Ramadan Kareem once again to all our American University of Sharjah community. It is now a little over a week now since the Holy Month of Ramadan started and it looks like everyone is kind of adjusted already to the Ramadan routine.
We have already seen a number of Ramadan events on our campus, such as the “Quran Recitation Competition” organized by Sharjah Islamic Bank in partnership with AUS Islamic Club held on Saturday, July 13 as well as 'Belad Al Sham Iftar', the Multicultural Iftar organized by several AUS cultural clubs held on Sunday, July 14.
Now, to some of our new non-Muslim members of the AUS community who are just going through the motions, keenly observing the Do’s and the Don’ts, and to everybody else who might be curious as to what exactly Ramadan is, this blog is for you to help you understand Ramadan a little bit more. It may not cover everything but it is a brief overview about Ramadan to highlight several key and important facts about this Holy Month.
Ramadan is a special month of fasting, repentance, increased prayers and increased charity and generosity for Muslims. It is the ninth month of the Hijri (Islamic Calendar) and it begins with the sighting of the new moon. During Ramadan, fasting continues until the next new moon is sighted or a maximum of 30 days. The start and the end of Ramadan may differ from place to place depending on confirmed sightings of the new moon. This holy month ends with the festival of Eid Al-Fitr which is a day of celebration and gratitude.
The word Ramadan stems from the Arabic word “Ar-Ramad” which means ‘intense heat, dryness or scorched ground and it is the month in which the Qur’an, the Holy book of Islam, was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
Ramadan is very important to Muslims as it provides an opportunity for Muslims to fulfil Siyam, or fasting, which is one of the five pillars of Islam*. Fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan is obligatory to all adult Muslims except for those who are exempt. Exemption from fasting is granted for those who are sick; people who are taking medicines; menstruating, pregnant and nursing women; long distance travellers and older people who cannot keep the fast. If for any of these or other reasons adult Muslims cannot fast during Ramadan, they can either make up the fast (fast on a later date) or they can feed the poor for the number of days they did not fast.
Fasting during Ramadan begins at the crack of dawn and ends at sunset. The actual fasting time can vary from 10 to 17 hours depending on the location and the season.
Another important thing to note is that the Hijri Calendar uses a lunar cycle. A Lunar Calendar has 12 months in a year and 354 days making it 11 days shorter than the common Gregorian Calendar year or 12 days shorter than a leap Gregorian Calendar year. Therefore Ramadan moves back 11 days every common year and 12 days in leap years.
A typical Ramadan fasting day for Muslim starts with Suhoor which is a light meal before dawn and before the first prayer of the day; then Fasting during the day; then Iftar which is the breaking of the fast at sunset, this coincides with the Maghrib or evening prayer; then there is Ziarat, the social gatherings like visiting relatives and sharing food with neighbours, friends and the poor; then there is Tarawih, optional prayers in the evening immediately after the fifth prayer; all along Muslims can do Qira’at which is the optional reading of the Holy Qur’an during free times and finally Qiam which is the optional late night prayers observed especially during the last ten days of Ramadan.
Ramadan Kareem and enjoy the rest of the Holy Month.
* The other pillars of Islam are:-
1. Shahadah which is the declaration of Faith
2. Salah which is prayer, Muslims pray five times a day
3. Zakat which is purification of wealth by sharing at least 2.5% of your annual wealth with the poor and
4. Hajj which is Pilgrimage to Makkah, required at least once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able.
For more information about Ramadan visit http://www.ramadan.com.au/ramadan-faq/1-ramadan-faq-for-non-muslims
Do you have anything to add to this brief overview about Ramadan?Do you have great Ramadan stories you want to share? Do you have any advice that would help our community observe Ramadan better? Do share your thoughts by commenting on this blog.
Gureni Lukwaro is a Writer, Editor and Social Media Manager at the American University of Sharjah.