Wednesday, August 23, 2017 | ePaper

Celebrating Ramzan

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Life Desk :
Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the beginning and end of the month is marked by a new moon.
According to Islamic history, it was in this month that Allah passed wisdom to the prophet that was compiled in the first few verses of the Quran (Koran), the holy book of Islam, which contains the code of conduct all Muslims live by. Following is a way of celebrating and respecting the Prophet and focusing on spiritual growth.
Ramzan is a time for those following it to practise self-restraint. Refraining from food is just one of the aspects, which is why it's often only associated with fasting. One should refrain from all things earthly and 'impure' during daylight or fasting hours. Besides food and drink, sexual activity, negative thoughts, lies, unkindness, and all sorts of negativity fall under this category; it's quite open to interpretation.
This restraint is one of the five main pillars; one of the core principles of Islam. It is 'sawm' in Arabic; the word itself is often translated as fasting rather than restraint. The other five pillars are shahadah, a profession of faith; ?alat, ritual prayer; zakat, obligatory alms to benefit the poor and the needy, and hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
But it's not simply about restraint; it's also a time for spiritual reflection, prayer and devotion. People observing the fast are supposed to hold back from impure thoughts and actions and focus on positive and godly ones. Besides prayer and reflection, positive actions such as charity or volunteering are encouraged. One is advised to read the Quran(Koran) in entirety and reflect on its teachings.
During this month, from sunrise to sunset, one has to practice this self-restraint and attempt some spiritual growth. The day begins with Fajr, the first prayer and there are several other prayers during the day; after sunset is Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast. Traditionally Iftar starts with dates as Muhammad broke fast with three dates however, it's not necessary to follow the same. In many places Iftar parties are common, with food served plentifully in buffets and celebrations lasting late.
The last time to eat is right before dawn and this pre-dawn meal is called suhur. Suhur must stop before the sun rises and often those practising wake up early for it. It's followed by Fajr, post sunrise.
There are individual and cultural differences to the practise but basic traditions are quite common. Due to the low caloric and nutritional intake, normal day to day functions can get affected and many countries where the population is primarily Muslim have working hour allowances; though work is never entirely stopped for balance between worship and work is encouraged by Prophet Muhammad (m).
All Muslims must practice this post puberty though there are some exceptions. Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating are exempted as are those too young, too old, unwell (physically or mentally) and even those travelling. All are expected to make up for the days they didn't fast after and some forgo fasting in favour of charity.
Ramazan ends with a three day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast. It's time for celebration with friends, family and other loved ones. Lavish meals and presents are often exchanged. Charity and arms are often given more on these days as well.
Courtesy- TNN

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