Ramadan is considered one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims. It is the month in which fasting has been made obligatory on every Muslim except those exempted from fasting, from dawn to sunset.
The faithful fast between 11 to 16 hours daily depending on the time of year for a period of 29-30 days as a means of drawing closer to Allah and cultivating self-control, gratitude, and compassion for the less fortunate.
Words of an Imam
Sheikh Ahmed Adjetey Adjei, Deputy Greater Accra Regional Imam of the Ghana Muslim Mission told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the ultimate goal of fasting in the month of Ramadan is to gain Taqwah that is God-consciousness.
It signifies a state of constant awareness of Allah, through discipline, self-restraint and a greater incentive to do good and avoid evil.
He said the practice of fasting served several spiritual and social purposes: to remind Muslims of their human weakness and dependence on Allah for sustenance, to show how hunger and thirst are and to have compassion for, and a duty to help the poor and needy, and to reduce the distractions in life to clearly focus on their relationship with the Almighty Allah.
Muslims are also supposed to curb negative thoughts and emotions like jealousy and anger, and even lesser things like swearing, complaining, and gossiping, during the month. Some people may also choose to give up or limit activities like listening to music and watching television, often in favour of listening to recitations of the Quran, he said.
“Ramadan comes with a lot of benefits to the fasting Muslim with faith and hope for reward from Allah alone as stated by the Prophet (SAW), then his or her spiritual growth is enhanced through forgiveness of all previous sins by Allah.
“During this month, the doors of mercy, forgiveness and kindness are specially opened and the doors of evil, bad and wrong doing are specially closed.”
Sheikh Adjei said fasting in Ramadan helped to gain the fear and love of Allah, by drawing closer to him through the recitation and reflection on the Quran day and night, attending tawareeh (night) prayers, remembering Allah (dzikhir) and sitting in circles of knowledge.
He said the month of Ramadan also helped Muslims to acquire patience and strong will. It also helps the Muslim to re-inforce his or her manners especially that related to truthfulness and trust.
The Prophet Mohammed (SAW) is reported to have said that whoever does not abandon falsehood for truthfulness, then Allah does not need that he should leave his food and drink. So the Muslim should endeavour to refrain from any behaviour that would render the fast ineffective or worthless.
He said the last 10 nights of Ramadan was important to the Muslim, as it was considered the most blessed nights of Ramadan and the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said that seek the Night of Power (‘Lailat al-Qadr’,) during the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.
So in order not to miss the nights, Muslims are advised and encouraged to hold vigils in prayer, Qur’anic recitation, and contemplation during all the ten nights.
Allah (SWT) said in Quran chapter 77 verse 3 that “the blessings of that night is better than the blessings of a 1000 months.” And in Quran chapter 44 verse 4, Allah said that “every matter for the ensuing year is decreed on this special night so the Muslim should always supplicate a lot for good things in this life and the hereafter.”
He advised that as the month approached in abnormal times, Muslims must endeavour to adhere to all the COVID-19 protocols put in place by government as they went about their normal activities for the month of Ramadan.
“The Muslim should not waste valuable time during this month because it comes once in every year and no one is assured of the next Ramadan. We should spend as much time as possible in doing good deeds, performing prayers, reading the Quran and hadith and reflecting on them, making supplication (dua) and remembering of Allah (dhikir), and helping other Muslim and non-Muslim brothers and sisters alike.
Alhaji Mujahid Babs, Chief Imam, Bameiyie Mosque, Kasoa, admonished Muslims to reset their lifestyles by cultivating new and better lifestyles with pure hearts and minds with the intention of receiving kindness and mercy from Allah, and consider this year’s fast as their last since no one is assuring of the next Ramadan.
He said “let us take this opportunity to sincerely repent from our sins and bad ways, and ask Allah to grant us the best out of this fast, to protect and guide us throughout the rest of the year and beyond, and to grant us all the good in this life and the hereafter.”
Historically, Ramadan was enjoined on Muslims for fasting during the second year of Hijrah (migration of Muslims from Mecca to Madina), and it is a month of intense spiritual rejuvenation with a heightened focus on devotion.
When is Ramadan?
It is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, which is based on a 12-month lunar year of approximately 354 days. Because the lunar year is eleven days shorter than the solar year, each lunar month moves eleven days earlier each year and it takes 33 solar years for the lunar months to complete a full cycle and return to the same season.
The month traditionally starts and ends based on the sighting of the new moon. This has a large impact on how people experience Ramadan from year to year.
Since the new moon isn’t actually super visible in the night sky, Muslims traditionally wait to start fasting until the small sliver of crescent moon becomes visible. As stated by the Prophet Mohammed (Saw), one must not start fasting until you see the crescent.
Today, however, we have precise scientific calculations that tell us exactly when the new moon begins, and we don’t need to wait until someone spots a tiny crescent in the sky, Ghana News Agency uncovered.
The Holy Quaran Chapter 2 verse 183, states that, “O you who believe, Siyam (fasting) is prescribed onto you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may have piety (fear of Allah)”.
And in an authentic hadith of the Prophet Mohammed (SAW), he is reported to have said that “Islam is built on five pillars and one of them is the obligatory fast in the month of Ramadan”.
“Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the testimony of faith (Shahada), prayer (Salat), charitable giving (Zakat), and making a pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).
“All Muslims are required to take part every year, though there are special dispensations for those who are ill, pregnant or nursing, menstruating, or traveling, and for young children and the elderly”.
In Quran Chapter 2 verse 185, Allah says: “The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Holy Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights the moon of the month, let him fast, and whoever is ill or on a journey, then must fast an equal number of other days.”
The fast of Ramadan entails forgoing food and drink, and if married, abstaining from sex during the day. For Muslims, Ramadan is a time to train themselves both physically and spiritually by avoiding any negative acts such as gossiping, backbiting, lying or arguing.
Muslims welcome Ramadan as an opportunity for self-reflection, and spiritual improvement, and as a means to grow in moral excellence. Ramadan is also a highly social time as Muslims to invite each other to break their fast together and meet for prayers at the mosque.
During Ramadan, Muslims wake up well before dawn to eat the pre-dawn meal, known as ‘Suhur’ which forms a vital part of fasting, as it helps to remain in good health for the rest of the days.
At sunset Muslims break the day’s fast with light meals known as ‘Iftar’, before performing the evening prayer, followed by a special prayer called ‘Taraweeh’, that is only performed during Ramadan, and the Night of Power known as ‘Lailat al-Qadr’, during the last ten days of the month.
Celebrations after fasting
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr or the “Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.”
A special prayer and sermon are held in the morning of the Eid day, followed by community celebrations usually in a park or large hall.
Food, games and presents for children are important parts of the festivities, as friends and family spend the day socializing, eating and reuniting with old acquaintances.
This year, Ramadan, will start on April 13 and end on May 12, and Muslim across the globe would be expected to commence the annual fast immediately the crescent is sited.
The COVID-19 pandemic, although had a great impact on the holy month last year, Muslims are however optimistic that this year they would be able to engage in all the spiritual activities that Ramadan comes with, in order to the derive the full benefits of it, by the will of Allah.
Source: GNA/Hafsa Obeng/Samira Yakubu