Ramadan (رَمَضَان) is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar and one of the most significant months of the year. According to the commandment of Allah, Muslims have to fast compulsorily this month. Apart from fasting, long night prayers, Sehri, Iftar, recitation of the Quran, making Duas, and Itikaf are some other worships that Muslims do during the month of Ramadan.
In this article, you will learn about the basics of Ramadan, including its meaning, origin, purpose, significance, and many more. Let’s start!
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Its literal meaning is ‘great heat’. In Islam, fasting the whole month of Ramadan, from dawn to dusk, is compulsory for every able Muslim, man or woman.
Also, fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Rasulullah ﷺ said:
بُنِيَ الْإِسْلَامُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ: شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ، وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ، وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ، وَحَجِّ الْبَيْتِ، وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ
Meaning: “Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the Zakat, making the pilgrimage to the House(Ka’bah) and fasting in Ramadan.” [Sahih al-Bukhari: 8, Sahih Muslim: 16]
When is Ramadan 2024?
The next Ramadan (1445H) will likely start on the 10th of March 2024 and end on either the 7th or 8th of April. However, the date may vary in different regions, as Islamic months are based on moon sightings.
Do you wonder when does Ramadan start and finish in general? Ramadan comes between the month of Shaban and Shawwal.
Ramadan Basics That You Should Know About
There are many aspects of Ramadan. Some of the basic ones are Fasting, Sehri, Iftar, Taraweeh, Qiyam-ul-Layl (voluntary night prayers), Itikaf, Lailatul Qadr (a magnificent night), etc.
What Do You Say at the Start of Ramadan?
The companion of Rasulullah ﷺ Talhah Bin Ubaidillah (R) used to say the following dua whenever he would see the new moon:
اللَّهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالْيُمْنِ وَالْإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلَامَةِ وَالْإِسْلَامِ ، رَبِّي وَرَبُّكَ الله
Meaning: “O Allah, make the new moon rise on us with blessing, faith, safety, and Islam. My Lord and Your Lord is Allah.” [Sahih-at-Tirmidhi: 2745]
Also, you can congratulate and greet someone with Ramadan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem. There is nothing wrong with that.
Why Do We Fast in Ramadan?
The Almighty Allah has made fasting compulsory for us. Let’s see from the Quran about the purpose of Fasting:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
Meaning: “O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will be righteous”. [Sura Al-Baqarah: 183]
So, there are two reasons for fasting. They are:
- To obey the commandment of Allah
- To attain righteousness
Allah has also specified the month when we need to fast. Allah says:
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلْقُرْءَانُ هُدًۭى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَـٰتٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْهُدَىٰ وَٱلْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ ٱلشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍۢ فَعِدَّةٌۭ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ
Meaning: “Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and decisive authority. So whoever is present this month, let them fast. But whoever is ill or on a journey, then let them fast an equal number of days after Ramadan.” [Sura Al-Baqarah: 185]
What is the Story Behind Ramadan?
In the pre-Islamic era, the Quraish used to fast on the day of Ashura. Rasulullah ﷺ would also fast on that day. When he migrated to Madina, he fasted on that day and commanded others to fast as well.
In the second year of Hijrah (migration), Allah made fasting during the month of Ramadan Fard (mandatory). Afterwards, Rasulullah ﷺ used to fast on the day of Ashura as a voluntary fasting.
Why Does Ramadan Start on Different Days?
Ramadan consists of either 29 or 30 days, depending on moon sighting. Also, the Arabic year consists of either 354 or 355 days. So, Ramadan moves 10 or 11 days backwards every year and starts at different months of the solar calendar.
So, after every 33 years, the Arabic year becomes 1 more than the solar year, and this holy month returns to the same season.
Was the Quran Revealed in Ramadan?
According to the narration of Ibn Abbas (R) and others, Allah descended the entire Quran from a place named Lawh-Al-Mahfuz to a place called Baitul Izzah in the first heaven at once. From there, angel Jibril (AS) brought the verses of the Quran in chunks throughout the 23 years of the Prophethood of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. Allah says:
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلْقُرْءَانُ
Meaning: “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran” [Sura Baqarah: 185]
This great event occurred in Lailatul Qadr, which is a magnificent night in the month of Ramadan. Allah says:
إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَـٰهُ فِى لَيْلَةِ ٱلْقَدْرِ
Meaning: “Indeed, it is We Who sent this Quran down on the Night of Glory.” [Sura-al-Qadr: 1]
Why is Ramadan Celebrated?
Ramadan is an occasion of joy for the believers. Allah has promised mercy, forgiveness, and prosperity to those who fast during Ramadan. The ultimate reward of fasting in this month is Paradise. There is a specific gate in Paradise named ‘Rayyan’, which is only for those who fast. With hopes of attaining these rewards from Allah, we celebrate this month.
Following are some of the ways how we celebrate Ramadan:
- Through fasting, reciting the Quran, spending long hours in night prayers, giving charity, and other ibadah (worship).
- Spending time with our family members together for Sehri and Iftar and asking for forgiveness from Allah. Sometimes, guests are invited to join in as well.
- Taraweeh prayer is another occasion of congregation and joy for Muslims. We stand before Allah in Salah, expecting His pleasure and rewards.
- Many of us stay in the masjid for the last 10 days of Ramadan for Itikaf, hoping to gain the rewards of Lailatul Qadr.
- After Ramadan, we celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr on the first day of Shawwal. We thank Allah for the opportunity that He has given us to attain His satisfaction. Then we go back to our normal routine.
Thus, we celebrate the month of Ramadan through the worship of Allah and His remembrance.
What Happens in Ramadan?
Ramadan is a blessed month. Many significant things occur in this month. Some of the things are:
- When Ramadan starts, Allah closes the gates of hell, opens the gates of paradise and shackles the devils. [Sahih-al-Bukhari: 1899]
- In the month of Ramadan, Allah forgives the believers and answers to their supplications. Rasulullah ﷺ said:
إِنَّ لِلَّهِ عُتَقَاءَ فِي كُلِّ يَوْمٍ وَلَيْلَةٍ يعني في رمضان لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ مِنْهُمْ دَعْوَةٌ مُسْتَجَابَةٌ
Meaning: “Verily, Allah has people He redeems in every day and night of Ramadan, and every servant among them has a supplication that will be answered.” [Musnad Ahmad 7450]
- There is a night named Lailatul Qadr in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Allah sent the Holy Quran on this night. This night is better than a thousand months. Allah says:
لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌۭ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍۢ
Meaning: “The Night of Glory(Lailatul Qadr) is better than a thousand months.” [Sura Qadr: 3]
How Much Reward Do You Get in Ramadan?
Rewards of good deeds in Ramadan are multiplied many times compared to that of other months.
In a hadith, it is mentioned that 1 good deed in Ramadan is multiplied by the factor of 70. But this hadith has been classified as weak (Da’ef).
The correct opinion is that the rewards of good deeds are multiplied by either 10, 700, or unlimited times based on a person’s intention and sincerity. In a Hadith Qudsi, Allah has promised those who fast rewards from His own Self, meaning they will receive something special from Allah.
Also, performing Umrah in Ramadan is equivalent to performing Hajj (in terms of reward).
In short, the rewards of the month of Ramadan are not limited to 10, 70, or 700. It varies depending on the individual’s condition.
Q. How many days does Ramadan move every year?
Ans. Ramadan moves 10 or 11 days backwards every solar year.
Q. What are the three stages of Ramadan?
Ans. There is a hadith that states that the first 10 days of Ramadan are for mercy, the second 10 days are for forgiveness, and the last 10 days are for ransom from hellfire. But this hadith is weak (da’if). The correct opinion is that the entire month of Ramadan is mercy, forgiveness, and ransom from hellfire from Allah.
Q. When did Fasting in Ramadan become compulsory?
Ans. Fasting in the month of Ramadan was made compulsory in the 2nd year of Hijrah.
Ramadan is a month of blessing and mercy from Allah. We should learn about this month and maintain its honour. Also, we should pray to Allah to make us reach Ramadan.