Ramadan is a blessed month of the Islamic calendar. It is the ninth month of the lunar year. It comes after the month of Sha’ban and is followed by the month of Shawwal. Allah Almighty has given precedence to it over the rest of the months of the year because it is the month in which the verses of the Quran were revealed. This is the month of forgiveness, expiation for sins and emancipation from Hell. This is the month of fasting, reciting the Holy Quran and also the month of charity and alms.
Ramadan is the month in which the doors of Paradise are opened, the doors of Hell are locked, our supplications are answered, degrees are raised and Satan is chained up. The reward of our worships and good deeds in this holy month is multiplied many times as compared to the other months. Most importantly, there comes a night in this month which is more valuable than thousands of months. Allah has obligated fasting throughout the month and therefore, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) termed fasting as one of the five pillars of Islam. There are many Hadiths that imply the significance of worships in this month.
Abu Huraira(R) narrated that Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever stands (in the voluntary night prayer of) Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven. And whoever spends the night of Lailat Al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 5027) [Sahih]
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih Al Bukhari 38) [Sahih]
But, one should not observe fast one or two days before Ramadan. One could continue to fast only if one observes fast on a weekly or monthly basis throughout the year, following Prophet’s(ﷺ) sunnah and the day falls one or two days before Ramadan.
Aishah(R) narrated: “The Prophet used to try to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.” (Tirmidhi 745) [Sahih]
Abu Huraira(R) reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Do not observe fast for a day, or two days ahead of Ramadan except a person who is in the habit of observing a particular fast; he may fast on that day.” (Sahih Muslim 1082a) [Sahih]
Table of Contents
- Spiritual and physical benefits of “Siam”
- Medical benefits of Ramadan
- Who is obliged to fast?
- Ethics followed in Ramadan
- Ramadan (the month of struggle)
- Eid ul-Fitr
- End Note
Spiritual and physical benefits of “Siam”
Siam (fasting) has many benefits like refinement and purification of the soul from bad morals, accustoming to decent morals such as patience, tolerance, generosity and benefaction. A fasting person must not utter any unfair word carelessly which might hurt anyone. If he hears someone saying any bad words about him, he will only respond by saying “I am fasting”.
Fasting means not only abstaining from eating and drinking for some time but also abstaining from all the things which are forbidden in Islam.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink.” (Sahih Al Bukhari 6057) [Sahih]
Ramadhan teaches the fasting person that he is the servant of Allah(S.W.T) and is very weak in the eyes of Allah(S.W.T). It reminds him of the needs of his poor brothers and hungry people. It enhances the human feeling of the need as the fasting person feels the intensity of hunger and thirst they suffer from.
Not only that, but it also reminds him of the great blessings of Allah(S.W.T) upon him and brings him closer to Allah(S.W.T) and his creations. It develops the social responsibility of the individual and the society by helping them, visiting orphanages and taking part in charitable and voluntary work. It teaches us compassion, altruism and cooperation. It spreads the fragrance of love, mercy and tolerance in the society while the congregational prayers and charitable deeds create a pleasant atmosphere all around. Furthermore, it urges self-abstinence in this world and increases it’s desire and appetite for the good Hereafter.
Medical benefits of Ramadan
Ramadan is a period of solitude, self-review and a break from the anxieties of life. Similarly, Ramadan and siam(fasting) bring many medical benefits besides religious and social benefits.
Few medical benefits are:
(1) One of the physical benefits of fasting is that it helps to lose weight. If the fasting person throughout Ramadan is accustomed to being having less than the usual amount of food, it will help him lose more weight even after Ramadan.
(2) Fasting from eating and drinking relaxes the stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder and helps to solve digestive problems. It gives the liver a room to empty out to purify the blood from harmful and toxic substances.
(3) It promotes cardiovascular health and reduces blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood.
(4) It improves the functional index of lymphocytes, increases the number of white blood cells and strengthens the immune system.
(5) Fasting helps us get rid of smoking and tobacco addiction too.
Who is obliged to fast?
Fasting in the whole month of Ramadan is an obligatory duty for every adult Muslim, both men and women.
Allah(S.W.T) says: “O those who believe, fasting is obligated for you, as it was obligated for those before you, so that you may become pious.” (Al-Quran 2:183)
Fasting is not obligatory for children before puberty. However, it is allowed to the ones who are capable of it and want to fast and if they do so, their fasting will be counted as superfluous.
It is not obligatory for the travellers to fast but he has the choice to fast. If he chooses not to fast, then he must compensate for that after Ramadan.
Those who break their fast due to suffering from any temporary but severe illness, will have to accomplish, while those who are unable to fast due to permanent illness or being elderly are exempt.
Fasting is also not required for menstruating women and women in postpartum and they have to make up after Ramadan.
Ethics followed in Ramadan
Sahari, also known as Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal that is eaten before the prayer of Fajr and considered to be the beginning of the fast. It gives the power of continuity to fast.
Muslims break their fast at sunset with dates or water.
It is desirable to give the invitation of Iftar to those who are fasting because it is a source of affection and intimacy among the Muslims and a great opportunity to achieve the reward of feeding the food.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever provides the food for a fasting person to break his fast with, then for him is the same reward as his (the fasting person’s), without anything being diminished from the reward of the fasting person.” (Tirmidhi 807) [Sahih]
It means to devote oneself to the worship of Allah(S.W.T) in a specific place in the last ten days of Ramadan.
Aisha(R) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan.” (Bukhari 2020) [Sahih]
(4) Lailatul Qadar
It means the Night of Power, Decree or Measures. Worships in this night are equal to be worshipping thousand nights.
As mentioned in Al-Quran:
لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌۭ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍۢ
– “The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months.” (Al-Quran 97:3)
Any odd night of the last ten days in Ramadan could be the “Lailatul Qadr”.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.” (Bukhari 2017) [Sahih]
Aisha(R) narrated: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (ﷺ) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. (Bukhari 2024) [Sahih]
That’s why the Muslims remain awake the whole night in the last five odd nights of Ramadan and they perform prayers, remembrance of Allah(S.W.T), reciting the Quran and supplications, especially:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ كَرِيمٌ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي
Translation:“Allahumma innaka afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fa’fu anni.”
Meaning: ‘O Allah, indeed You are Pardoning, You love to pardon, so pardon me.’
Because this is the best Dua to make on the Night of Decree.
Aisha(R) narrated: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is your view if I know when the Night of Al-Qadr is, then what should I say in it?” He said: ‘Say: “O Allah, indeed You are Pardoning, [Generous,] You love pardon, so pardon me (Allāhumma innaka `Afuwwun [Karīmun], tuḥibbul-`afwa fa`fu `annī).’” (Tirmidhi 3513) [Sahih]
(5) Recitation of the Holy Quran and Taraweeh
Allah Almighty sent down the Qur’an in the month of Ramadan for the guidance of people.
The Almighty says: “The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down as guidance for mankind with clear proofs of guidance and the criterion by which to distinguish right from wrong. Therefore, whoever of you is present in that month, let him fast the whole month; but he who is ill or on a journey shall fast a similar number of days later on.” (Quran 2:185)
That is why the Muslims are keen to read Al-Quran, to follow what is mentioned in it and to recite it in every night of Ramadan.
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) prescribed his followers in the month of Ramadan, the night prayer which is called Taraweeh and Qiyaamul Lail, and set a lot of reward for it.
Ramadan is the season of repentance as the gates of Hell are closed. Allah Almighty forgives those who repent to him with sincerity. However, Ramadan is the month of forgiveness. In Ramadan, we perform many things that help us attain the forgiveness from Allah. Fasting, prayers, charity, dhikr, remembrance of Allah and reciting the Holy Qur’an are the best sources of being forgiven by Allah(S.W.T) that we perform punctually in this month. So, the whole month is an opportunity to get free from Hellfire and to purify the soul from the dirt and taints of sins.
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The five daily prayers, and from one Jumu’ah prayer to the next Jumu’ah prayer, and from Ramadan to Ramadan are expiations for the (sins) committed in between (their intervals); provided the major sins are not committed”. (Sahih Muslim: 233) [Sahih]
It is desirable for the Muslim to do Dhikr, the remembrance of Allah and pray a lot in the month of Ramadan because the doors of the Jannah are opened and supplications are answered.
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “Three supplications are answered: that of a fasting person, that of one who has been wronged, and that of a traveller.” (Sahihul Jame: 3030)
(8) Zakat-ul Fitr
It’s an obligatory charity which must be given in Ramadan before Eid prayer. It is necessary to distribute 2.5 kgs of food items among the poor. It’s equal to be paid by male, female, old and young even by a newborn child. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prescribed the charity (alms) related to the breaking of the fast as a purification of the fasting person from what may happen to him from speech and slips of the tongue and unacceptable sayings, in addition to that it contains food for the poor and needy.
If anyone pays it before the prayer of Eid, it will be accepted as a specific charity named “Zakat-ul Fitr” or “Sadaqatul Fitr”. If anyone pays it after the prayer, that will be a charity like other charities (not as Zakat-ul Fitr). (Abu Dawood:1609) [Hasan]
[Also know: Rulings of Zakatul Fitr]
Ramadan (the month of struggle)
The exciting thing about Ramadan is that most of the battles led during this month brought victory over the whims of the mind and soul and against the enemy. However, it is pretty disappointing that the Muslims of our era spend this auspicious month in laziness and indolence. They spend days sitting idle while they devote their nights to eating, drinking and nonsense activities.
For this purpose, we want to mention some events of victorious Islamic history that took place in the month of Ramadan.
(1) Battle of Badr (2AH/624AD)
Among the critical battles, the Battle of Badr took place on the 17th of Ramadan after two years of migration of Muhammad (ﷺ) to Medina, i.e. 13 March 624AD. The number of Muslims in this battle was only 313 against one thousand soldiers.
(2) Conquest of Mecca (8AH/629AD)
It took place on 20 Ramadan 8AH/ 11 December 629AD. This conquest was held with no war.
(3) Expedition of Tabuk (9AH/630AD)
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) went out on an expedition against Rome, the most powerful government of the world at that time, in Rajab 9AH/October 630, and it extended to Ramadan.
(4) Battle of Buwaib (13AH/634AD)
It was fought between Musannah bin Haris by Caliph Umar and Mihran bin Badhan by the side of the Sassanian Empire on 12 Ramadhan 13AH/9 November AD.
(5) Treaty of Baqt (31AH/651AD)
It was held between the Kingdom of Makuria and the Islamic State under Caliph Uthman bin Affan, may Allah be pleased with him.
(6) Conquest of Hispania (92AH/711AD)
It was a military campaign that began in 92AH/711AD against the Visigothic Kingdom of Spain in the Iberian Peninsula. Tariq bin Ziyad, the commander of the military campaign, crossed the mountain with his soldiers while entering Spain on Rajab 92AH; the mountain is known as Gibraltar. Roderick’s and Tariq’s armies met on 28 Ramadan 92AH/17 July 711AD at Laka Valley. Muslims defeated Roderick’s army. This conquest marked the beginning of Umayyad Caliphate rule into Europe, which spanned nearly 800 years.
(7) War of Amorium (223AH/838AD)
Mutasimbillah prepared an army against the Byzantine in response to the cry of a Muslim woman. He stormed his camp, besieging Amorium on 5 Ramadan 223AH/ 1 August 838AD.
(8) Battle of Hattin (583AH/1187AD)
Salahuddin Ayyubi defeated the Crusaders on 26 Ramadan and liberated Jerusalem after it had been under their control for 90 years.
(9) Battle of Mansurah (647AH/1250AD)
It was fought against Louis IX of France.
(10) Battle of Ain Jalut (658AH/1260AD)
It was fought on 25 Ramadan 658AH/ 3 September 1260 AD against Mongolians (Tatars) who killed Muslims and destroyed their homes along the road from Mongolia to Palestine.
These are some momentary glances over Muslims’ victories achieved in the state of fasting. Muslims not only conquered these battles, but many more wars in the month of Ramadan. These kinds of historical facts tell us that there is no difference between fasting and struggling. The difficulty of fasting does not make a person weak but it energizes him with the power to conquer in the battleground of evils in daily life just as a person control his desire to eat and to drink during fasting.
In Ramadan, the first battle is fought between a person and himself. If he is defeated, he will not be able to achieve victory over others. If he overcomes himself, his victory over others will be more effortless. At that time, he gets a determination without limits, a will that breaks all barriers, strength to achieve the impossible, a courage to dispel all obsessions, a boldness that challenges all obstacles and ambition to reap victory.
The month of Ramadan is a month of fighting against desires and overcoming them because fasting means not only refraining from eating and drinking; instead, it means that all physical faculties should refrain from disobeying Allah.
Our brothers and sisters are becoming upset after seeing the opposite direction against Islam all over the world. They should strive to overcome it this Ramadan by presenting true Islam likewise our forefathers did in the wars of falsehood, and they succeeded in them.
Ramadan is an opportunity to fulfil genuine hopes and accomplish deeds, and it is not for rest, laziness and lethargy. We can take advantage of this opportunity to achieve our goals by worshipping more than usual.
At the end of Ramadan, Eid ul-fitr is celebrated. It is the most auspicious occasion in the Islamic calendar. It is an occasion when the hearts of the people fasting are filtered and all impurities are removed from the soul. The negative thoughts that hang in the mind are purified and give hope for a better and prosperous future. What makes it more special is that everyone exchanges congratulations on Eid. If there are residues of strife or grudge in the hearts even after Ramadan, they slip away and disappear on Eid, if there is frowning in the faces, the Eid brings joy to the souls and smiles to the faces.
On this day, every person should disassociate himself from conceit and ostentation so that he does not consider himself to be richer, wealthier, or better than others. The rich, no matter how much money he has, must not believe that he is better than the poor, because the criterion of superiority in Islam is Taqwa (fear of Allah(S.W.T)).
On the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, all Muslims gather at the place of Eid prayers (Musalla/Eid Gah) for worship. The same words of Takbir and Tahmid, Tasbeeh and Tahlil are uttered on everyone’s tongue. By the command of Allah(S.W.T), after fasting for a month, the servants of Allah(S.W.T) come to the place of Eid seeking His mercy and forgiveness. Every Muslim is overjoyed to see this soul-stirring scene.
[Know more: Eid-ul-Fitr]
The month of Ramadan is a training month by which Muslims are commanded that they have to spend eleven months in the same way that they have spent the month of Ramadan. Islam wants to say that by enduring hunger and thirst in this month, one can understand the hunger and thirst of others.
Ramadan teaches that just as you open the door for the poor, the needy in this month, so also keep your door open for the other eleven months to help the poor and needy. Just as you meet people with an open heart on Eid, so do you meet them with an open heart and with joy throughout the year.
Lastly, we pray to Allah(S.W.T) to grant us straight-forwardness and continuity of patience and good deeds in Ramadan, and after Ramadan and make our Eid gleeful and joyous.
Credits: Brother Abdur Rahman Alamgir