In just a few days, the month of Ramadan will arrive once again and millions of Muslims all across the world will come together as a community to partake in a month of fasting, self improvement, and spiritual reflection. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar and is the month in which the Quran was revealed. Fasting during Ramadan consists of abstinence from eating and drinking as well as from immoral and angry behaviors, focusing instead on bettering oneself by acts of worship, including praying, recitation of the Quran, and giving generously in charity.
The Quran prescribes fasting upon Muslims so that we may achieve a more righteous and spiritually connected life. Fasting helps us control ourselves and our desires; being able to refuse your body a drink of water despite it yearning for one takes a great deal of self-control. So, in a way, the month of Ramadan is our training wheels for the real world, where there are no restrictions and our urges run wild.
The goal of Islam is to perfect our character and live in the best way, and fasting prepares both our hearts and minds to take on the challenges of life and refrain from committing sin. If we can control ourselves from partaking in things that are a part of daily life, we most definitely can control ourselves from doing things that are not right and immoral, in the end, allowing us to be the best possible versions of ourselves.
The best part of it all is that one is not alone when embarking on this journey. Fasting during Ramadan is both unifying and individualistic. Each person respectively derives their own meaning from Ramadan, while communities as a whole are brought closer together. This connection is strengthened by nightly iftaars, large communal dinners where everyone breaks their fast together, and tarawih, nighttime prayers in which the Quran is recited and forgiveness is asked. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is narrated to have said that, “Whoever observes night prayer in Ramadan as an expression of his faith and to seek reward from Allah, his previous sins will be blotted out.” Thus, it is not uncommon to find local masjids full to the brim with Muslims all engaging in prayer uniformly. The result is an increased spirituality and connection to one another that makes Ramadan much more beloved and engaging.
The last ten nights of the holy month are the most precious. In one of the nights, Muslims believe that God descends to the lowest heaven and answers all the prayers of the believers. This single night is referred as Laylat Al-Qadr, or the “Night of Power,” in the Quran and Muslims eagerly perform prayers throughout the last ten nights of Ramadan hoping to encounter the rewards that come with it. This night entails an abundant amount of rewards for Muslims, and is believed that a person who prays out of faith during this night receives the reward of one thousand months of worship. In this sacred time, Muslims gather in mosques all night and worship God, hoping to achieve the rewards of Laylat Al-Qadr.
The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a holiday called Eid Al-Fitr with family and friends and consists of a morning prayer and sadaqah, a charity given to the poor on behalf of each member of the family. Since Ramadan gives all Muslims a glimpse of the life of the poor, Muslims around the world contribute a little of their wealth in order to help to poor.
Ramadan is a holy thirty days for Muslims and is observed around the world. Muslims come together every night of this month and enjoy the company of others and develop better relations and devote more time towards their religion. Muslims hope to take full advantage of Ramadan’s benefits and with it coming up, many are preparing for a month of fasting to achieve a better connection to God.
The fast is usually broken with some dates and water or milk. During iftaar, whole communities break their fasts and eat together which establishes unity and peace.