Ramadan, the month of ritual fasting, is a special and blessed period for Muslims. It was the month in which the revelations of the Qur’an descended from Allah, through Jibra’il (the Angel of Revelation, Gabriel), to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As this was the starting point of Muhammad (PBUH) becoming a prophet and Messenger, it should also be a Muslim’s starting point to becoming an upholder and follower of the message of Islam.
The essence of Ramadan is the changing of one’s ways to become a better person, one who remains conscious of God throughout his or her life.
”Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain piety.”Qur’an 2:183
As with any act of worship, fasting requires obedience and submission to Allah’s commands through the highest degree of commitment and sincerity. Every year during the month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the lunar calendar), Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, abstaining from three key human needs – food, drink and sexual relations. One should also abstain from all sinful actions.
Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory on every physically and mentally capable adult Muslim. Children, the sick, the mentally unfit, the elderly, menstruating women, and travellers are exempt.
Some benefits of fasting:
Promotes spiritual self-purification and growth.
Scientifically proven health benefits.
Sympathy for those less fortunate, prompting more charity.
A means of learning self-restraint and patience.
Purifies the soul and helps it acquire the habit of obeying Allah by restraining desires, and promotes steadfastness.
Creates an increased feeling of unity and collective identity amongst those fasting.
Creates an increased awareness about the state of affairs across the globe and the hardships endured.
Forgiveness of sins. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “He who fasts Ramadan, with faith and hoping for reward (from Allah), then his past sins are forgiven.”