Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and it's also the month in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and is prescribed to every able-bodied Muslim. What this means is that for a month each year, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset every day. During the fast, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything and must also abstain from sexual relations. Typically, Muslims have “suhour” or the morning meal before the morning prayer, Fajr. Once it is time for Fajr, the fast begins. It continues until the sunset prayer, Maghrib. The fast is then opened with a meal called “futoor” or “iftar.” During Ramadan, Muslims also tend to maximize the time they spend in prayer and worship. This includes reading a lot of Qur’an, engaging in remembrance of Allah, as well as standing in the night prayer (taraweeh) and the even later night prayer during the last ten nights of the Holy Month.
For those not practicing Ramadan, it may be a new concept or something that seems unusual. People tend to have a lot of questions but may be afraid to ask them, either for fear of offending someone or maybe just for fear of seeming ignorant. A question I get asked quite often is, “All day? Not even water? COFFEE?”
Yep, not even water, and definitely no coffee (or cigarettes). Smoking’s not allowed either. So, ILQ is bringing you answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Ramadan.
Fasting is a way for Muslims to exercise self-restraint by staying away from consumption of food, drink and sexual activity—things that act as temptations in our daily lives. It helps exercise discipline, because fasting also requires that one doesn't get angry or engage in any bad or harmful activities, especially towards others.
Children are exempt from fasting until they reach the age of adolescence. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding are also exempt from fasting during Ramadan, as are people who are travelling. While they're menstruating, women are not allowed to fast, but have to make up their missed fasts after Ramadan. People without mental capacity and insight as well as people who are sick can be excused from fasting. However, all fasts that are skipped by adults with mental soundness have to be made up at any other time during the year. Check out our article about those exempt from fasting for more details!
If someone accidentally breaks their fast—meaning they forget that they're fasting and eat or drink absentmindedly and then realize and stop immediately, their fast is still valid. They can continue the fast and will not need to compensate for it as long as they don’t then consciously break it again. According to a hadith (narration), the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Whoever forgets he is fasting and eats or drinks, let him complete his fast for it is Allah Who has fed him and given him to drink.”
So if you accidentally drink some water, don’t go raiding the fridge thinking you’re done for.
It definitely shouldn’t be! Non-Muslims don’t have to fast just because we do! Usually, people tend to feel ashamed or hide their meals from Muslims during Ramadan, but chances are, we don’t really mind! Our stomachs are going to growl loud enough for the entire room to hear, regardless of whether or not you’re sipping your coffee. You may come across people who throw a dirty glance your way for eating while they’re fasting, but that isn’t really how it’s supposed to be. Sure, if you feel like you’re being disrespectful, do what makes you feel comfortable, but it’s most likely that your Muslim colleagues and friends are OK with it. Just try not to look them in the eye as you down an icy glass of water on a summer day in Qatar.
You might have noticed that some of the Muslims around you are in the mosque late at night in the last ten nights of Ramadan. This is because these nights are considered to be quite sacred. Muslims engage in a lot of voluntary prayers during these last ten nights, because it is believed that Laylatul Qadr or the Night of Power falls during one of these nights. Laylatul Qadr is believed to be the night the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and is also a night during which prayers are answered and sins are forgiven. Sincere worship during this night is considered better than that of a thousand months. It's not certain which night it falls on, so it is recommended that people engage in prayer and sincere repentance every night for the last ten days of Ramadan.
These were our Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions about Ramadan. Hopefully, your questions about the Holy Month were answered. Let us know in the comments below if you have more questions or if you’ve been asked any others! Have a blessed last week of Ramadan! Also, don't forget to give us a like and a share—it keeps us going!
(Written by Rumana Shaikh)
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