Month of Ramadan (in Arabic "blessed") for Muslims is one of the most honorable and requires strict observance of fasting.
Adherents of Islam, within thirty days from the first lights of sun till sunset observe fasting, abstaining from eating, drinking and all worldly concerns, and focusing on serving the Creator.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Muslim Lunar Calendar. It is in this month angel Jibril read the first Divine Revelation to the Prophet Muhammad. This significant event occurred when Muhammad retired to the cave in the Hira Mountain, nor far from Mecca. Revelations obtained by him in that day became the basis of the Koran - the holy book of Islam.
Ramadan is a part of the Lunar Calendar and its beginning is the appearance of the new moon. The Lunar Calendar is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian, so each year Ramadan begins 11 days earlier than in the previous year.
This period is marked for Muslims by a special service to the Creator: during the holy month, Muslims observe fasting prescribed by the Shariah (Divine Law). Fasting (Arabic Saum, pers. Roosa, Turkic Uraza) during Ramadan is obligatory for every Muslim, allowing him to strengthen his faith and self-discipline, following closely the orders of Allah.
From sunrise till sunset a fasting abstains from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual intimacy and tries to keep his tongue from profanity, and soul - from impure thoughts.
After sunset Muslims break their fast. Typically, the dish during the Iftar (breaking the fast after sunset) is a very small portion of food - according to the Sunnah is an odd number of dates. Then the evening prayer Maghrib is said, after which comes a turn for the full meal. In many countries, Iftar (meal, which breaks fast after sunset) is served in mosques and cooked by believers to enjoy food together.
Fasting in Ramadan may be not observed by only pregnant and lactating women, seriously ill people, children, people, who are engaged in heavy work or at the time on the road, soldiers who participate in military actions. However, these reasons do not exempt them completely from the observation of fasting - they will need to observe it at another time.
Muslims around the world prepare for Ramadan long before its occurrence: women buy food and products, men are busy buying clothes and gifts for the holiday meeting. Muslims honestly believe that Allah can absolve a man, if he spends time in reading prayers and commits acts of charity, for example, helps the needy, contributes money to charity. According to legend, Allah also frees a certain number of souls from the hell.
The 27th night of Ramadan is particularly important - "Laylat al-Qadr" ("Night of Power", or "Night of Predestination"), when Allah decides people's fates. During Ramadan, Muslims contribute most of the time to reading the Quran and remembrance of Allah (Dhikr). In addition to the five everyday prayers, every night of fasting Muslims make an additional prayer (tarawih) after the fifth prayer.
During Ramadan, many believers also make the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The first ten days of the month represents the reception of the grace of Allah, the second - the absolution from sins, and the third symbolizes the salvation from Hell.
The last ten days of Ramadan are the holiest of all, so Muslims are often more earnest in acts of worship.
The End of Ramadan and fasting is marked with the second most important of all Muslim holidays - Eid al-Fitr (translated from Arabic - the Festival of Fast-Breaking, in Turkic - Uraza Bairam), begining at sundown on the last day of Ramadan and the continuing first and second days of next month Shawal. It begins with a prayer led by Imam.
After prayers the imam asks Allah to accept the fasting, forgive sins and give prosperity. Then Muslims have a festive meal and give alms to the poor, and visit the graves of their ancestors. Joint prayers and sermons often followed by various festivities: children take part in games; sweets are distributed to all who wish; theatrical performances are shown in the streets; songs and cheers are heard everywhere. Muslims believe that if a believer fasted during Ramadan, Allah will grant him mercy above.
In Muslim countries during Ramadan business activity is markedly reduced, working hours are reduced, religious sentiment is increased, and everyday life is shifted to the evening and night.
Source: IA News-Kazakhstan