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Ramadan: A History and Overview of Holy Month in Islam

The Importance and Significance of Ramadan (Ramazan): A Comprehensive Guide to the Holy Month in Islam

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed by Muslims worldwide as a time of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. It’s possible to spell Ramadan as Ramazan, Ramadhan, or Ramathan. One of the Five Pillars of Islam, the annual Ramadan observance honours Muhammad’s (PBUH) first revelation and lasts 29 to 31 days from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.

All adult Muslims who are not pregnant, menstruating, travelling, elderly, terminally ill, or suffering from a chronic illness are required to fast from sunrise to sunset. Iftar, the meal that ends the fast at midnight, and sahur, the meal that begins it, are two different meals. Notwithstanding fatwas that Muslims who live in regions with a midnight sun or polar night should follow Mecca’s schedule, it is common to use the calendar of the closest country where night and day can be distinguished. During Ramadan, it is said that fasting yields amplified spiritual benefits. Hence, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking as well as tobacco products, sexual relations, and other sinful behaviours during the hours of fasting, focusing instead on prayer and the recitation of the holy Quran.


The word “ramadan” derives from the Arabic root R-M-, which is the ancient verb “ramia,” which meaning to become extremely hot – to become burning, blazing, or brilliant. According to various hadiths, it is incorrect to refer to the month of Ramadan by its name alone and that it is necessary to specify “month of Ramadan,” as stated in sources from the Sunni, Shia, and Zaydi faiths. This is because some Muslims think that Ramadan is one of the names of Allah (SWT).


The Quran, which provides explicit proofs of the direction as well as standards for what is right and wrong, was revealed during the month of Ramadan. Anyone is present should observes a month long fast, and whomever is ill or travelling should observe a few additional days. Allah wants you to have it easy; He doesn’t want you to struggle. He also wants you to finish the time, praise Allah for guiding you, and maybe even be grateful.

“Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting.” Al-Baqara 2:185

The Torah, Psalms, Gospel, and Quran, according to Muslims, were transmitted on the first, sixth, twelfth, thirteenth, and, according to some accounts, eighteenth and twenty-fourth Ramadans, respectively. The Muslim belief is that all of scripture was revealed during Ramadan. On Laylat al-Qadr, one of the five nights with an odd number that fall during the final 10 days of Ramadan, Muhammad (PBUH) is claimed to have received his first revelation from the holy Qur’an. 

Muslims believe that fasting has always been necessary for believers to achieve taqwa, despite the fact that they were first instructed to do so in the second year of Hijra (624 CE), the beginning of the monotheistic era (the fear of God). They make reference to the pre-Islamic pagan inhabitants of Mecca who fasted on the tenth day of Muharram in order to atone for their sins and prevent drought. According to Philip Jenkins’ theory, which has been supported by other academics, the practise of fasting during Ramadan originated from “the rigid Lenten discipline of the Syrian Churches.

The Battle of Badr, which was the first conflict between the Muslims of Medina and the pagan inhabitants of Mecca, is another important historical event that occurred this month. The Muslims prevailed in the battle, which took place in 624 CE in modern-day Saudi Arabia, and is described in the holy Quran and recounted in Hadiths.

Observing Fast in Ramadan

The month of Ramadan is a time for introspection, growth, and increased worship. Muslims are obliged to work harder to adhere to Islamic beliefs. Dawn to dusk mark the beginning and end of the fast (sawm). Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and engaging in sinful speech or behaviour during the month-long fast of Ramadan in addition to these other prohibitions. Fasting is thought to refocus the heart away from earthly pursuits with the intention of purifying the soul by releasing it from damaging impurities. Muslims believe that Ramadan instills in them the virtues of self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for the poor, which promotes acts of compassion and required almsgiving.

Night of the Future (Lailat ul Qadr Night)

It is said that Qadr Night is the most sacred night of the year. The Dawoodi Bohra believe that Lailat al-Qadr was the twenty-third night of Ramadan. It is generally accepted that it took place on an odd-numbered night during the final ten days of Ramadan.

Surah Al-Qadr (Surah 97 – The Power) describes the Night of Power when the Qur’an was first revealed

“We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power: And what will explain to thee what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God’s permission, on every errand: Peace!…This until the rise of morn!” (Surah Al-Qadr 97:1-5)

Suhour and Iftaar

When Ramadan arrives, the “white thread becomes distinguished from the black thread” (Al-Baqarah 2:187) and the fast lasts until dusk. Most Muslims get up early to eat Suhour, an early supper. Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke, or engage in sexual activity when they are fasting. The meal prepared to end the fast is known as Iftar and is seen to be a time for families to meet together and break bread. It is said that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) broke his fast with a date at the end of each day, a habit that is widely practised among many Muslims.

Even though fasting is required, many people are exempt from doing so. It is not expected of the elderly, the sick, the travelling, the menstrual, or the expectant women to keep the fast. However, they are obligated to make up an equivalent number of days later in the year because fasting is a form of worship. For each day missed, those who are unable to do so must feed a hungry person.

“Every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties.” Al-Baqara 2:185

Prayers and Zakat

Muslims believe that the month of Ramadan offers the best rewards of the year for their good deeds and aspirations. This is founded in part on the notion that during this month, the gates of heaven are opened while they are closed for hell.

“When Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains.” narrated by Abu Hurayrah

Although while these prayers are not required, they are highly encouraged. Throughout this month, there are prolonged nocturnal prayers known as taraweeh during which lengthy passages of the holy Quran are recited. As during these prayers believers sit for brief intervals of relaxation before continuing their prayer, the name taraweeh is derived from the Arabic word for rest.

The third pillar of Islam, Zakat, which obligates Muslims to give to the poor and needy, is also paid by Muslims during the month. Although Zakat can be paid at any time of the year, those who can usually pay it do so during the month of Ramadan.

Many Muslims spend the final 10 days of Ramadan in solitude, or aitikaf, for prayer and meditation in search of Lailut ul-Qadar, also known as the Night of Decision. According to Islam, today marks the anniversary of the night when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received the first verses of the Quran. It is also thought that on this night, people’s fate for the coming year is decided, and many people use this night to pray to God. This night’s exact date is unknown, however it is generally acknowledged that it falls within the final 10 days of the month. It is said to be more satisfying to spend this night in prayer than a thousand months of dedication.

Calendar Of Muslims

The lunar calendar used by Islam, which is thought to have started in the year 622 A.D. Islamic holy days typically move eleven days early each year because of its twelve lunar months, each of which is approximately 354 days long and corresponds to the Gregorian calendar. It is eleven days shorter than the solar year. The day following the Hijra, when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) fled from Mecca to Medina, was the first day of the Islamic calendar. 1429 is the current Islamic year.

Nightly Prayers (Tarawih/Qayam ul Lail)

During the month of Ramadan, additional nocturnal prayers known as Tarawih/Qayam ul Lail are offered. They are not required, despite popular perception.

Recitation of the holy Quran Over the course of the thirty days of Ramadan, Muslims are urged to read the complete Quran, which is divided into thirty juz’ (sections). Some Muslims recite one juz’ during each of the thirty tarawih sessions held during the month.

Ramadan & Cultural Customs

The century-old Iftar Bazar is a landmark of Old Dhaka’s Chowk Bazaar district.

In some Islamic countries, lights are put up in public squares and across city streets, a tradition thought to have originated under the Fatimid Caliphate, where the authority of Caliph al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah was acclaimed by people holding lanterns.

Many Christians on the island of Java take Padusan, or holy spring baths, to get ready for fasting. The Dugderan carnival, which features the parade of the warak ngendog—a horse-dragon hybrid purportedly inspired by the Buraq—marks the start of Ramadan in the city of Semarang. Although they are technically forbidden, firecrackers are frequently used to celebrate Ramadan in Jakarta, the country’s capital with a strong Chinese influence. Most employees get a one-month bonus called Tunjangan Hari Raya around the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is a time when some foods are particularly popular, such as big beef or buffalo in Aceh and snails in Central Java. Every evening, the mosque’s enormous drum, known as the bedug, is struck to signal the start of the iftar meal.

Ramadan mubarak and Ramadan kareem, which respectively mean “have a blessed Ramadan” and “have a generous Ramadan,” are two common pleasantries used throughout this holy month. In order to get people up and ready for the suhour meal during Ramadan in the Middle East, a mesaharati plays a drum around a neighbourhood. The kentongan slit drum serves the similar function in Southeast Asia. On the 15th night of Ramadan, children in Gulf nations don traditional clothing and knock on doors to collect treats and nuts from neighbours.

On the 15th night of Ramadan, children in Gulf nations don traditional clothing and knock on doors to collect treats and nuts from neighbours.

Fasts Observing Rates

A 2012 Pew Research Centre, research found that most people observed Ramadan, with a median of 93 percent across the 39 countries and territories examined. Muslims are more likely to fast in Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the majority of Sub-Saharan Africa. In Southeast Europe and Central Asia, the percentages are lower.


In Ramadan eating in public during the day is illegal in some Muslim nations. In Egypt, the selling of alcohol is outlawed during Ramadan. In Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria, and Malaysia, you can be fined or imprisoned for eating, drinking, or smoking in public while it’s Ramadan. Community service is the sanction in the United Arab Emirates.

On the other hand, government restrictions on Ramadan observance have been imposed in various nations. Ramadan customs were prohibited in the USSR by state decree. Ramadan celebrations were outlawed in Albania during the Soviet era. But many Albanians kept fasting covertly throughout this time.

According to Radio Free Asia, inhabitants of Kashgar Prefecture were allegedly encouraged to inform the authorities of anyone who observed Ramadan fasting. As a result, China is said to have forbade officials, students, and teachers in Xinjiang from doing the same. Both Muslim organisations in Xinjiang and Chinese diplomats have refuted the prohibition. Accounts of people in Xinjiang fasting have also been mentioned by Antara News, Daily Times, and Pakistan Today.

Modified work schedules are mandated in several nations. Employees are only allowed to work a maximum of six hours per day and 36 hours per week in the UAE. Laws in Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait are comparable.

Ramadan & Effects on Health

Ramadan fasting has a variety of health benefits. Fasting during Ramadan is seen as risk-free for healthy people, but it might be dangerous for those who already have specific medical issues. Most Islamic scholars agree that people who are unwell are exempt from the fasting requirement. The elderly and young children before puberty are also spared from fasting. Women who are nursing or pregnant are also excused from fasting during Ramadan. Fasting during pregnancy carries known health hazards, such as the possibility of an induced labour and gestational diabetes.

Fasting during Ramadan has various health advantages, such as improving insulin sensitivity and lowering insulin resistance. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that subjects with a history of cardiovascular disease experience a significant improvement in their 10-year coronary heart disease risk score as well as other cardiovascular risk factors like their lipid profile, systolic blood pressure, weight, BMI, and waist circumference. Weight loss during the fasting phase is typically quite small, although weight gain is possible later.

It is connected to heavy food and water consumption during Suhour and Iftaar in many cultures, which might be more harmful than helpful. Fasting during Ramadan is safe for healthy people as long as they consume enough food and liquids overall. Nevertheless, persons with medical concerns should consult a doctor if they have any health issues before or during the fast.

In an effort to prevent students from fasting during Ramadan, the education departments of Berlin and the United Kingdom contend that abstaining from food and liquids might impair focus and result in poor academic performance.

According to an Iranian group’s review of the literature, fasting during Ramadan might cause renal damage in patients with moderate or severe kidney disease (GFR 60 ml/min), but it is not harmful to renal transplant recipients with healthy kidneys or the majority of patients who develop kidney stones.

Ramadan : In polar locations

According to the summer or winter solstices of the Sun, the time from sunrise to sunset varies around the world. Throughout Ramadan, the majority of Muslims fast for eleven to sixteen hours. The amount of time between sunrise and sunset, however, might approach 22 hours in polar regions during the summer. For instance, Muslims in Reykjavik, Iceland, and Trondheim, Norway fasted for nearly twenty-two hours in 2014, compared to only about eleven hours in Sydney, Australia. Some Muslims observe the fasting schedule followed in the closest city that experiences dawn and sunset, while others observe Mecca time, in regions that are defined by continuous night or day.

Ramadan : In-orbit

Muslim space travellers plan their religious observances around the time zone of their most recent Earthly location. For instance, an astronaut from Malaysia launching from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center would concentrate their fast around Florida’s Eastern Time dawn and sunset. This includes sunset and sunrise during Ramadan, as well as the times for daily prayers.

Working during Ramadan

Muslims still go to work during Ramadan, but in certain nations—like Oman and Lebanon—the hours are reduced. Given the possibility that the practise could affect employees’ effectiveness at work, it is frequently advised that working Muslims let their employers know if they are fasting. Each nation has a different level of religious tolerance for those who observe Ramadan. In both the UK and the US, discrimination claims have been made in response to policies that disadvantage them relative to other employees. According to a report in Arab News, Saudi Arabian companies were dissatisfied with the shorter workweeks during Ramadan, with some citing a 35–50% reduction in production. To encourage working longer hours, the Saudi corporations proposed giving salary bonuses. Despite the drop in productivity, Ramadan’s heightened demand allows for higher profit margins for retailers.

Eid ul Fitr and Eid prayers

When a crescent new moon is observed, or at the completion of thirty days of fasting if no moon sighting is available, Eid al-Fitr Arabic:, which signifies the end of Ramadan and the start of Shawwal, the following lunar month, is declared. Eid commemorates the return to more natural eating, drinking, and marital intimate habits.

Final Thoughts 

The holy month of Ramadan is one of the most important times in the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims around the world fast from dawn until sunset as a way of purifying their souls and strengthening their faith.

Ramadan is believed to be the month during which the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, and it is a time for increased prayer, reflection, and acts of charity.

In addition to fasting, Muslims also engage in spiritual practices such as reading the Quran, attending mosque, and performing acts of kindness and generosity.

The end of Ramadan is marked by the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, a joyous holiday that involves feasting, gift-giving, and spending time with family and friends.

Throughout history, Ramadan has played an important role in the development and spread of Islam, and it continues to be a time of great significance and meaning for millions of people around the world.

Written by Muhammad Ishaq