Published: October 8, 2005

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Muslims worldwide participate in the month of fasting

The holy month of Ramadan is a special month. For over one billion Muslims worldwide, it is a time of inner reflection and devotion to God. It is the month of

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The start of the month is based on a combination of physical sightings of the moon and astronomical calculations. The Islamic calendar itself is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. This year, Ramadan officially began on the evening of October 4, 2005 although some locations did not sight the new moon crescent until October 5th.

Ramadan is special to Muslims because it is during this time that the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam, Siam Ramadan, is practiced. As described in the book, “Saudi Arabia: All You Need to Know” by Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Rashid and Dr. Esber Ibrahim Shaeen, Siam Ramadan is the “fasting by every Moslem during the holy month of Ramadan. Fasting takes place from dawn or first light until sunset. During this period, one must not eat, drink, smoke, or carry on sexual activity. People who are sick, elderly, pregnant women and those who are traveling may be excused and should make up the days missed at a later date in the year. Those physically incapable must feed sixty needy persons for everyday of fast missed.

“Fasting is regarded as a healthy exercise making people more sensitive to the sufferings of the needy. Moslems break the fast with a light meal called iftar or break-fast. Communities and streets become alive at night. Everyone is usually in a festive mood. The nights of Ramadan are marked with religious activities, including long periods of prayers (Tarawih) performed after the last prayer of the day (Salat Al-Isha). One of the major holidays is Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. Celebrations go on for four days. It is a happy time, especially for children who traditionally receive clothing, toys and other gifts.”

Another important day during Ramadan is the 27th night of the month. It is generally taken that this is the night in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad. The night is known as the “Night of Power” (Lailat ul-Qadr). Many Muslims spend the entire night in prayer.

For Muslims, Ramadan is a time for inner reflection and devotion to God. The Siam Ramadan, or fasting, is intended to teach patience and self-control as well as to remind one of the less fortunate.

In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are urged to respect Ramadan by abstaining from eating, drinking and smoking in public during the day. In a statement released by the Saudi Interior Ministry last year, the ministry said, “Non-Muslim residents of this country must respect Muslims’ feelings by refraining from eating, drinking or smoking in public places, in the streets and workplaces during the dawn-to-dusk fast observed by Muslims throughout the holy month.” Violators of the rules could face possible deportation, according to the ministry.

This year, the end of the month of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr on November 4, 2005.

Related Links

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BBC – Ramadan In Pictures

The Five Pillars of Islam

Islamic Calendar

Eid al Fitr

Lailat al Qadr (27 Ramadan): The Night of Power

Ramadan 2005 – BBC

Ramadan on the Net

Religion and Ethics – Islam (BBC)

Ramadan Diary – Faiza Saleh Ambah

Part One — “Enough Faith to Fast?”

Part Two — “A Month of Fast and Feast”

Part Three — “Halfway through the Ramadan Fast”

Part Four — “Waging ‘Inner Jihad’ on an Empty Stomach

Part Five — “As Fasting Ends, the Lessons of Ramadan Linger”