Durban - Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and holds great spiritual significance for Muslims across the globe.
It is characterised by fasting during the day, which includes complete abstention from consuming food and drink from dawn to dusk and additional prayer during the night.
Explaining the purpose of the fast, the Qu’ran states: “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before so that you may attain taqwa” (Qur’an, Chapter 2, verse 183).
Taqwa is defined as piety, devotion to the Almighty and being conscious of Him in our daily lives.
Ramadan, in reality, is a training period to build courage and steadfastness in serving the Almighty, while strengthening one’s resolve to refrain from sin.
The fast is not merely about abstaining from food and drink.
It is rather an abstention from every act that is evil or immoral.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said: “He who does not refrain from sinful words and sinful deeds, the Almighty has no need for him to refrain from his food and drink.”
The month of Ramadan has a special attachment to the Qu’ran, the book every Muslim believes to be God’s final revelation to humanity.
Muslims, therefore, strive to complete at least one complete recitation of the Qu’ran during the month of Ramadan.
It is not uncommon for Muslims to complete multiple recitations of the Qu’ran during this month.
During the nights of Ramadan, an additional prayer called the taraweeh prayer is performed.
During this prayer, the entire Qu’ran is recited from memory by a haafiz (person who has memorised the Qu’ran) in segments, with the completion of the Qu’ran generally occurring on the 27th or 29th night of Ramadan.
Ramadan also teaches us sympathy and compassion for the poorer segment of the community.
It is natural that when you personally experience the difficulty of another, you begin to truly appreciate their suffering.
The hunger and thirst that the fasting person willingly endures is a reality that millions are forced to bear every day of their lives.
This experience translates into practical expressions of charity and Ramadan is therefore the most charitable month in the life of a Muslim.
A typical day in the life of a Muslim in Ramadan commences by awakening in the early hours of the morning for the predawn meal, which is called sehri or suhoor.
This is followed by individual prayer and supplication to the Almighty.
Shortly after the break of dawn, a Muslim will attend the mosque for the early morning congregational prayer.
The day continues with fasting, taking out time to read the Qu’ran and focusing one’s thoughts on the Almighty.
Sunsets heralds the end of the fast with Muslims eagerly awaiting the adhan, the call to prayer, at the time of sunset which signifies the end of the fast.
The breaking of the fast is called Iftaar and dates and water are normally the first foods consumed.
After the maghrib (post-sunset) prayer, the family dines together for the first proper meal of the day.
After a short rest, the time for the isha (night) prayer arrives followed by the taraweeh prayer.
This is generally followed by a light meal and retirement for the night.
A Ramadan spent with due reverence is a spiritually uplifting experience.
It fosters kindness and compassion for one’s fellow man and devotion and love for one’s Creator.
The Jamiatul Ulama KZN wishes all Muslims a blessed Ramadan followed by a joyous day of Eid.
Ramadan is expected to commence on Thursday with Eid on June 15 pending the sighting of the moon.
Further additional information on Ramadan, visit www.jamiat.org.za.