What is Ramadan? Why do we celebrate Ramadan?

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By Ameena Drammeh

Introduction: Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and having sexual intercourse with their partners during daylight hours as in intended to teach Muslims about patience, spiritually, humility and submissiveness to God.

Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, and do away with bad habits — essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for “fasting” (sawm) literally means “to refrain” – and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words.

During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.

Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person’s body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one’s self on the worship of God.

Celebrated during the ninth month of Islamic calendar, the fast is observed each day from sunrise to sunset. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five Pillars of Islam. It is the Islamic belief that requires that Muslims perform five central duties in order to strengthen their faith. While Islam has two major sects, the Sunnis and the Shiites, all Muslims aim to realize these five pillars in their lifetime.

Ramadan concludes with a 3-day festival known as “Eid” or “Eid ul-Fitr,” which literally means “the feast of the breaking/to break the fast.” The holiday marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and is a culmination of the month-long struggle towards a higher spiritual state.

Muslims around the world anticipate the arrival of the holiest month of the year. During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims from all continents unite in a period of fasting and spiritual reflection.

Each year, Muslims spend the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observing a community-wide fast. The annual fast of Ramadan is considered one of the five “pillars” of Islam. Muslims who are physically able are required to fast each day of the entire month, from sunrise to sunset. The evenings are spent enjoying family and community meals, engaging in prayer and spiritual reflection, and reading from the Qur’an.

 What is Eid al-Fitr?

Eid al-Fitr (also spelled Eid ul-Fitr) marks the end of the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting. The word Fitr means “to break,” which symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period and of all evil habits.