What is Ramadan?

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Good morning from Cambridge, Massachusetts,

Today I thought it would be interesting to explore the question on everyone’s mind – what is Ramadan? Is there more to it than fasting? Why do Muslims even fast at all?

Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, which is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, the month that is used to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed as well as Mohammed’s ascension to the lowest heaven. The observance of Ramadan or sawm is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are five basic acts in Islam that are considered mandatory by believers. During this month, Muslims fasting (abstain from drinking water and eating food) between the hours of sunrise and sundown.Fasting is not obligatory for several groups of people for whom it would be problematic and damaging to one’s health. For example, diabetics and nursing or pregnant women are not obligated to fast.

One of the holiest nights of Ramadan, and arguably one of the holiest nights in Islam is called Laylat al Qadr. It was on this night that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet. It is on this night that Muslims believe that all prayers are answered, and sins are forgiven.

Food and drink are not the only things that Muslims abstain from while fasting. They also refrain from having sexual intercourse, smoking and doing drugs. Furthermore, Muslims who are fasting should not indulge in obscene speech,  falsehood in speech or action and slander.

Ramadan is a month of spiritual growth, abstinence, and fostering feelings of empathy for those who do not have access to food and drink due to poverty or other circumstances.

 

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