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  Culture - Ramadan

RAMADAN (Ramezan)
  • The lunar calendar is used for observance of Ramadan. A lunar calendar utilizes the moon instead of the sun to find out when a new lunar month starts. All months are either twenty nine or thirty days long. Before the beginning of Ramadan, muslims around the world look at the sky at night. When the thin crescent of a new moon can be seen is indication of the beginning of Ramadan. At this time, the phrase "Ramadan Mubarak" is used which means "Have a blessed and happy Ramadan".

  • In a lunar calendar, any given date falls ten days earlier each year (eleven days in a leap year) than the previous year. Therefore, Ramadan as well as other months rotates throughout the seasons, year after year. In about thirty three years, the cycle of twelve months is completed so Ramadan falls during all the seasons.

  • It was during Ramadan that Allah (God) through the Angel Gabriel revealed the holy book of Koran (Quran) to prophet Mohammad. The Koran (Quran) is divided into 30 sections, one for each day of Ramadan. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which all Muslims must fast during the daylight hours. Fasting is not regarded as a means of calming God's wrath or paying for sins, the purpose of fasting is to train oneself self-discipline, self control, and obedience to God's commands.

  • Ramadan is not only the month of fasting but also the month of spiritual healing. The practice of fasting includes abstaining from all food, drink, tobacco, chewing gum, and sexual relations throughout the duration of fasting. In addition, one refrains from arguing, fighting, lying, speaking ill of others, and restrains the tongue and temper. This is a period to resolve past arguments, a time of forgiveness, a time to be loving and caring towards any human being regardless of religion, race, etc., and a time of giving to charity.

  • Besides the usual five daily prayers, additional prayers are performed individually or in mosques each night. The practice of Prophet Mohammad was to recite the entire Quran during Ramadan which still many Muslims follow the same tradition. The intention of these practices is to voluntarily free oneself from dependence on physical satisfaction, to concentrate on spiritual goals and development and to devote oneself to God. Furthermore, to train oneself to be flexible in habits and behaviors, to spend more time with your family, friends and your community, to sympathize with the poor and experience their daily hunger, not to take for granted the abundance of God and be content and grateful with what God has given us.

  • To prepare for fasting, one wakes up before dawn when every one even roosters are still in bed. one can have a meal (called suhur or sahari) until ten minutes before the first light of dawn. The fast must be broken at sunset, each day with a meal called Iftar. The fast is usually broken by eating a date (khorma) and thanking God for giving the strength to fast for that day. Each household prepares the dinner feast before Iftar.

  • Fasting may seem difficult if one has not practiced it before. However, it is tolerated by most people even some people do it very easily. In some Muslim countries the work-schedule is modified during this month. In other countries, fasting is not an excuse to neglect work or obligations. In fact, it is the time when people practice self-control.

  • Fasting is the responsibility of all Muslims after puberty except; sick people, those who are traveling, children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, women during menstruation and up to forty days following childbirth, very old people, and the insane. If one misses fasting during Ramadan because of their condition, one can make it up before the beginning of the next Ramadan. If fasting is hazardous to one's health permanently, one can instead give a total equivalent of one meal for each day to the poor. Old people and insane people are permanently exempt from fasting.

  • At the end of Ramadan, zakat (zakah or fetrieh) must be paid to needy. Zakat (zakah or fetrieh) is money that every Muslim pays to the poor and is equal to the sum of the cost of a meal for every member of the family. In the time of Prophet Mohammad, zakat (zakah or fetrieh) was used to free slaves from their masters. As slaves became free, they helped to free other slaves.

  • The end of Ramadan is again determined and announced by observance of the new moon. Eid-e-Fetr or Eid-al-Fitr is the festival that marks the end of Ramadan. This festival is the time of celebration because of completing the obligation of fasting successfully.

  • Eid-e-Fetr (Eid-al-Fitr) includes prayers that usually starts shortly after sunrise. Men and women attend Eide's prayers which is usually held in mosques or in an open area where thousands of people can gather. The phrase "Eid-e-Fetr Mubarak" is exchanged which means "Have a happy and blessed Eid". After prayers, people exchange visits with relatives and friends. Special sweets and special meal are prepared and shared.

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