The Importance of Ramadan ( just to remind ourselves)
Ramadan is important for Muslims is because it is believed to be the month in which the first verses of the Holy Quran (the divine scripture) were revealed by Allah (God) to Prophet Muhammad (570-632 C.E.).
From time to time, Muhammad used to go out from Makkah, where he was born and where he worked as a caravan trader, to reflect and meditate in solitude. Like Abraham before him, he had never accepted his people's worship of many gods, and felt a need to withdraw to a quiet place to reflect on the One God.
One night, while contemplating in a cave near Makkah, he heard a voice call out, telling him to "Read!" Muhammad protested that he was unable to read. The voice insisted again, and then a third time, and Muhammad found himself reciting the first verses of the Quran:
"Read, in the name of thy Lord, Who created–
Created man, out of a clot (embryo).
Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,
He Who taught the use of the pen–
Taught man that which he knew not.
Nay, but man doth transgress all bounds,
In that he looketh upon himself as self-sufficient.
Verily, to thy Lord is the return (of all)." (ch.96: 1-8)
The voice was that of the angel Gabriel, and he confirmed that Muhammad was selected for an important and challenging mission–he was to call people to monotheism and righteousness.
Muslims consider the Quran to be God's speech recorded in the Arabic language, and transmitted to humanity through Muhammad, who is considered the last of the prophets.
This tradition of God-chosen prophets or messengers is believed to include such figures as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus.
Muslims believe that over a period of twenty-three years, various verses and chapters of the Quran were revealed to Muhammad through Gabriel. The Quran is comprised of 114 chapters of varying length, with titles such as "Abraham," "The Pilgrimage," "Mary," and "Repentance."
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset every day. This means not consuming food and drink, including water, during the daylight hours.
For married adults, it also includes refraining from marital relations during the hours of fasting (i.e. the daylight hours).
In the Arabic language, fasting is known as Sawm. Muslims arise early in the morning during Ramadan to have a pre-dawn breakfast meal, known as Suhoor. At the end of the day, the fast is completed by taking the Iftar meal, which usually includes dates, fresh fruits, appetizers, beverages and dinner.
Later in the evening, Muslims attend special nightly Tarawih prayers at their local Masjid.
Each night during Ramadan, approximately 1/30th of the Quran is recited in the Tarawih prayers, so that the entire scripture is recited in the course of the 29 or 30 days of the month.
Why Muslims Fast
For Muslims, fasting has a number of benefits:
1. It helps one to feel compassion for those who are less fortunate and underprivileged, since each day Muslims feel greater appreciation for what they have as a result of feeling hunger and thirst.
2. It allows one to build a sense of self-control and willpower, which can be beneficial throughout life in dealing with temptations and peer pressure. Through fasting, Muslims learn to control their natural urges such as hunger and thirst, and thus are able to better resist temptations for things which are not necessary, such as drugs or other unhealthy or harmful substances and behaviors.
3. It offers a time for Muslims to "purify" their bodies as well as their souls, by developing a greater sense of humility, spirituality and community. Ramadan is a very spiritual time for Muslims, and often they invite each other to one another's homes to break the fast and pray together. A greater sense of generosity and forgiveness is also characteristic of this time.
As with other duties in Islam, fasting becomes obligatory (i.e. one becomes accountable) after the age of puberty. So keep in mind you are accountable .