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Ramzan: The month of fasting
Prof. Syed Akheel Ahmed
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Fasting during Ramzan is related to limitation. Without limitation, knowledge is impossible. During Ramzan, God's graces seem closer and more easily accessible.

For Muslims, Ramzan is a blessed month, a moment in the year when God's graces seem closer and more easily accessible. Fasting during Ramzan is related to limitation. Without limitation, knowledge is impossible, for it is when we come to the end or limit of a thing that its true nature becomes evident.

It also constitutes purification and a kind of sacrifice, which, like pruning of trees, leads to renewal and fresh strength. On the moral plane, it also brings a direct understanding of the suffering of the hungry. FundamentalsThe fundamental of Islam rests on five pillars (arkan-ad-din). They are: "The Shahadah affirming that "there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah¨ Salah, the five daily canonical prayers¨ Sawm, the fasting of the month of Ramzan.¨ Zakath, the giving of alms on a stipulated scale¨ Hajj, the performance of the pilgrimage to Mecca once in a life time by those physically and financially able to do so without compromising their other responsibilities.


The Masjid-e-Ala near Government House (Mysore) is being illuminated every night in view of Ramzan festival.

Ramzan is the ninth month of Islamic calendar called Hijri based on cycles of the moon (Hijri calendar - a day runs from sunset to sunset). The Hijri year consists of twelve lunar months, some of twenty-nine, and some of thirty days; to 354 days, 8 hours and 48 minutes long. In comparison with solar calendar, the Hijri calendar advances about ten days each year so that in thirty six years, Ramzan moves around the entire solar year, sometimes taking place in winter, sometimes in summer.

The beginning depends upon the physical sighting of the moon, which can take place briefly only at sunset. The insistence upon the actual physical sighting reflects the sense in Islam that actually reflect the Divine Will in its relation to men and that it is these which should determine sacred acts. The period of fasting during each day of the Ramzan is from the early dawn to dusk (sunset). During this period, a Muslim is forbidden from the three animal instincts; namely, eating, drinking and sex.

However, they are permitted after the fast, broken at sunset till the next fast commences. Besides, the three primal physical needs of man, which are apt to make him greedy, there is a fourth greed in society, the greed of wealth and property. The purpose of fast is not completed until this fourth greed is also restrained. Wealth and property carries with it, its full responsibilities. If we fail to understand or fulfill them, we have not learnt the full lesson of self-denial by fasts.Formulating the intention to perform the fast as a rite begins the daily fast. Children begin fasting gradually first half a day, then several days until they grow old enough to fast without affecting their health.

No one is required to fast if his health is not up to it and if a fast threatens health, it should be stopped. Pregnant and nursing women are exempted from fasting. Menstruating women are also exempted, but must make up the lost fast days afterwards during the course of the year. Travellers are exempted from fasting (but not forbidden to fast), if the distances traveled are great or if they are on a journey, which continues for more than three days. Fast days, which are lost for reasons of health and travel, must be made up during the year.

Ashra:
The month of Ramzan is classified into three parts; each of ten days duration called Ashra. The holy Quran was sent down as a guide to mankind during the third Ashra i.e., the last ten nights of Ramzan, the Laylat - Ul- Qadr, (the Night of Power), the holiest night in the Islamic calendar.The chapter 97 of holy Quran describes Laylat - Ul - Qadr, better than thousand months. It transcends time for it is Allah's power dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance, by his revelation in every kind affair.

There is widespread belief that the Night of Power is the 27th night of Ramzan.Supplementary prayers called salat at tarawih numbering eight or twenty rakath at each are performed after night prayer (Isha). The salat - prayer is composed of a series of movements repeated several times. Each series or cycle of sacred speech and movement is called a rakath). During this supplementary prayers (salat at tarawih) the holy Quran consisting of 6666 verses is recited from first night and is culminated on the Night of Power, the 27th night of Ramzan. The practice of giving Zakath or alms during Ramzan is to restrain from the greed towards wealth and property.

Sharing a part of the wealth in Islam is classed as under: Zakath, Ushr, Zakath-al-fitr, Sadaqah, Khairat, Atiya (donations). Zakath is the fourth pillar of Islam and is obligatory on the part of a well - to - do Muslims. It is in effect, a tax on one's possessions. It may be paid directly to the poor as alms or to the State. Zakath may be used for the upkeep of the poor, for those who own less than that prescribed for the paying of Zakath and for the destitute.

The amount due varies according to different kinds of properties. A contribution in kind, with minimum schedule is called a nisbah. On land, it is called Ushr or tenth of its produce. On gold and silver, that is, liquid assets the nisbah is 2½ percent of that value, which has been held for one year. All the aforesaid contributions cannot be used for the construction of mosques or an educational institution except Atiya (donations).

Zakath - Ul - Fitr:
The Zakath - Ul - Fitr, is considered by most to be non - obligatory alms, but almost paid by the pious, roughly equivalent to a quart of grain paid directly to the needy at the end of Ramzan.Id - Ul - Fitr, "the feast of breaking fast" is one of the most important holidays in the Islamic calendar. The sighting of new moon of 10th month of Islamic calendar (Shawwal) signifies the end of the fast of the month of Ramzan. The festival is marked by the special 'Id' prayer, which is performed by the whole community together in an outdoor prayer ground commonly called "Idgah". After the prayer, all the Muslim brothers greet each other and thereafter go to the burial grounds to pray as a mark of remembrance and appease God to make the departed souls to rest in peace. The cuisine on the day of Id - Ul - Fitr is marked with variety and quality. Biriyani and Sevian (desert) are the common items cooked and served to the family and friends.

The glory of holy month of Ramzan regulates with an insistence on two things: first, the facilities and concessions given and second, the spiritual significance of the fast without which it is like an empty shell without a kernel.

Courtesy: Star of Mysore

Prof. Syed Akheel Ahmed
Professor of Analytical Chemistry,
Manasagangotri,
Mysore.

Click here if you would like to Contribute or send a feedback.
Click here to go to the main page of Star of Mysore.
Click here to go to the main page of Festivals.
Click here to go to the main page of Pooja Section.
Click here to go to the main page of Islam.
Click here to read about Muslim Traditions.



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