Friday, August 21, 2009
Ramadan Fasting Commenced Today
Origins of Ramadan
The name "Ramaḍāma" had been the name of the ninth month in the Arab world long before the arrival of Islam; the word itself derived from an Arabic root rmḍ, as in words like "ramiḍa" or "ar-ramaḍ" denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. In the Qu'ran, God proclaims that "fasting has been written down (as obligatory) upon you, as it was upon those before you". According to the earliest hadith, this refers to the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur.
Laylat al-Qadr, considered the most holy night of the year, is the night in which the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad, the "Night of the Power". Muslims believe it to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramaḍān, either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th (in Sunni thought) or the 19th, 21st or 23rd (in Shi'a thought). Ramaḍān ends with Eid ul-Fitr on the 1 of Shawwal, with much celebration and feasts. During the month following Ramaḍān, called Shawwal, Muslims are encouraged to fast for a further six days, known as as-Sitta al-Bīḍ, or "the white six." When fasting is over, Muslims go to Mosques in new clothes to pray the first Eid prayer. They give out presents to the young ones and greet their friends and families. They then thank God for what He has given them.