“O you who believe! Observing al-sawn (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqoon (the pious).” (Qur'an, al-Baqarah 2:183)
Many of you may be wondering, what is this thing called ‘Ramadan’? Every year Muslims seem to get very excited about this ‘Ramadan’. You may know a family member, neighbour, co-worker, friend who is fasting throughout Ramadan.
What is it and what makes it so significant?
Ramadan is the name of the ninth month of the Islamic Calender, and the month in itself changes by 11 days each year as it follows the lunar cycle. However Ramadan is like no other month for Muslims, as it is a month in which we perform one important pillar of our religion-fasting.
Every year for 30 days, over a billion Muslims from all over the globe abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, as well as foul/unpleasant language and anything that is ill-natured or excessive; from dawn until the sun sets. It is a holy month for Muslims and a chance for them to review themselves, their spirituality and their character so they can improve for the better. Just as large corporations have annual reports, the Muslim analysis his/her own self and their relationship with God and others in this one month in order to note down what they have been doing wrong (and strive to change that) and to improve their good aspects.
Ramadan is also significant for several other reasons:
God says in the Qur'an:
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion…” (Qur'an, al-Baqarah, 2:185)
The Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the month of Ramadan, and this is of huge significance to a Muslim as the Qur'an is a close companion to the Muslim. It is what we believe to be God’s word which speaks to each Muslim on a personal level, yet also addresses all of Mankind.
Ramadan also offers Muslims a chance for all their previous sins to be forgiven. It offers three opportunities:
1-: By fasting in Ramadan, if with sincerity, they will be forgiven their previous sins
2-: By praying at night in Ramadan and
3- By praying during the last 10 nights of Ramadan as one of those nights will be 'The night of decree’, as in the specific night the Qur'an was revealed.
This is because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven .” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 32, Hadith 231)
“Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 32, Hadith 226)
Ramadan conveys an extraordinary sense of emotional enthusiasm and religious eagerness among Muslims of all ages. Even though fasting is compulsory for capable adults alone (children, the elderly and the ill are exempt from fasting), children as young as eight readily observe or take part in partial fasting with their elders. Children look forward to the thrill of the moon sighting and eating unique meals with their relatives. Adults are grateful for the chance to double their rewards from God and ask for pardon for their past sins. Ramadan highlights Muslim brotherhood and sisterhood, customs and brings about a special feeling of closeness, both to God, and the community.
Your own sins should distract you enough from focusing on the faults of others.
Stay conscious of your flaws.. the greatest men who lived done more for Islam than you and I could imagine, yet they still saw their sins higher than mountains and always felt like they could do more in terms of their good deeds. So take lesson and remember it’s healthy to realise what you do not know, and what you still can and need to do.
“If you see that one of you has slipped, correct him, pray for him and do not help shaytaan against him (by insulting him)” - Umar ibn Al Khattab