What is Ramadan:
For those of you who are not aware of what Ramadan is, now is the best time to find out.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
The term Ramadan literally means scorching in Arabic. It was established as a Holy Month for Muslims after the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE on the occasion known as Laylat al-Qadr, frequently translated as “the Night of Power.
Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. Muslims will wake up before the sunrise prayer (Fajr) and prepare a small yet filling meal called suhoor. Contrary to popular belief, one is not supposed to try and get a full day’s worth of calories and nutrients from this meal. It is supposed to be light enough to ward off immediate hunger, start one’s metabolism and give strength for worship.
It was narrated that Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Eat suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing.”
-Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1923; Muslim, 1095.
The fasting period ends when the call of prayer for Maghrib, or at sunset. Many celebrate the evening with friends, family or at the local masjid. Muslims will open their fast with dates, fruits, or water then proceed to praying the Maghrib prayer. Prayer is followed by more food- either snack type items or a full meal. Typically Muslims will invite friends, families and neighbors over for the breaking of the fast meal, Iftar.
Iftars are generally elaborate and reflective of the culture the person comes from.
In my household, our iftars range from fresh fruits and fruit juices, to fried spring rolls, samosas and then a traditional dinner if we are still hungry.
Following iftar and dinner are the evening prayers.
The Night Prayers:
Aside from the nightly Ishaa prayers, Ramadan comes with a special benefit- the Taraweeh ( Tarawih) prayers. The Taraweeh prayers can be prayed individually or in congregation behind an imam. These are voluntary prayers that can range between 8 to 20 rakats. During the prayers one will recite verses of the Quran.
If you go to a masjid to pray taraweeh with the imam, you can be a part of the recitation of the whole Quran from the 1st para to 30th para.
Some tips for Taraweeh prayer:
- Eat a light iftar. If you eat too much, you will most likely get very sleepy.
- Bring a drink. You have most likely fasted all day and haven’t had enough time to re-hydrate yourself. Grab a reusable bottle and fill it with cold water or juice so that between rakats you can drink from it.
- Dress comfortably. It’s recommended that you dress in your best clothing when you attend any prayer. It is your personal appointment with God and wouldn’t you want to look your best? That being said, don’t be uncomfortable in your attire. The nights are long and hot during the summer and praying in a crowded area will make it even more overwhelming.