RAMADAN OR RAMZAAN
Ramadan (also Ramadhan,
Ramadaan , Ramazan ) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from
eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn until sunset.
intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality. It is a
time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God (Allah) and to offer more prayer
than usual. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for
guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify
themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. As compared to the solar
calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving backwards about eleven days each
year depending on the moon. Muslims believe Ramadan to be an auspicious month
for the revelations of God to humankind, being the month in which the first
verses of the Quran were revealed to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.
The start of Ramadan:
HilÄl (the crescent) is typically a day (or
more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon indicates the
beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning
of Ramadan. There are disagreements each year however on when Ramadan starts.
This stems from the tradition to sight the moon with the naked eye and as such
there are differences for countries on opposite sides of the globe. More
recently however, some Muslims are leaning towards using astronomical
calculations to avoid this confusion.
Practices during Ramadan: Fasting
Ramadan is a time of reflecting,
believing and worshiping God. Muslims are expected to put more effort into
following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights
and sounds. Purity of both thoughts and actions is important. The act of
fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose
being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims
to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who
are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity (Zakat).
Muslims should start observing
the fasting ritual upon reaching the age of puberty, so long as they are
healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. The elderly, the
chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the
first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed
fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women if they believe it would be harmful to
them or the unborn baby, women during the period of their menstruation, and
women nursing their newborns.
A difference of opinion exists
among Islamic scholars as to whether this last group must make up the days they
miss at a later date, or feed poor people as a recompense for days missed.
While fasting is not considered compulsory in childhood, many children
endeavour to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life.
Lastly, those traveling (musaafir) are exempt, but must make up the days
Prayer and reading of the Quran:
In addition to
fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran. Some Muslims perform
the recitation of the entire Quran by means of special prayers, called Tarawih,
which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole
section of the Qur&prism;an (Juz&prism;, which is 1/30 of the Qur&prism;an) is recited.
Therefore the entire Quran would be completed at the end of the month.
Ramadan is also a
time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on
self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a
link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good
deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and
sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and
friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can
involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need. There is also a
social aspect involving the preparation of special foods and inviting people
In many Muslim
and non-Muslim countries with large Muslim populations, the faithful will abstain
from food from dawn to sunset. At sunset, the family will gather the
fast-breaking meal known as Iftar. The meal starts with the ritual eating of a date
— just as Prophet Muhammad was believed to have done. Then it&prism;s time for a
prayer to thank God followed by the meal. In many homes, this is a simple meal
of fruits and vegetables along with traditional Middle Eastern fare.
Over time, Iftar
has grown into banquets and small festivals. This is a time of fellowship with
families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger
spaces at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a
close down during evening prayers and the Iftar meal, but then re-open and stay
open for a good part of the night. Muslims can be seen shopping, eating,
spending time with their friends and family during the evening hours.
Charity is very
important in Islam. When walking down the streets of Cairo in Egypt at the time
of the sunset prayer (Maghrib), not only people who are giving out dates and
water are seen but several Mawaed Rahman as well. Mawaed Rahman are free public
eateries organized during the holy month of Ramadan. Mawaed Rahman are
organized by the wealthy, in order to offer the needy and the poor a warm meal
during iftar time. Normally, Mawaed Rahman are donated and financed by
individuals. The location of the Mawaed Rahman are essential, since areas where
a lot of people pass by are preferred, because that way the eateries can reach
out to a greater amount of hungry. One of the factors which hinders individuals
to host such eateries is the long bureaucratic work.
referred to as "the night of decree or measures", Laylat al-Qadr is considered the most holy night of the year. Muslims believe that Laylat
al-Qadr is the night in which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet
Muhammad. Also, it is believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during
the last 10 days of Ramadan, either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or
The holiday of
Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting
period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new
moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, per the
lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast; a special
celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-fitr);
everyone puts on their best, usually new, clothes; and communal prayers are
held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and
friends. The prayer is two Raka&prism;ah only, and it is obligatory (Wajib)
prayer as opposed to the compulsory (Fard) five daily prayers. Muslims
are expected to do this as an act of worship, and to thank God.
Eid ul-Fitr, often
abbreviated to Eid, is a
three-day Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month
of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fiá¹r means
"conclusion of the fast"; and so the holiday celebrates the
conclusion of the thirty days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month
of Ramadan. The first day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the
month Shawwal. Eedis (Eid gifts) are frequently given to children and immediate
relatives; it is also common in some cultures for children to be given small
sums of money (Eidis) by adult relatives or friends. Gifts are
exchanged. Friends and family gather to pray in congregation and for large
meals. Eid ul Fitr is also celebrated with luscious dishes, meant especially
for this day.
Scrumptious dishes are cooked and distributed among friends, families and
relatives on Eid ul Fitr. These delicacies are prepared while taking special
care of the techniques that were used to cook them ages ago.
Badami Gosht - It is
a spicy non-vegetarian dish, prepared especially to celebrate this festival of
Id with food. It smells heavenly and is extremely luscious in taste, thus loved
Badam Phirni - Is
a sweet dish cooked on the festival of Eid ul Fitr. Though phirni is loved by
all, it can be a real treat for those who love milk and milk products. Desserts
are the pick of every festive meal and Badam Phirni has a smooth, rich and
creamy taste, to live up to the flavor of the special occasion of Eid.
Nawabi Biryani -
Nawabi Biryani is a special non-vegetarian dish which is made by using liberal
amount of raisins, and is called ‘Nawabi’ Biryani precisely for this reason.
Haleem - Haleem
is a dish that is very popular amongst the Muslim community of North India, Pakistan
and Persia. It is especially prepared in the Muslim countries during Ramadan
and Moharram months and relished by the community members.
Mutton Korma - Mutton Korma is a rich and spicy meat curry. It’s a delicious non-vegetarian
dish and is popularly prepared on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr. Mutton Korma is
unique in taste and is popular throughout the Muslim World.
Seviyan - Seviyan is a
sweet dish that is made from vermicelli and milk.
Sheer Korma - Sheer korma is a traditional festive
breakfast of the Muslims. Sheer, literally means sweetened milk, while Korma is
made of dried dates. Sheer Korma is cooked as a dessert at the time of
celebrations. It is served to the family on the morning of Eid and to all the
guests who visit the house on the festival of Eid.
Sufi Malpua - Sufi
Malpua is a sweet dish made from milk, maida (flour) and sooji (rava).