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, drink or engage in intimate relations with one's spouse.
Typically, Muslims have “Sohour”, or the morning meal before the sunrise 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 the remembrance of Allah through supplications, as well as standing in the night prayer (Taraweeh) and the midnight prayer during the last ten nights of the Holy Month.
For those not practising Ramadan, it may be a new concept or something that seems unusual. People tend to have a lot of questions but maybe are afraid to ask them, either for fear of offending someone or maybe just for fear of seeming ignorant. A question asked quite often is, “All day? Not even water? COFFEE?”
Yes, not even water, and definitely no coffee or cigarettes. Smoking is strictly prohibited while fasting as well.
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team brings you answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Ramadan.
Fasting is a religious obligation for Muslims and is a way to exercise self-restraint by staying away from consumption of food, drink, smoking and intimate activity—things that act as temptations in our daily lives. It helps exercise discipline and patience 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.
Menstruating women are not allowed to fast; however, they do have to make up for their missed fasts after Ramadan. People without mental capacity, people who are sick or the elderly can be excused from fasting.
However, all fasts that adults with mental soundness skip have to be made up at any other time during the year. In the case of an adult who cannot fast due to prolonged illness, an underprivileged fasting person must be fed daily to expiate the missed fast.
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.”
While your close circle of friends and family may not mind you eating while they fast, it is recommended that you remain considerate to the fasting people around you and avoid eating and drinking in front of them, especially at a workplace or any other public space.
Note that the law in Qatar also prohibits eating and drinking in public during Ramadan.
Laytul-Qadr is also known as “the night of decree” or “the night of power” - a night that falls within the last ten days of Ramadan and commonly believed to be any of the odd nights, inclining towards the 27th; however, not definitive.
The last nights of Ramadan is a period within which worshippers hasten toward lengthy night prayers known as “Qiyam ul-Layl” in addition to the prayer of “Taraweeh”.
It is believed to be the night Angel Jibril (Gabriel) revealed the Holy Qur'an’s first verses to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), thus, making it one of the most auspicious times of the Islamic calendar.
Devotional acts of worship are increased in an attempt to ensure the sacred virtue of this special night is not missed as it is believed to be the night wherein one’s fate is decreed and is the night of Allah’s abundant mercy. Additionally, every act of worship has exceeding rewards in this duration.
Cover image credit: iStock-654751028, Written by Rumana Shaikh, updated by Fareeha Imtiaz
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