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When was Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting, first observed? And how have its practices changed over time?

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Ramadan is Islam’s holy month of fasting and it’s been observed and celebrated by all Muslims around the world for more than 14 centuries. Ramadan is a time of peace, seeking knowledge and patience.

In the seventh century, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated that Islam is built upon five pillars and fasting is one of them.

Today, nearly a quarter of the world’s population observe the fast during daylight hours, giving great respect to the Islamic month in which the holy book of Islam, the Qur’an, was revealed to the Prophet (pbuh). There are 3.2 Million Muslims in Britain who mark the occasion.

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Islam has grown, with over 1.8B muslims around the world. Muslims embrace Ramadan as the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. amadan have remained unchanged since 622 AD.

Moonsighting – the Ramadan moon sighting is a tradition that has endured to this day. Muslims across the world wait in excitement for the birth of the Ramadan Moon. It’s a very special occassion.

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You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God.” (Quran 2:183)

In 610 AD, it was during Ramadan that the very first revelation of the Qur’an was sent down to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was in Mount Hira (Cave) on the outskirts of Mecca at the time. The timing of the revelation is also give special significance and we know this day as the ‘night of power’.

“We have revealed it (Quran) in the night of power. And what will explain to you what the night of power is? The night of power is better than a thousand months.” (Quran 97:1–4)

Image Credit – Adil Wahid

The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) over a period of 23 years, and the verses instructing Muslims to fast the entire month of Ramadan came in the latter half of that period.

Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) first 12 years in Makkah were difficult as Muslim minority faced a lot of torture, tyranny and persecution from the Qurayshi ruling pagan tribe, with many muslims losing their lives for the sake of Islam.

The surviving Muslims migrated to the city of Medina in 622 AD, which was over 300km away. In 624 AD the verses about fasting in Ramadan were revealed, to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) establishing the holy month’s practices.

How to practice Fasting?

Muslim’s awake for the pre-dawn meal, known as suhoor, and refrain from eating, drinking and marital relations until sunset. They pray Fajr Namaz and learn more about the Qur’an before sunset.

When they break their fast (iftar), they eat dates (Kajoor). Each day is a spiritual disciplined journey and worship is increased. On the authority of Salman ibn Amir Dhabi, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, related that the Prophet (PBUH) said: Break your fast with dates, or else with water, for it is pure (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi2).

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Lailat al-Qadr (Night of power)

Aisha (May allah be pleased with her) related that the Prophet said: Look for Lailat al-Qadr on an odd-numbered night during the last ten nights of Ramadan (Bukhari). The night of power is a very special day.

Anas ibn Malik related that Rasulullah said: When Lailat al-Qadr comes Gabriel descends with a company of angels who ask for blessings on everyone who is remembering Allah, whether they are sitting or standing (Baihaqi). A very Special day.

Image Credit – Adrian Pelletier

The Extra Prayers

What is Taraweh Prayer?

During the final years of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life, he began to perform extra night prayers, not compulsory but recommended during Ramadan called taraweh. When the prophet (pbuh) would read these extra prayers, his companions would start joining him in the masjid and as the numbers grew, the Prophet (pbuh) became concerned they would regard it an obligation, so he continued his prayers alone at home instead.

Congregational taraweh has become a defining feature of Ramadan, and one through which the Qur’an is recited in its entirety. For more information on Ramadan, pick up our Ramadan 2021 issue today!

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Tags: 5 pillars, british muslim magazine, fasting, history, holy month, muslim, ramadan, sawm

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