10 Things to Know About Ramadan
By: Meral Abu-Jaser /Arab America Contributing Writer
There are many things that you probably know about Ramadan, but there is always something new to learn. Since the holy month is here, let us discover and educate ourselves about this time of year. Whether you are a Muslim or have Muslim friends, or just want to learn things that you probably did not know about Ramadan, get ready! In this article, I will share 10 things that might be new to you, or maybe you already were well informed. Either way, let’s review together.
1. Ramadan Is Always the Ninth Month of the Islamic Calendar
I guarantee you that you would only know this if you have actually done your research on it. Some Muslims do not know this either, so you are not alone. I know this for a fact because I did my own survey where I asked friends, family, and relatives – and none of them had the right answer. Now let us understand why each year Ramadan varies in date.
Ramadan is based on The Islamic calendar which is lunar, meaning each month begins with the new astronomical moon. As lunar months are shorter than solar, the Islamic calendar does not correspond with the Gregorian calendar followed in the Western world. This means Ramadan occurs around 10-11 days earlier every year.
However, if you follow the Islamic calendar, Ramadan would come in the same month every year. The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
2. You Are Exempt From Fasting During Ramadan Under These Conditions
Although Ramadan is the month of fasting and worship, some people cannot fast. For instance, young children, those who are ill, the elderly, pregnant women, women who breastfeed, women during menstruation, or those who are traveling are not required to fast. However, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or menstruating need to make up for the days they did not fast. The same rule goes for those who are traveling or who were ill and are now in better health.
3. You Can Pay Fidya Instead of Fasting
After you have read the second point on this list, you now should know that some people are exempt from fasting during Ramadan. However, if they are unable to make it up by the time the next Ramadan comes, then they can pay fidya. Paying a fidya is basically having to feed one person in need on each day that the person did not fast during Ramadan.
Therefore, feeding someone in need would replace the day that was missed. Thus, it would be counted as though that person fasted. The other option is to fast on normal days, as long as they are finished before the next Ramadan, unless there are circumstances that prevent one from fasting. In this case, paying a fidya would be a reasonable option.
4. Ramadan Improves Mental Wellness
When Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, they experience an enhancement in their mental and physical health. If fasting is done correctly, this would be true for all Muslims. I am not just talking from personal experience, but it has been proven in scientific studies. According to a report conducted by the NHS, “A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body,” said Oxford anesthetist Dr. Razeen Mahroof in the report.
Moreover, fasting during Ramadan also helps the digestive system to perform its functions to the fullest. When fasting for several hours (from sunrise until sunset) the body relaxes, and the digestion process also works to its fullest with no interruption from the human body.
5. Ramadan Brings People Together
During Ramadan, Muslims forgive each other. It is a month where everyone gets along and try their best to treat one another with respect and kindness. Families gather each day throughout the month to break their fast together. Usually, each relative takes turns inviting family members to their house until the end of Ramadan. There are usually so many invitations that most spend the month eating somewhere other than their own home. Things have changed a bit now with COVID restrictions, but many still find ways to break fast together using technology such as FaceTime and Zoom.
6. Ramadan Is Celebrated By 1.6 Billion Muslims
Yes! There are roughly 1.6 Billion of the world’s population who fast during the month of Ramadan. This study was conducted in 2020 by Statista. This includes Muslims from all regions, not just the Arab world, such as the United States, Indonesia, and Pakistan, to name a few which were included in the study.
7. Ramadan Tents
One of the favorite things found during this time of the year are Ramadan tents, which are formed outside and are open to the public, especially to those in need. These tents include multiple cuisines for mass consumption, all of which hits the cravings of those who fast during the month. The main reason for the tent is to let everyone feel a sense of belonging and community. They pitch the tents outside to welcome everyone to join in the feast.
8. Tarawih Prayer
As you may know, Muslims pray five times a day. Yet, for some during Ramadan the amount may differ. There is another prayer called “Tarawih.” This prayer is performed after the last prayer of the day, which is Isha. It usually lasts well over an hour in total, and mostly performed in the mosque with other congregants. Since praying Al-Tarawih is time-consuming, many read directly from the Qur’an while standing.
9. Those Who Fast Durang Ramadan have Two Joys
When fasting during Ramadan, the one who fasts experiences two joys: One is the joy of breaking the fast at sunset, while the other is knowing that God is satisfied with his fasting performance. This is stated in one Hadith as follows: “The fasting person has two joys: if he breaks his fast, and if his Lord finds joy in his fast.”
10. Everyone Who Fasts During Ramadan Should Pay Zakat
This is another good thing about Ramadan that not many know about. Before Ramadan ends you need to give zakat (charity) before Eid al-Fitr comes, or else your fasting is not accepted. This encourages people who can financially help people in need to give graciously. The amount of zakat that needs to be paid changes every Ramadan depending on the financial status of the community, as well as the individual who is giving.
In general, zakat is a form of almsgiving. It is treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax. Referring to the Quran, zakat is ranked second in the line of importance after prayer.
How Many Did You Know?
Now that you have finished reading the article, you should have a brief introduction about Ramadan. If you have Muslim friends, you know a little about their obligations, as well as their traditions during the holy month.
Out of the 10 on this list, how many did you already know? If you think there is something else that people need to know about Ramadan, share it with us in the comments!
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