Facts about Ramadan
By Mariam Hamou
Islam (Submission to God) is one of the world's three major religions and is the final link in the Judeo-Christian Islamic tradition of monotheism (belief in one God). More than one billion Muslims follow this religion around the world. About six million Muslims live in North America.
Ramadan is one of two major religious celebrations for Muslims during the year. It is that time of year when Muslims recharge their spiritual batteries. After the end of Ramadan comes one of two Muslim festivals, a day of EID. On this day Muslims thank God for His guidance and grace and for helping them control their base desires and fulfill their spiritual needs.
Ramadan is important for Muslims because it is believed to be the month during which the Holy Qur'an (the Muslim Holy Book) was revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S) (570-632 A.D.). It is also important because it is the month during which the Muslims were ordered to fast, achieving one of their spiritual satisfaction and practice.
Muslims consider the Qur'an to be the true words of God given to humanity through Muhammad (S.A.S), who is considered the last of the prophets. Muhammad (S.A.S) was to call the people to monotheism and righteousness. This tradition of God-chosen prophets or messengers is believed to include such figures as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset every day. This means they do not eat, drink or smoke and refrain from sexual relations during the daylight hours. The fasting person is expected to do his/her best to practice self-control and discipline, not to get angry easily, refrain from using vulgar language or insults and to tolerate, forgive and respect others. Young children, the elderly, the sick, pregnant women and people on medication are not expected to fast. Older people can feed a poor person for every day of Ramadan they cannot fast. Sick people can compensate by fasting other days when they feel well. Children are permitted to fast only when they are strong enough physically to tolerate fasting without difficulty.
Fasting is not just an exercise of self-control; it also builds one's sensitivity to the suffrage of the poor. It also has benefits on one's health, improving both physical and mental abilities. It is regarded principally as a method of self-purification and taqwaa (God consciousness).