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Understanding the Significance and Blessings of Ramadan

The monotheistic religion of Islam is built upon five pillars and these pillars are the basic duties of a Muslim. Just like every country has a set Constitution and every organization has it’s own Code of Conduct, Islam too has a set of prescribed duties that prepare a Muslim to obey God in all affairs of their life.

The five pillars are namely, Declaration of Faith (Shahadah), Prayer (Salah), Charity (Zakat), Fasting (Sawm) and Hajj (Pilgrimage to the House of Allah in Makkah). Fasting is the 4th pillar of Islam and is observed in the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims follow a lunar calendar, which is based on the cycle of the moon. A new lunar month begins with a crescent (new moon). Similar to the solar calendar, the lunar calendar has 12 months too. The months of a lunar calendar consist of 29 or 30 days. Therefore, Muslims fast for 29 or 30 days in Ramadan.

Significance of this Blessed Month

Ramadan is the month in which Allah (God in Arabic) sent the Holy Quran from the heavens to the earth. The last messenger, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) received the first revelation of the Quran, while he was meditating in the Cave of Hira situated in Mount Nur (Saudi Arabia). In the year 610, during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan, Angel Jibrail (Gabriel) appeared to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in his full angelic form and said, “Iqra! (Read)”

The Prophet informed him that he did not know how to read or write. Angel Jibrail (Gabriel) then asked Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to repeat the verses after him. “Read in and with the Name of your Lord, Who has created. Created human from a clot clinging to the wall of the womb. Read, and your Lord is the Most Generous, who has taught human by the pen. He has taught human that which he knew not.” (Surah Al-Alaq: Verses 1-5, Holy Quran) These revelations from Allah went on to form the Holy Quran.

Another significance of Ramadan is that all the previous scriptures were revealed in this month. Dawud (David) received the Zabur (Psalms), Musa (Moses) received the Tawrah (Torah) and Isa (Jesus) received the Injil (Gospel/Bible) during this month. All the previous scriptures carried the same monotheistic message – to believe in One God.

Blessings of Ramadan

“The month of Ramadan in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, and clear proofs for the guidance and Criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights the Crescent on the first night of the month of Ramadan should fast that month.” (Surah Al-Baqarah: Verse 185, Holy Quran) 

The month of Ramadan is a great favor from Allah. It is a month of goodness and wonderful blessings.

  • Ramadan is a month of Patience. Fasting helps us to protect our desires and develop discipline. We learn to suppress our hunger and anger. Fasting strengthens our character and makes us more patient.
  • Ramadan is a month of Sympathy. God gives us the opportunity to feel what the less fortunate people feel and go through. Fasting teaches us the value of food, importance of sharing and teaches us not to be greedy.
  • Ramadan is a month of Giving. It teaches us to be sympathetic towards the less fortunate and encourages us to give charity. Rewards for all good deeds, however small or big, are multiplied in the month of Ramadan.
  • The gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed. Even the devils are chained up this month, making man responsible for his own actions. Hence, this month gives us a good opportunity for Self-reflection.
  • Ramadan is a month of Forgiveness. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever observes fasting during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s reward (not to show off), then all his past sins will be forgiven.” – (Bukhari)
  • The Holy Night of Laylat-ul-Qadr, also know as the Night of Power, is a single night worth a thousand months of reward. This night falls among the last days of Ramadan and it is on this night that the Holy Quran was revealed. Any good deeds or acts performed on this night is equivalent to the reward for a thousand months. There are many acts of worship (prayer, remembrance of God, charity, supplications, etc.) that a person can do on this day to maximize their reward and blessings.

Understanding the Significance and Blessings of Ramadan

Learn More About the Muslim Culture through Reading

Learn More About the Muslim Culture through Reading

Being from Kuwait, I have seen Muslims celebrate Ramadan and Eid and even celebrated this Muslim festival of fasting. The book “Let’s celebrate Ramadan and Eid” still had a lot to teach me about the these two important aspects of the Muslim culture, even enlightening me (and of course my children) about how different cultures around the world celebrate the same days of fasting and festivities. I am constantly on the look out for books that help broaden my children’s world view and this book was a great way to introduce them to the Muslim culture.

No matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn through the Maya and Neel adventures.

I received this book from Ajanta Chakraborthy, an amazing content creator and am frankly so privileged to get first dibs on this amazing new addition to the Maya and Neel collection of books that imparts to the world the minute intricacies of sub cultures with the Indian ecosystem.

This book is another gem in the beautiful tapestry that Ajanta and her husband Vivek are creating for the world to explore and learn from. I have said it before and I say it again, the word glossary in the beginning is a great addition for families to learn a new language.

Maya and Neel take us on another unique adventure showing us through vivid illustrations and a welcoming story of diversity. They even let us peek into the lives of the Khan family. You really do not want to miss out on this trip around the world with these adorable twosome and their pet squirrel who also gives up peanuts to be one with the family that is hosting them.

The story totally enthralled my children and we have read it five times in the two days we have had it. I would say, if you have a question about the diversity with the Indian culture, Maya and Neel are your go to travel buddies.

If you have not already, there is no better time than now to start on this amazing series and pick up this great book to introduce to your children about Ramadan and Eid.

You can read more in detail about Ramadan and Girgian here and the many delicacies that are enjoyed during this festive time.

Make SURE to visit CultureGroove to find out what the dynamic duo are up to next. They often create amazing resources for parents everywhere so subscribe to stay updated to that as well.

Learn More About the Muslim Culture Through Reading

Also, Don’t Forget to Download the Internationally Bestselling Must Read Book for Multicultural Parents Everywhere

Ramadan - A Time for Reflection, A Time For Community

Ramadan – A Time for Reflection, A Time For Community

prayers at sunset during ramadan at Raising World ChildrenRamadan – the holiest month for Muslims around the world; the month when almost two billion Muslims around the world abstain from food, and water from dawn to dusk. The days when they dedicate their time to piety and prayer. Muslims believe that it was during this month that the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him).

It is the month of peace and forgiveness. While abstaining from food and drink is possibly the most visible aspect, that isn’t all there is to it. Muslims believe that the rewards reaped for acts of worship, and other good deeds, during this holy month, are multiplied. A large number of Muslims also participate in the special ‘Taraweeh’ prayers in the evening.

It is believed that one of the last ten nights of Ramadan is Lailatul Qadr or the Night of the Decree. During this night, the first few verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). This night is considered to be a night of blessings, and forgiveness.

That is just an introduction to what the Holy month means to Muslims from a religious standpoint. What I would like to talk about is the cultural significance of what Ramadan means to me?

Observing Ramadan in Childhood

As a young Indian Muslim growing up in the Middle East (Bahrain, to be precise), Ramadan was a time of joy! Of caring and sharing. It was a time for families and community gatherings. It was a time for worship, and learning. It was exhausting – oh, yes! Absolutely! But also immensely rewarding.

Almost a month before the Holy month began, we would start cleaning the house. It was pretty much our annual spring cleaning. As the days got nearer, we would start making and freezing dishes which can be prepped easily. My mom would start chanting religious prayers and songs – songs which I can recall easily to this day – many years after I have left home.

The best part about being in a Muslim country is that it is around you all the time.

The malls and streets are decorated and lit up with crescent moons, lamps and stars. Ramadan Kareem billboards are everywhere. The Azan (the call to prayer) is heard loud and clear five times during the day. People don’t eat or drink in public, and almost all restaurants are closed  till the fast opens each day – in respect for those are fasting and well, because it is the law.

[bctt tweet=”The best part about being in a Muslim country during Ramadan is the convenience. It is around you all the time. ” username=”contactrwc”]

I remember days when we had to climb up our three flights of steps after school, at around 2pm, lugging our incredibly heavy school bags. After a long day at school, we would be famished! But we still had a few hours to go. Watching some television, doing homework, or playing were the activities while we were really young. As we became teenagers, and then adults, the role – in the hours that led to Iftar – was about helping mom in the kitchen, and setting up the table.

At the dusk prayer, we would all sit together, and break our fast as a family. Starting with dates – as Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) has been recorded as suggesting – and water, we then jump into a feast.

As adults, we obviously know that Ramadan is about anything but food – but as kids, food was one of the things we looked forward to the most during the days of fasting.

ramadan fast breaking treats

The common dishes on any Malayali Muslim’s table would be – the semolina kanji or the lentil kanji, Tang – usually the orange flavor, some fruits and a variety of typical snacks.  The snacks ranged from the sweet – pazham pori (Plantain banana fritters), unnakkai (plantain banana missiles stuffed with sweetened coconut filling), Sweet Ada to the savory – samosa, cutlets, fish ada, prawns ada, erachipathiri and so on! Ah! My mouth is already watering.

Community Spirit

There were also a number of Iftar gatherings across the country. Not just family gatherings, but also organized by various associations and clubs like the Indian Club, and the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam (and others – but these two I am extremely familiar with).

Many of these saw the participation of a large number of non-Muslims. I have listened to the sermon of a Christian priest, and the teachings from a Hindu pandit, as well as Muslim imam at the same gathering. I was and am always amazed at how people come together for a celebration – while fully respecting the religious values and ethos of those who are fasting. Such gatherings are extremely important – and as children, it helped us learn values of diversity, of respect, and of humanity.

[bctt tweet=”Garangao is an arab version of Trick or Treating during Ramadan where kids where traditional clothes and go home to home.” username=”contactrwc”]


Another very interesting celebration during Ramadan – usually the fourteenth day is known as Gergaoon or Garangao. Children dress up in traditional outfits, sing traditional songs, and go from house to house collecting nuts or candies. An Arab version of trick or treating, one can say.

I have had the pleasure of participating in a few of those celebrations in Qatar (as an adult though), and I just cannot wait for my son to grow up. Big halls are set up with multiple booths for children’s activities, reading, coloring, traditional games, photobooths, it really is an experience in itself.

Celebrations Today

ramadan fireworks

Even as child, and now as an adult, there is one thing every one always looks forward to – the end of Ramadan – not because it brings the end of fasting but because it brings Eid! The Eid at the end of Ramadan is known as Eid Al Fitr.

Of course the days leading up to is busy – the prayers being the most important element. And shopping for new clothes, putting henna on our hands, and one more round of house cleaning.

ramadan mehendi

Once the moon has been spotted, and Eid has been declared, my mom would start reciting the Takbeer (a prayer chant) loudly at the house, and we would join in too. All this with uncontainable excitement about the next day.

On Eid Day, we would wake up nice and early for the special morning prayers which happened around 6am. Across Bahrain, there would be Eid gaahs (special grounds set up for community Eid prayers), or we would just go to the grand mosque.

Eis was really about family and community. And as kids (and even now for me 😛 ), there is an added bonus of (hopefully) getting Eidi. A token sum of money that children used to get from elders! We then go out and visit relatives, and of course there is some biriyani involved! And get Eidi from them as well.

Now in Qatar, we make it a point to go for the fireworks show that is organized every Eid. In India, it is a very common practice to have fireworks at home. I used to love celebrating Eid in India because of that!

But Eid is the Middle East is extra special – like Christmas probably is in the West.

Schools are closed for three days. There are decorations and festive bill boards everywhere. The entire country celebrates it – doesn’t matter if you are Muslim or not, expat or local, child or adult! Eid is a celebration for every member of the community! There is definitely celebration in the air.

With Eid coming up soon, I wish you a blessed Ramadan Kareem and an exciting enjoyable Eid Mubarak! Do share your experience of the Holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan - What is Ramadan? A Time for Reflection and Community. #ramadan #muslim #celebrations #fasting #community #gulfcountries

Dilraz Kunnummal  is journalist, public speaker, dancer, explorer, and mum to a cheeky one-year-old. She has a decade of experience working in the media industry across India and the Middle East. Her portfolio includes being the editor for a women’s magazine, heading a business publication’s editorial team, running a corporate newspaper, and producing radio shows for a channel with 45 stations across India. A lifelong expat, Dilraz loves learning more about different cultures and traditions. Her goal as a mom is to raise a child who knows empathy, kindness and compassion, while also being confident of reaching his own potential whatever that may be. Dilraz often pens her thoughts on mother hood, and life with her family on her blog,