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Why Do Muslims Fast During Ramadan

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Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan? A guide to the holy month

Ramadan is the ninth and most sacred month of the Islamic calendar. It is a time when Muslims around the world abstain from food, drink, and sexual activity from dawn to dusk, as an act of worship and obedience to Allah. But what is the significance of Ramadan and why do Muslims fast during it? Here are some answers to these common questions.

The history of Ramadan

Ramadan commemorates the month when the first verses of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, were revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the angel Jibril (Gabriel) in 610 CE. This event is known as Laylat al-Qadr, or the Night of Power, and is believed to be one of the most blessed nights in Islam. Muslims seek to increase their devotion, prayers, and good deeds during this night, which falls in the last ten days of Ramadan.

The Qur’an states that fasting was prescribed for Muslims as it was for those before them, as a way of attaining taqwa, or God-consciousness. Fasting is also one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the declaration of faith, prayer, charity, and pilgrimage. Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for all adult Muslims who are physically and mentally capable, except for those who are ill, pregnant, breastfeeding, menstruating, travelling, or elderly.

The benefits of fasting

Fasting during Ramadan is not only a physical discipline, but also a spiritual one. It is a means of purifying the body and soul, strengthening one’s faith, and expressing gratitude to Allah for His blessings. Fasting also fosters empathy and compassion for those who are less fortunate, and encourages Muslims to share their wealth and food with the needy. Fasting also helps Muslims to develop self-control, patience, and resilience in the face of hardships and temptations.

The rituals of fasting

Fasting during Ramadan begins at dawn, when Muslims eat a pre-dawn meal called suhoor, which provides them with energy and hydration for the day ahead. They then perform the first of the five daily prayers, called fajr. Fasting ends at sunset, when Muslims break their fast with a meal called iftar, which usually consists of dates, water, and other delicacies. They then perform the fourth prayer of the day, called maghrib. After iftar, Muslims may attend special nightly prayers at the mosque or at home, called taraweeh, where they recite and listen to portions of the Qur’an.

Muslims also observe other acts of worship during Ramadan, such as reading the entire Qur’an, giving extra charity (sadaqah), performing voluntary prayers (nawafil), seeking forgiveness (istighfar), and making supplications (dua). Some Muslims also perform a spiritual retreat (i’tikaf) in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan, where they dedicate themselves to worship and seclusion from worldly affairs.

The celebration of Eid

Ramadan ends with the sighting of the new moon, which marks the beginning of the next month, Shawwal. The first day of Shawwal is celebrated as Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast. This is a joyous occasion where Muslims thank Allah for enabling them to complete the fast, exchange greetings and gifts with their family and friends, wear new clothes, visit the mosque for a special prayer (salat al-Eid), and enjoy festive meals and sweets. Eid al-Fitr is also a time to pay zakat al-fitr, a mandatory charity that ensures that every Muslim can celebrate Eid without hunger or hardship.

Ramadan is a month of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and devotion to Allah. It is a time to strengthen family and community ties and to seek forgiveness for one’s sins. Ramadan is also a time to appreciate the diversity and beauty of Islam, as Muslims from different cultures and backgrounds unite in their common faith and practice.

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