Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims are expected to fast from dawn until sunset for the entire 30 days. Each Muslim country has its own customs and rites associated with Ramadan. Some customs that are observed by most Muslims include the following:
Recitation of the entire Qur’an, in imitation of Muhammad. This is usually organized by local mosques and often televised or heard on radio. Families may get together for their own recitation.
Observance of special prayers in the late evening or middle of the night—called tarawih.
Withdrawing to the mosque during the last 10 nights of Ramadan for prayer and Qur’an recitation, which is called itikaf, meaning “seclusion.”
Special emphasis on the “Night of Power,” which first occurred on the 27th of Ramadan, A.D. 610—the date of Muhammad’s initial revelation via the angel Gabriel.
During the “Night of Power” some Muslims participate in dhikr (remembering) during which the name of Allah is repeated or remembered for the entire night. According to a strong tradition (al-Bhukari), Muhammad said, “Whoever prays during the night of Qadr [power] with faith and hoping for its reward will have all of his previous sins forgiven.”
The dawn to sunset fast requires a Muslim to refrain from food, drink, and sexual relations. The fast is broken each evening with a meal called iftar – meaning “breaking the fast.” The last meal before dawn is called suhur—meaning “morning meal.”
The fast is obligatory for all adult Muslims. People who are ill do not have to fast if it would further damage their health; however, they should make up the missed fasts later when they become well again. Children who have not yet reached puberty are not required to fast. Travelers may also break their fast if they feel that keeping it would harm them. Soldiers on guard duty, for whom maximum readiness is a must, may break their fast.
A special holiday called Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr means “Feast of the Fast-breaking.” It takes place on the first day of the month that follows Ramadan. Most communities have a variety of festive celebrations and meals to mark the day.
Muslims believe Muhammad had his destiny fulfilled by receiving the first revelation of the Qur’an on the 27th night of Ramadan—thus alternately refer to the “Night of Power” as the “Night of Destiny.” Many Muslims think this is a special night when God not only forgives their sins, but also gives heed to their requests. Often they are open to dreams and visions as they seek guidance and revelation.
This year (2021), the Night of Power falls on May 9. Would you pray that our Lord and Savior would be revealed to Muslims during the month of Ramadan, especially during the “Night of Power”?