The Islamic holy month of Ramadan has arrived and the Muslims around the world are making preparations for it. Why do Muslims wake up in the early hours to do seher (meals before fajr) and why do they wait until sunset to break their fast. Nearly 2 billion Muslims in the world believe Ramadan is the holiest month in the year. It is a month in which the holy book of Islam, Qur’an, was revealed to the Holy Prophet (saw).
In Hijri calendar or Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle, Ramadan is the ninth month that commenced in 622 AD when Holy Prophet (saw) migrated from Mecca to Medina.
All this month, Muslims do not eat or drink from fajr to Maghrib (dawn to dusk). One of the five pillars of Islam is fasting. The other pillars of Islam are the shahadah (which is the declaration of faith), salat or namaz (the five daily prayers), zakat (charity or almsgiving), and Hajj the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Fasting gives Muslims an understanding of how poor and less privileged feel. They also constantly fight against to their lower self which is nothing but the selfish desires. The fasting is considered to increase patience, generosity towards others and closeness to Allah (SWT).
The Ramadan is also a time of gathering in communities. The Muslims invite their neighbors, relatives and friends to eat together at iftar (evening meal). They also recite special Tarawih prayers in jamaat (congregation). They give importance to reciting the Qur’an more often.
According to Islamic teachings, Healthy Muslim men and women are required to fast during the month. People who were unable to fast during Ramadan due to illness can make up the missed fasts later. But if a person is not in a condition to fast at all, specifically on health reasons, then he/she may compensate by feeding a needy person for each day they do not fast.
Scientists have discovered that short periods of fasting improves immune system and if controlled properly can have a number of health benefits, and potentially it also help overweight people.
The fasting helps in providing the human body right proportion of carbohydrates, fat and protein and it is advisable to restrain away from oily feasts just after breaking the fast. As a matter of fact it may lead to gaining weight.
During the fasting process, the body utilizes glucose and then slowly starts to burn fat, thus helping in losing weight. With prolonged fasting, for many days and months, the body will set out to use protein for energy. But fasting is not just staying away from food and drink, it is basically fighting with our ego and to understand the favors bestowed upon us by Allah Almighty.
At the end of the month, the festival of Ramadan is celebrated by Muslims worldwide is known as Eid al-Fitr. It falls on the first day of the new Islamic month of Shawwal and it is strictly forbidden to fast on this day. Because all those who fasted are rewarded by Allah (SWT) on this day, the angels call it the day of prize giving. The Muslims rejoice and greet each other with Eid Mubarak.
It is Islamic tradition to celebrate Eid al-Fitr with delicious sweet breakfast, and to give charity to needy people before going to Eid prayers. It is also important to attend the Eid prayers in congregation. Muslims celebrate the day of Eid by wearing new or clean clothes, giving gifts, and visiting relatives, friends and family.