Thursday، 15 October 2015 - 12:00 AM
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), through the Angel Gabriel. It is the month of fasting, when all healthy adult Muslims should fast from sunrise to sunset.
Like all Islamic months, Ramadan starts when the new moon is born. Although nowadays advanced equipment could be used to determine the date of the new moon, a number of Muslim countries still stick to the old tradition of spotting the moon. If the new moon is seen on the 29th day of Shabaan, then Ramadan starts the next day. If not, then Shabaan completes 30 days and Ramadan starts the day after.
Spotting the moon has always been an important event. In Cairo, from the 7th to 10th centuries, the chief judge used to the Moqattam hills to view the new crescent. Later, an observatory was built on the hills, in order to watch the moon.
During the Fatimid period, Mosques were always repaired and thoroughly cleaned before the advent of Ramadan, lights and decorations were put up in the streets. Then the city's judges inspected all the decorations.
At the beginning of the month, the Caliph rode in a grand procession around Cairo. He was dressed in wonderful white clothes, embroidered with gold threads. Five thousand soldiers walked before him, and horsemen rode behind.
The "Messaharati" used to go around the streets before dawn to remind people to have their Sohour "Supper". The tradition started in Baghdad in the 8th century and then spread to most Islamic countries.
The "Messaharati" usually beats a drum and calls out people's names. "Messaharatis" are still found in some parts of Cairo and in the villages.
During the rest of the month, special breakfast "Iftar" and supper "Sohour" are provided by the Fatimid Caliph and by the big mosques, where everyone, regardless of their social standing, can eat for free.
In the 13th century the kitchens of the Mamelouk Sultans used to make food for the poor. Servants carried trays of food around the city. Many prisoners were also set free each Ramadan.
Since the Fatimid times, the streets of Egypt in Ramadan have always been decorated with lanterns. The lanterns or "Fanous" were an important part of the celebrations. They were used to light the procession which went to spot the crescent and to announce the start and end of each day's fasting.
In the 15th century, the governor of Cairo ordered everybody to put a lantern in front of their house!
Today, lanterns are hung over the streets and in people's houses, and children are given a small lantern. Free "Iftar" meals are served outside the main Mosques, and are also provided by wealthy people.
The Prophet Muhammad broke his fast by consuming a few dates soaked in milk; he then prayed the Maghrib prayer and continued consuming the rest of his Iftar.
"Iftar" starts with a sweet juice such as "Kammruddin", or apricot juice or "khushaf", which is dried dates soaked in water with sugar. After the juice the soup is served, followed by meat, rice and salad dishes. Families often eat a lot of sweets during the evening too.
Sohur is the last meal for a Muslim before starting a new day of fasting at dawn. A typical Egyptian "Sohour" includes "foul" beans or lentils, yoghurt, cheese, vegetables or salad, bread and dessert. Together, these provide a balanced meal, and prepare the body for a new day of fasting.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim Lunar calendar, marks the day when the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad via His messenger the Angel Gabriel.
Ramadan is a special month for Muslims, a time of worship and contemplation. Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking and smoking till sunset. Additionally, Muslims must show increased tolerance and sympathy with the poor and needy during the holy month. At the end of the day the fast is broken with a meal called the Iftar. Following Iftar, it is customary for Muslims to go out and visit friends and relatives. The first threads of daylight signal the resumption of the fasting.
The good that is acquired through the fasting could be destroyed by slander, telling a lie, denouncing someone behind his back, a false oath, greed or covetousness. During Ramadan, some Muslims choose to go to the Masjid (Mosque) and spend several hours praying and studying the Quran. In addition to the five daily prayers, during Ramadan Muslims recite a special prayer called the Taraweeh prayer (Night Prayer). The length of this prayer is usually 2-3 times as long as the daily prayers. Some Muslims spend the entire night in the mosque praying Taraweeh.
The evening of the 27th day of the month marks the most special day of the year due to some people's beliefs that Laylat-al-Qadr (the Night of Decree) is observed.
It is believed that on this Laylat-al-Qadr Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Holy Quran. Any prayer or deed preformed on that day is returned manifold and all sins are forgiven.
The first day of the next month after Ramadan (known as the month of Shawwal in Arabic) marks the beginning of a three-day holiday called Eid Al Fitr. It is marked by amicable exchange of gifts and visiting of family and friends.
According to the Holy Quran, "The month of Ramadan is that wherein was revealed the Qur'an, as guidance to mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion. So, whoever among you witnesses the month should fast." (Surah II "The Cow", 184.) Several traditions of the Prophet enjoin Muslims to observe fasting as one of the five basic pillars of Islam, of which we quote the following: "Every deed of the Son of Adam is for himself, except fasting - it is for me, and I shall reward it." [Reported by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]
"There is not any believer who remains hungry, and abstains from the forbidden things, and does not wrongfully consume the wealth of Muslims, except that Allah will feed him from the fruits of Heaven." [Reported; by Abu Hanifah]
"Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith and expectation [of reward], his previous sins are forgiven him." [Reported by Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud]
1.2 Special features of Ramadan
Revelation of the Quran began.
Reward is multiplied for the fasting ones.
The doors of heaven are opened, and the doors of Hell are closed.
This Ummah has been given 5 favors not granted to any previous Ummah.
1.3 Rewards of fasting in general
According to the traditions of the Prophet, "Fasting is a shield."
"There is not any servant who fasts a day in the path of Allah, except that Allah will distance him from the Fire by a distance of seventy years." [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim]
1.4 Warning against abandoning fasting in Ramadan
"Whoever breaks his fast in Ramadan without a [valid] concession or illness, he cannot repay it, even if he was to fast the rest of his life." [reported by Tirmidhi, Nasa'iand Ibn Majah]
1.5 Ramadan in the history of the Muslims
The prophethood of Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and the revelation of the Quran.
The victory of the Battle of Badr.
The Triumph of Mecca.
The Conquest of Andalusia (Spain) in 92 A.H.
Battle against and expulsion of the Crusaders in 582 A.H., under Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi. Defeat of the Tartars in 702 A.H.
1.6 Ramadan in the life of Muslims
The month of worship, recitation of the Quran and remembrance of Allah.
Disappearance of evil behavior during the month of Ramadan
Strengthening of bonds in the Ummah.
Increase donations and charity.
Performing Tarawih prayers.
Performance of "Umrah" for those who are capable.