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Ramadan: Regaining Focus
By Sarah Lane
Feb 3, 2006, 11:46 PST

Ramadan begins on the first day of the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The beginning of the Islamic lunar months depends on the sighting of the new moon. This means that the official start and end dates of Ramadan will vary from year to year. Ramadan begins on the first day after the first sighting of the new crescent moon, or hilal. In some years, the moons’ crescent first appears on different days in different locations. The debate over when Ramadan begins and ends gets harder to resolve as the Muslim population continues to spread across the globe.

During this ninth month it is believed that the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were sent down from Allah and revealed to the last of the prophets, Muhammad. The receiving of the Holy Qur’an is to the Muslims what the Ten Commandments are to the Jews and Christians. Muslims consider the Qur’an to be God’s speech recorded in the Arabic language and transmitted to humanity through Muhammad. On Ramadan Muslims celebrate the ‘Night of Power’ when Muhammad was first called to become Allah’s messenger. This is when he received the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. When the month is over and the next month (Shawwal) begins, it’s celebrated for three days with a holiday called Id-al-Fitr, or the Feast of Fast Breaking. The Feast of the Fast Breaking will fall exactly one month after the celebration of Ramadan begins. Gifts are exchanged at this time and everyone prays in congregation.

There are important rules to follow during this month such as no eating, drinking, smoking, or sexual relations during the day light hours. Fasting is the third of the five Pillars of religious obligation of Islam. The purpose of this third Pillar is to learn discipline, self control, generosity, and purity while obeying Allah’s commandments. Worshipers hope to attain piety and a heightened consciousness of Allah as a result of the lack of preoccupation with bodily appetites. Fasting is also a way of experiencing hunger to develop sympathy for the less fortunate and to learn thankfulness and appreciation for Allah’s bounties.

It is especially bad to tell a lie, slander, denounce someone behind his back, repeat a false oath, or experience greed or covetousness during Ramadan. All the good acquired through fasting is destroyed by these five things. Over 1.2 billion Muslims from around the world will take part in this years’ celebration of Ramadan. Muslim nonprofits receive most of their money from the Ramadan holiday collection of Zakat which is an obligatory donation of 2.5% of a family’s savings.

Source: Holidays on the Net, San Francisco Chronicle, Media Review Network (MRN), Independant Online, Newsday, Abdullah Vawda - Researcher for MRN

Additonal Learning Links for Ramadan

The Essentials of Ramadan
Review the essentials of Ramadan, the Fasting Month, here. Find out who fasts and why, and what each day of the month represents. Research the Night of Power or duties after Ramadan.
Source:       Da ‘awah Enterprises International, Inc.

Ramadan Information Center
Experience ‘Ramadan Around the World.’ This original program features Quran and Hadith tafseer, fasting practices from around the world, food, health, and quizzes. Also connect to ‘Zakat Online.’

A Month of Fasting for Muslims
This article explains the month of Ramadan, its importance to Muslims, why Muslims fast, and gives answers to frequently asked questions. Learn about special events and traditional practices.
Source:       Abdullah Vawda, MRN

Ramadan on the Net
An excellent resource for kids, this site gives you the historical background of Ramadan, a brief look at the Muslim faith, the five duties of the Islam religion, as Islamic Calendar, and links to more resources.
Source:       Holidays on the Net

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