‘O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil.
(The Holy Quran 2:183)
Ramadan, the ninth month of the holy Islamic calendar, is the time of the year when Muslims around the world observe fast from dawn to dusk. A single sip of water is enough to invalidate the fast. Ramadan (also referred to as Ramzan or Ramadhan), is considered as a period of fasting, prayer, charity and self-accountability. Along with serving as a means for deeper self- scrutiny, fasting represents one of the five pillars of Islam, a set of practices every Muslim must follow.
Fasting in the holy month of Ramadan
Fasting in Islam does not just merely consist of refraining from eating and drinking, but from every kind of selfish desire. The fast is not merely of the body, but essentially that of the spirit as well as it involves perseverance, patience and willful surrender to the Almighty. The physical fast is merely a symbol of the real, inner fast, intended to bring the faithful closer to God. Ramadan is a time to detach from worldly pleasures and focus on one's inner self.
Ramadhan is not simply about fasting; it also entails regular recitation of Quran by the faithful, taking the Taraweeh prayers, Zakat (showing generosity towards the poor - a wealth purifying tax), I’tekaf or Seclusion (faithful in I’tekaf spend their time in various forms of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah), doing extra salah, recitation and study of the Quran, study of the Hadith), Sadaqat al-Fitr (help extended to the poor) and finally Eid-al-FItr (the end of the fasting month is celebrated on the first of Shawwal). Some also perform Umrah or minor Hajj during the holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan background - Information about Ramadan
A prominent Islamic scholar has very aptly described Ramadan in the following words:
“Fasting is not just the state of remaining hungry and thirsty. Its nature and effect can only be discovered by experience. The human makeup is such that the less food is consumed the greater is the purification of the soul and the development of the powers of inner vision. God’s purpose is that you should reduce one kind of food (physical) and increase the other kind (spiritual). The person fasting must remember that the aim is not simply to remain hungry; he should be engrossed in the remembrance of God so as to attain severance from worldly desires. Those who truly fast for the sake of attaining to God, and not merely as a custom, should be absorbed in the praise and glorification of God, and in meditating upon His Unity.”