Ramdan, the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar, is considered as one of the holiest months of the year. Islam uses a lunar calendar - that is, each month begins with the sighting of the new moon. Because the lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar used elsewhere. For Muslims around the world Ramdan is a "month of blessing" marked by prayer, fasting, and charity.
It was in 610 A.D. when the prophet Muhammad was said to have received revelations from God that later became Islam’s holy book, the Quran (Koran). It is stated that during the month of Ramdan, Allah revealed the first verses of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. Around 610 A.D., the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to go out to the desert near Mecca (in today's Saudi Arabia) to think about faith, society and God.
In fact, Ramdan commemorates that part, of the Muslim year, when "the Qur'an was sent down as a guidance for the people" and also for the " judgment between the right and wrong". Another verse of the Quran states that it was revealed "on the night of determination," which Muslims generally observe on the night of 26-27 Ramdan called Shab- be Qadar (Lailatul Qadr). That is why at almost all mosques during Ramdan, the Quran is recited each night in prayers known as Tarawih. In this way, by the end of the month the complete scripture will have been recited.
The holy month begins with the sighting of the crescent moon on the evening following the new moon and lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the lunar cycle. According to the Quran, Muslims must see the New Moon with the naked eye before they can begin their fast. The practice has arisen that two witnesses should testify to this. It has become usual for Middle Eastern Arab countries to accept, with reservations, the verdict of Cairo. Should the New Moon prove to be invisible, then the month Sha'ban, immediately preceding Ramdan, will be reckoned as 30 days in length, and the fast will begin on the day following the last day of this month.
Fasting during the month of Ramdan, as laid down in the holy Quran is the fourth pillar of the faith. According to the Quran, this entire month is ordained for fasting and abstinence by all adult Muslims. Fasting begins at daybreak and ends at sunset, and during the day eating, drinking, and smoking are forbidden.
Muslims practice fasting, for the entire month of Ramdan. This means that they may eat or drink nothing, including water, while the sun is up as well as making a special effort to avoid sins. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars (duties) of Islam. As with other Islamic duties, all able Muslims take part in fasting from about age of twelve.
Fasting serves many purposes. While they are hungry and thirsty, Muslims are reminded of the suffering of the poor. Fasting is also an opportunity to practice self-control and to cleanse the body and mind. And in this most sacred month, fasting helps Muslims feel the peace that comes from spiritual devotion as well as kinship with fellow believers.
During Ramdan in the Muslim world, most restaurants are closed during the daylight hours. Families get up early for sehri, a meal eaten before the sun rises. After the sun sets, the fast is broken with a meal known as Iftar. Iftar usually begins with dates and sweet drinks that provide a quick energy boost. Iftar" literally means breakfast. It is a meal served at the end of the day during Ramdan, to break the fast. The month of Ramdan brings the families closer sharing the evening meal, paying visits to each other after sundown, giving alms to the poor and fondly remembering the ones who are no more. The fast is again resumed the next morning.
The holy month Ramdan ends with the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. Literally the "Festival of Breaking the Fast," Eid-ul-Fitr is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations (the other occurs after the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca). At Eid-ul-Fitr people dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give treats to children, and enjoy visits with friends and family.
A sense of generosity and gratitude colors these festivities. Although charity and good deeds are always important in Islam, they have special significance at the end of Ramdan. As the month draws to a close, Muslims are obligated to share their blessings by feeding the poor and making contributions to Mosques.
May Allah bestow all Muslims with the courage to complete the fast an all the human beins to adopt right path leading to the peace and prosperity to one and all.