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.