Today, Muslims around the world begin their holy month of Ramzan, also known as Ramadan in Arabic. The Arabic people also greet each other “Ramadan Kareem”, instead of “Ramzan Mubarak”, as Indian Muslims do.
Ramzan starts on Friday, July 20 and will continue for 30 days until Saturday, August 18. Ramzan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar.
Ramzan is observed by fasting (without consuming even water) from sunrise to sunset and by the reading of theQuran, the holy book of the Muslims. They eat a small meal before sunrise (known as suhur) and a wholesome meal after sunset (known as iftar), which includes dates (to imitate Prohet Mohammed’s habit) and seviyan (rice noodles). Muslims also practice sawm during Ramzan, which requires that individuals abstain from smoking and sexual intercourse as well.
Charitable acts is another significant aspect of Ramzan. The self-sacrifice demonstrated by fasting is to experience the hunger felt by the poor and to create a desire within to help them by donating food, or raising money for their basic necessities. During Ramzan, many Muslims practice reading the Quran on a daily basis while others plan to complete reading the entire Quran during the one month.
The month of Ramzan is a time set aside to aid practice in contemplation, pious thoughts, abstinence, and modesty. The idea is to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds which are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations such as anger, cursing, and greed.
Ramzan was established as a Holy Month for Muslims after the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE on an occasion, which is known as Laylat al-Qadr, or “the Night of Power”. Observance of Ramzan is mandatory for believers, as mentioned in the Quran, Surah 2, Ayah 185 (translated):
“The month of Ramzan (is that) in which was revealed the Qur’an, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights (the new moon of) the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and (wants) for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”
After 30 days of fasting, comes Eid ul-Fitr, and what joy it brings. After thirty days of strict piousness, Eid is the day for expressing gratuitude to Allah and to feast with family and friends.
Mobile apps help the faithful
With increased smartphone penetration, a host of mobile apps are available to help Muslims observe all the religious customs and rituals related to Ramzan. Such apps help heed calls to prayer, calculations of zakat and more, all at the push of a button.