The holy Quran ordains sawm (fasting) as one of the five pillars of Islam. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is the Holy month of Ramadan. From dawn to dusk, Muslims, who are healthy adults, observe the rituals of fasting. The Quran emphasizes fasting as means to attain piety, righteousness, and self-restraint. Ramadan culminates in the festival of Eid Al Fitr (Eid ul Fitr). Let’s have a look at the various aspects of Ramadan.
The importance of Ramadan lies in its unique status as the month in which Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). According to Hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings), the gates of Heaven (Jannah) are open for the entire month of Ramadan, while the gates of Hell (Jahannam) are closed.
According to Haidth, good deeds committed during this holy month will fetch manifold rewards in the hereafter. Muslims also help others by giving the obligatory charity of Zakaat, and voluntary charity of Sadaqa, during Ramadan. “Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, all his past sins will be forgiven”, a Hadith quotes the Prophet (PBUH) as saying. The act of fasting is also to remind Muslims of the plight of the less-privileged and be grateful for the bounties of Almighty.
This holy month includes three Ashras or stages that are own for their own significance. The first ten days are the days of mercy, the middle ones as days of forgiveness, and the last ten as days of redemption. The last ashra is particularly ‘a blessing’ as it features the Laylut-al-Qadr or the Night of Decree, which marks nightlong prayers for mercy and supplication.
During fasting, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and other worldly pleasures, spending most of their time in prayers and recitation of the Quran. The predawn meals are known as Suhoor. Suhoor meal needs to be over before the break of dawn.
The completion of fast is termed as Iftar, coinciding with sunset and intake of dates and other food. People prefer to have both Suhoor and Iftar in the presence of family members or friends. Believers offer special night prayers, called Taraweeh, in large congregations after the Isha prayers, in sets of two rak’at each.
Lunar months last for around 29 to 30 days, and the start of Ramadan varies each year, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon. The Holy month of Ramadan 2021 will begin on 13 April 2021, and Muslims across the Middle East and the world will be searching for the Eid crescent on the last evening of Ramadan.
Ramadan 2021 will be the second time the holy month will be observed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Several countries have imposed restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, but these hopefully will not dampen people’s festive spirit. The masses will be able to observe the Holy Month with more normalcy than the previous year. Authorities worldwide have called on masses to avoid gatherings, but people are still staying connected through phone calls and technology. Ramadan this year is a ray of hope for people as they will pray for an end to the pandemic.
The UAE has issued a slew of guidelines to ensure people are able to safely observe Ramadan 2021. Last Ramadan, COVID-19 lockdown confined people to their homes, but mosques across UAE will remain open during Ramadan 2021. Authorities have limited special Taraweeh prayers to a duration of 30 minutes, while ordering closure of women’s prayer halls. Authorities have also asked people to avoid gatherings. There are guidelines for Iftar gatherings in mosques and restaurants as well.