muslims. Yet, off the top of your head, do you know the exact reason we’re here? Be it a reminder for existing Muslims, or a helpful guide for non-Muslims, we at Daleel have compiled a simple guide to Ramadan. The who, what, where, when, and why of the holiest month in Islam!
WHO Fasts During Ramadan?
At first glance, this may seem like an obvious question. Muslims fast, of course. However, there are many exceptions to keep in mind. For children who have not yet reached adolescence, fasting is not fardh, or compulsory. For menstruating women, the elderly, and people living with disabilities and/or illness that would make fasting difficult, keeping every fast during Ramadan is also not fardh. Some make up for missed fasts after the holy month. Others are exempt entirely, and donate to feed the needy in place of fasting. Thus, not every Muslim fasts at the same time!
WHAT Does Fasting Entail?
Fasting is, of course, the practice of abstaining from food and water for a set period of time. For Muslims, that is between the Fajr prayer shortly before sunrise and the Maghrib prayer at sunset. However, there is more to Ramadan fasting than not eating or drinking. During the fast, we Muslims must also clear our minds. Fasting in the holy month means abstinence from sexual activity with their spouses, impure thoughts, negative emotions, and even complaining and swearing. Many of these things are natural occurrences, so curbing them becomes an exercise in self-control — one of the main lessons of Ramadan.
WHERE Does Fasting Take Place?
Again, this may seem like an unnecessary question. Ramadan happens at the same time everywhere across the world! As a result, however, not every fast is the same. Different time zones have fasts of differing lengths. This year, New Zealand, Argentina, and South Africa are all tied for the shortest fast at 11-12 hours. Important to know when thinking of Ramadan in a wider context (and when making last-minute travel plans!).
WHEN Does Ramadan Happen?
Ramadan, like every Islamic month, follows the lunar calendar. As a result, the holy month does not occur at the same point in the Gregorian calendar every year. Ramadan moves forward roughly ten days in the Western calendar every year. The holy month has been a summer occasion for the past decade or so, and is now transitioning back to winter for the next long while. Shorter fasts ahead!
WHY Do We Fast In Ramadan?
Put simply, Muslims fast during Ramadan to grow closer to Allah. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, meaning Allah has ordained it for us during the month of Ramadan. By practicing self-restraint and introspection, we are better able to attain a state of piety. This in turn allows us to reap the benefits of Laylat-ul-Qadr, the Night of Power, which falls during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Fasting, then, is the start of a blessed circle for Muslims around the world.
And those are the basics of Ramadan! We hope you learned (or re-learned) something from this list. If you liked it, please do share this post with those who may benefit from it. For more, keep your eyes on the Daleel Islamic Association blog!