Ramadan, which is also called Ramzan, is observed by Muslims all around the world as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, as per the Islamic belief. The festivities occur on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the annual ceremony is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam. The conclusion of the ritual is based on the visual sighting of the crescent moon.
On the occasion of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk as it is considered a holy period. This year, Ramadan will begin on Wednesday, the evening of May 16, and will go on till Thursday, the evening of June 14.
The word ‘Ramadan’ comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ that means dryness or scorching heat. The fasting that is done during the holy month is fard (compulsory) for adult Muslims but there are certain exceptions. If a person is suffering from illness, is travelling, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, chronically ill, menstruating or elderly, then they can be absolved from keeping the fast. However, the fast was not obligatory (wājib) earlier. It was made so during the month of Sha’ban, in the second year after the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina.
Muslims, who observe the fast, are expected to refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations. Moreover, they are also instructed to avoid sinful behaviour such as insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, which may negate the reward of fasting. According to popular belief, it is believed that the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan, and it has been acknowledged as the “best of times”. As per hadith, all holy scriptures were sent down on Laylat al-Qadr (The night of Power) during the same month.
The purpose of the fast is to bring the faithful devotees closer to God and to remind them of the sufferings of those who are less fortunate. According to the holy book of Quran, during the month of Ramzan, Muslims are supposed to feed the hungry and donate to charities. It is also believed that fasting during the Ramadan month is to practice self-restraint. As there are certain restrictions during the month, it is seen as a way to detoxify both physically and spiritually.
This is done by refraining from impulses such as consuming coffee, smoking, midday snacking and more. During the Ramadan month, Muslims dress up more conservatively and spend more time at the mosque as they are expected to detach from worldly pleasures and focus on prayers. The pre-fast meals are taken before dawn and are referred to as suhoor and the post-fast breaking feasts, which is after sunset, is called iftar.