What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered a Holy month by Muslims across the globe. Muslims endure a month of daily fasting in order to honor the first time the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him), according to Islamic belief. This month lasts 29–30 days based on the sightings of the crescent moon.
This year, Ramadan begins on June 6 and lasts until July 5. We celebrate the end of Ramadan with the religious holiday Eid al-Fitr (or just Eid).
What exactly is fasting?
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which is a basic framework of the Muslim life. Fasting is fardh, or mandatory, for all adult Muslims except those who are elderly, ill, traveling, pregnant, breastfeeding, or on their period.
The daily fast is done from dawn until sunset and involves giving up all food, drink (yes, even water), smoking, and having sexual relations. We usually wake up early in the morning before sunrise for suhoor, the morning meal, and break our fast with dates and water sharp at sunset, called iftar. Basically, we just have an extra early and filling breakfast, skip lunch and snacks, and have a normal dinner. Don’t worry, you can still have your midnight ice cream runs.
All you do is fast?
In this month, Muslims pray extra, read significantly more Quran, refrain from sinning and give up bad habits like backbiting, fighting, gossiping, lying, and insulting others which may nullify the fast. These bad habits also include wasting time, such as binge watching Netflix (I am guilty as charged), excessive internet browsing, when we can be putting that time to good use like ibadah (acts of worshipping God), spending time with friends and family, engaging in a hobby, or work.
Since we give up so much during this month, it gives us a great sense of self-control. You can’t always get what you want in life, and that is the reality. Our extreme diet in Ramadan helps us learn to not overeat later on, taking us one step closer to leading a healthy and fit lifestyle.
We believe that during this month, the gates of Hell are closed with Satan chained up. This means that all the sins you commit are based on what your ego and subconscious force you to do, and the devil plays no role . This helps us assess what problems we have that we need to work on.
Muslim woman reflecting as she gazes at the sky
The idea is that if we give up our bad habits during this month, it is easier to continue this in our normal life after Ramadan ends. After all, it takes 21 days to break a habit, and Ramadan gives you 29.
Why do we do all this?
The fasting, extra prayer, and zakat are meant to purify the body and spirit and bring the
believers closer to God. It just shows how much we are willing to give up for God, and allows us to see what it feels like to be poor (only the food and hard work part). All of this is done with good intent, and hopefully it will help us find out what character or personality issues we have, how to improve them, and help us become more productive and optimistic humans.
To my fellow Muslims:
May Allah make is easy for us to build on our characters, spend our time productively, achieve our goals, and fast. May Allah bless all the Muslims across the globe, forgive our sins and strengthen our imaan. Ameen!
5 Tips to Succeed This Ramadan
1. Wake up to have suhoor. It’s a Sunnah and empty stomach= grumpy muslim. You need all your strength for maximum ibadah.
2. Plan your Ramadan days (and life) around salah times, not the other way round!
3. Block at least on hour for Quran each day and one hour for dhikr.
4.Choose 3 important tasks you want to achieve the next day.
5. The most powerful times to make dua are in the last-third of the night and just before Maghrib. The key is to be sincere in your prayers and have trust in Allah that your wishes will come true.