Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, a period of 30 days, usually in early April. Its basis is that it is one of the five “pillars of Islam:” fasting and spiritual growth, declaration of faith, alms-giving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Able-bodied Muslims are expected to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn to dusk each day. Many practicing Muslims also perform additional prayers, especially at night, and attempt to recite the entire Qur’an. The prevailing belief among Muslims is that it was in the final 10 nights of Ramadan that the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
Ramadan is somewhat comparable to the Christian faith’s Lent, also a period of abstinence and sacrifice. It is through the observation of Ramadan that Muslims hope to draw nearer to God. The abstinence and sacrifice are intended to remind practitioners of the suffering of the less fortunate. Therefore, it is a time when donations are made to charities.
The fasting of Ramadan has spiritual as well as physical benefits: detoxification of the body, mood enhancement, increased mental acuity, regulation of bad cholesterol, appetite control and reduction, improved control and management of desire and greater inculcation of spiritual values like God-consciousness, thankfulness and patience. The purpose of fasting is to develop the quality of righteousness by abstaining from sinful deeds and training oneself to improve self-control. The elderly, travellers, pregnant women and pre-puberty aged children are exempted from the Ramadan practices.
It is a period of joyous celebration for Muslims.