Ramadhan: The basics you should know.
Eight days has already passed in the month of Ramadhan. Alhamdulillah, already God has blessed me so many times and my life has been really peaceful. Thus, I am really grateful to Allah, God. Last night at the Malay gathering to break the fast, someone gave a Khutbah (religious talk) about the deeper meaning of fasting. From what I understood, Ramadhan is the time to attain Taqwa, which is closeness to God and to be thankful to Allah.
Nonetheless, here are some basic things that I think you should know about Ramadhan:
- Ramadhan is one of the pillars of Islam and thus is it compulsory for Muslims to do.
- We fast from sunrise to sunset. Alhamdulillah, this year has been easy in New Zeland as we fast from around 5:50 am until around 5:15 pm. So we fast about 12 hours a day whereas places such as Norway fast for 20 hours a day.
- We are not allowed to eat any food or drink any beverages.
- We are not allowed to have anything come inside of our bodies. Thus we are not allowed to smoke, however, we are allowed to brush our teeth as it is makrooh (disliked but still permissible).
- The time before we fast for the day is called Suhoor and the time that we break our fast is called Iftar.
- There is an Islamic calendar where Ramadhan is the ninth month. Ramadhan starts when there is a moon sighted and it ends when the moon is sighted again. This month normally lasts for 29-30 days. After this month we do a prayer in the morning and we celebrate Eid.
- During Ramadhan, Muslims are obliged to pay zakat (charity) as it also one of the five pillars of Islam.
- The people excused from fasting are women for are menstruating, pregnant or breastfeeding and anyone who is chronically ill. However, the days you have missed, you need to pay back by fasting some other time before Ramadhan starts again in the following year.
- The month of Ramadhan is a time where Muslims have to improve their character where gossiping/ backbiting, lying and fighting or arguing are not allowed during this month.
- Laylat al-Qadar is one night during the last ten odd days of Ramadhan. During this night, the blessings and mercy of God are abundant where sins are forgiven and prayers are accepted. It is also the time when the annual decree or fate is revealed to the angels who also descend to the earth.
Previously, I mentioned that Ramadhan is a month where Muslims try to attain closeness with God. This can be done by praying extra prayers such as Taraweeh, reciting the Quran and the doing more dhikr (remembrance of God).
The time of Ramadhan humbles me and it really does remind me to be grateful. There are so many people who are starving with no food to eat and by fasting, I get a sense of what they would go through on a regular basis. If you are not in poverty or have food to eat, be thankful; there are billions of people that would love to be in your shoes right now. Poverty is evident and it is everywhere around the world, including New Zealand, where children are starving. As human beings, if you are able to help, you should help- even if it is one person you are helping or if you only have a couple of cents to spare. You can start helping by making sure that your neighbour has enough to eat, or you can donate money to the charity of your choice or you could even give a loaf of bread to someone begging in the streets. There is no need to give hundreds or even thousands, you just need the intention to help humanity.
Lastly, I wish my fellow Muslims a blessed and peaceful Ramadhan. And to all my fellow Muslims in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan who are suffering from the famine, I pray that Allah gives you mercy.
N.B: May Allah forgive me if I had said anything incorrect as I am not a Muslim scholar and just an ordinary Muslimmah.