In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Frequently Asked Questions on Ramadan - General
What is Ramadan?
A: Ramadan is the name of the ninth Islamic lunar month. It is the month Allah (The one
God), ordered the Muslims to fast since it was the month He revealed the Qur'an (the Muslims' holy scripture) to Muhammad
(the final Prophet of Allah). Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and intimate relations with their spouse during the daylight
hours of the blessed month. It is a time for Muslims to contemplate on their belief and increase their faith by actively increasing
in worship, prayer and receiting the Qur'an. It is an opportunity for spiritual as well as physical purification.
Do Muslims not eat and drink for a whole month?
A: No. Muslims are ordered to abstain from food, drink and
sensual pleasures from the break of dawn until sunset throughout the whole month. That means, that after sunset until the
break of dawn of the following day, Muslims may eat and drink as they please. Many Muslims take this opportunity to invite
friends and family over to share in the spirit of Ramadan
Q: What do Muslims do during Ramadan?
Muslims usually wake before dawn to take a small meal called "suhoor". They abstain from eating, drinking and sensual pleasures
during the daylight hours of the blessed month. Muslims exert more effort in worship, praying, contemplating, helping others,
giving charity, reciting the Quran (the holy book of the Muslims); many Muslims endeavour to complete the Qur'an's recitation
at least once during the month. At sunset, Muslims break their fast, usually with a big meal with family and friends. Many
Muslims also attend the mosque at night, to engage in special night prayers called "taraweeh".
Q: Is Ramadan
a Prophet of Islam?
A: No, Ramadan is not a Prophet of Islam. Ramadan is simply the name of the ninth month
of the Islamic lunar calender. It happens to be the month that Allah (the One God) revealed the Qur'an, to Muhammad (the final
Prophet of Allah). Islam believes and honours all the Prophets of the past as servants and Messengers of Allah, including
Noah (Nooh), Abraham (Ibrahim), Moses (Musa) and Jesus ('Isa) May Allah send His peace upon them all. Muslims believe that
Muhammad is the final Messenger of Allah, that the previous Messengers prophesised about. He preached the same message as
those before him: "Worship Allah (the one God) alone, you have no god besides Him".
Q: Do children, sick and
old people need to fast?
A: Fasting is only obligated on Muslims who have reached puberty, are sane and are
healthy. So children who have not reached puberty are exempt, but are encouraged to fast some days, or a portion of a day,
to train them for when they are obliged to fast. The temporarily sick who have a sickness that may extend a few days, where
fasting may serverly affect them or prolong their recovery are not obliged to fast but must make up the days after Ramadan.
The chronically ill and elderly, for example those with diabetes, are not obliged to fast, but should feed a needy or poor
person for each day they miss.
Q: How did the fast during Ramadan become obligatory for Muslims?
A: The revelations from God to the Prophet Muhammad that would eventually be compiled as the Quran began during Ramadan
in the year 610, but the fast of Ramadan did not become a religious obligation for Muslims until the year 624. The obligation
to fast is explained in the second chapter of the Quran: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed
for those before you, that you may become righteous...The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a
guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him
fast it;..." (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185)
Q: What do Muslims believe they gain from fasting?
One of the main benefits of Ramadan are an increased compassion for those in need of the necessities of life, a sense of self-purification
and reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality. Muslims also appreciate the feeling of togetherness shared by family and
friends throughout the month. Perhaps the greatest practical benefit is the yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline
that can carry forward to other aspects of a Muslim's life such as work and education.
Q: Why does Ramadan
begin on a different day each year?
A: Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier
each year. Throughout a Muslim's lifetime, Ramadan will fall both during winter months, when the days are short, and summer
months, when the days are long and the fast is more difficult. In this way, the difficulty of the fast is evenly distributed
between Muslims living in the northern and southern hemispheres.
Q: What is Lailat ul-Qadr?
Lailat ul-Qadr ("Night of Power") marks the anniversary of the night on which the Prophet Muhammad first began receiving revelations
from God, through the angel Gabriel. An entire chapter in the Quran deals with this night: "We have indeed revealed this (Message)
in the Night of Power: and what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand
months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God's permission, on every errand. Peace!...This until the rise of
morn." (Chapter 97) Muslims believe Lailat ul-Qadr is one of the last odd-numbered nights of Ramadan.
it difficult to perform the fast in Australia?
A: In many ways, fasting in Australia is easier than fasting
in some of the african countries where the climate is extremely hot. This year at least, the number of daylight hours will
be less than when Ramadan occurs during the summer. In Muslim countries, most people are observing the fast, so there are
fewer temptations such as luncheon meetings, daytime celebrations and offers of food from friends. Many Australian Muslims
would prefer a daytime work shift during Ramadan so that they may break the fast with their families and attend evening prayers.
Q: How can non-Muslim co-workers and friends help someone who is fasting?
A: Employers, co-workers
and teachers can help by understanding the significance of Ramadan and by showing a willingness to make minor allowances for
its physical demands. Special consideration can be given to such things as requests for vacation time, the need for flexible
early morning or evening work schedules and lighter homework assignments. It is also very important that Muslim workers and
students be given time to attend Eid prayers at the end of Ramadan. Eid is as important to Muslims as Christmas and Yom Kippur
are to Christians and Jews. A small token such as a card (there are Eid cards available from Muslim bookstores) or baked goods
given to a Muslim co-worker during Eid ul-Fitr would also be greatly appreciated. Hospital workers should be aware that injections
and oral medications might break the fast. Patients should be given the opportunity to decide whether or not their condition
exempts them from fasting.
Q: Do people normally lose weight during Ramadan?
A: Some people
do lose weight, but others may not. It is recommended that meals eaten during Ramadan be light, but most people can't resist
sampling special sweets and foods associated with Ramadan.