Sheikh Abdul Qasim Mutahhary, Imamia Jama Masjid, Leh: Ramzan is the holy month observed during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The month starts with the sighting of new moon after which the fasting continues for 29 or 30 days. The sacred month aims to purify the soul and bring the individual closer to Allah. It is made clear in the Holy Quran that fasting is compulsorily prescribed to all Muslims. A boy above 15 years and girl above 8 years follow the Ramzan month.
During Ramzan, one can eat before sunrise and breaks the fast after dusk. Apart from abstaining from drinking and eating one should also refrain from smoking, gossiping, lying and other immoral act. The month is not just about restriction from certain things but teaches patience and develops new and better habits in one’s life.
Benefits of Ramzan
While practicing self-restraint in the sacred month it purifies oneself both physically and spiritually. It is believed that during fasting the body gets cleansed and many diseases borne by food and drinks eliminates. And spiritually it enables to analyze oneself, understand the pain of others and being compassionate towards one who is in need.
The practice is made mandatory to everyone whether rich or poor so that one can understand the suffering of poor people, the thirst and hunger they face. Self-realization encourages offerings, sharing and helping others which need to be inculcated by everyone.
Who are exempted?
The Holy Quran makes clear that Ramzan month is about making one righteous and strictly discourages hardship and sufferings during fasting. Thus, people who are sick or suffering from a chronic health condition, aged person, breastfeeding mother, pregnant women and the one who are menstruating, travelers are exempted from fasting. They can practice at alternative times of the year. Also, one who breaks his/ her fast due to health condition must feed poor person or donate 750 gm of rice, wheat or anything for each day missed.
If any person who is fit to observe fast but chooses not to follow, have to practice the fasting next time for two months.
How Ramzan ends?
The holy month ends with a sighting of new moon and marks it by celebrating Eid -ul-Fitr. The festival is marked by breaking the fast, offering prayer and feasting with family, friends, and relatives.
Before offering the prayer, a practice named Zakat is followed which means donating around 3 kgs of food or money by each person in the family to the needy one. The offering to the needy is compulsory to the one who is well off and can help others.
Dr. Abdul Qayum, President, Anjuman Moin ul Islam: There are five pillars of Islam and Sawm, (Fasting during Ramadan) is one among them along with Shahadah ( testament of faith), Salat (5 times prayer a day), Zakat, (giving charity tax to the needy), and the Hajj (going on pilgrimage to Mecca). All five pillars form a basis on which every individual should live its life.
During Ramzan Muslim eat a pre-dawn meal, fast whole day and breaks the fast after sunset. Apart from eating and drinking, they should refrain from immoral acts also. Prayer during the night time called Tarawih is also held in mosques. In the month of Ramzan, one should indulge in prayers, giving charity to the poor and needy. It is believed that good deeds performed in the holy month are of immense virtue and can earn 70 times more reward as compared to regular months.
What month-long fasting means?
People constraint their thoughts and idea about the holy month only to stay without food and water. Ramzan has a wider concept; it’s about self-realization, bringing inner development and changes. Month-long fasting is about inculcating positive thoughts, offering prayers, helping the poor and needy, understanding the pain and suffering of others, being disciplined and punctual. It’s all about cleansing one’s mind, body, and soul.
Who can or cannot practice Ramzan?
Every Muslim who is mentally and physically fit and the children who have reached the age of puberty observe fasting. The practice of fasting for one month is mandatory to follow. Anyone who is physically unfit and is suffering from illness or old age, traveler, women who are menstruating, are exempted from fasting. Fasting with hardships and causing harm to the body is strictly restricted.
What is Zakat?
Also, in this holy month, Zakat, giving charity to the poor and needy is also performed. People who have wealth more than ones need are obliged to pay 2.5 per cent from it as a tax. The tax amount is known as Zakat is used or given to the one who is poor and in desperate need. One can identify the person who is in need and offer it or else give to the concern association or society who will further use the amount in the education of poor destitute children, taking care of orphans, widow and other needy people. The aim of practising Zakat is to make everyone financially balanced and develop.
Laylat al Qadr or the Night of destiny
Likewise, Friday day is observed as holy among the whole weekdays. The last 10 nights of the fasting month, Laylat al Qadr or the Night of destiny is considered the most powerful and sacred night during which people pray the whole night.
To mark the end of the month-long fast, Eid ul Fitr is celebrated. Apart from feasting, they pray and thank the Almighty for the strength to complete the Ramzan month successfully.