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What is Ramadan? 4 things to know

As we pause to pray for Muslims during this month, here are four foundational components of this holy month.

Ramadan is Muslims’ most sacred month of the year.

Muslims believe this is the holiest month of the year. According to the Prophet Muhammad, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed.”

It was also during this month that the Quran, Islam’s sacred book, was revealed.

Ramadan is a time of celebration and spending time with family and loved ones. The end of Ramadan is marked with another holiday, Eid al-Fitr, also called the “Festival of Breaking of the Fast”. Muslims share meals, give presents, and celebrate during this time.

Muslims fast from dawn to sunset during Ramadan.

Fasting during the day lasts for the entire 30 days of Ramadan. This is a time of prayer, charity, and reflecting on the Quran.

Every year all Muslims must take part in this occasion, with the exception of young children, the elderly, pregnant or nursing women, sick people, or those who are traveling.

The purpose behind fasting is not just for spiritual reasons, but also for Muslims to be aware of those who are in need and then to help them. It is also a time for reflection on their relationship with God.

How do Muslims perform fasting?

From dawn to sunset Muslims abstain from eating any kind of food, drinking any liquids, chewing gum, smoking, or engaging in any kind of sexual activity. Even taking medication is prohibited.

If you do any of these things then that day of fasting is not considered valid, and you must start over the next day. For some days that you didn’t fast due to unforeseen circumstances, you will need to make up for that day after Ramadan, or give a meal to someone in need for every day that you didn’t fast.

Fasting doesn’t only apply to eating. During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to abstain from anger, jealousy, complaining, and other negative thoughts and actions. Limiting activities like listening to music or watching television must also be done.

What happens in a day during the holy month?

A typical day during Ramadan for most Muslims consists of the following:

  • waking up before dawn to eat (Suhoor)
  • performing the morning prayer
  • fasting during daylight
  • breaking the fast (Iftar)
  • evening prayer
  • special prayers during Ramadan (Taraweeh)

Muslims still go to work or school despite fasting. Most Muslim countries reduce working hours during the holy month as a consideration for those who are fasting.

At sunset a light meal (Iftar) is served to break the fast. Most Muslims go to the mosque for evening prayer, then recite another special Ramadan prayer.

Later in the evening they will eat a larger meal shared with family and friends.

The 5 pillars of Islam

The Islamic religion is lived out according to five main “pillars,” which are obligatory religious practices for all adult Muslims.

1. Reciting the creed (shahada) “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” This is said at birth as the first words a baby hears, and

Muslims aim for these to be the last words before their death.

A non-Muslim can convert to Islam by saying the shahada and meaning it sincerely.

2. Prayer (salat) five times each day. Each time during the day has a unique name: Fajr, Zuhr (Dhuhr, Dhur), Asr, Maghrib, and Isha.

3. Almsgiving (zakat) which is both obligatory and voluntary giving to the poor. There is a formula for giving that is defined in the Hanafi madhab (a school of Islamic religious law). Zakat is 2.5% of wealth that has been in one’s possession for a lunar year. If that wealth amounts to less than a threshold figure, called “nisab”, then no zakat is payable.

4. Fasting (saum) especially during the “holy” month of Ramadan.

5. Pilgrimage (hajj) at least once in a lifetime to Mecca. This is known as “The Hajj”.

Many people around the world are praying for God to release his power in 24 Muslim cities where many don’t know about Jesus. Let’s ALL pray that God shows Himself to the lost in signs, wonders, miracles and dreams.

Sign up at the link below to pray as an entire family!

Dear God,

Please protect you children who are risking their lives to tell others about you. Please rescue orphans of war who have lost everything and provide food for children who are starving. May the name of Jesus be lifted up over these cities and may many come to faith in you. Shine Your light in these dark places and let Your kingdom light in these dark places and let Your kingdom come in signs, wonders and power. Amen!

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