What is Ramadan?
What is Ramadan? Ramadan (also written Ramadhan) is the name of the ninth month of the lunar calendar. It is the only month that is mentioned in the Holy Quran, namely in Surat al-Bagarah, verse 185: "شَهْرُ رَمَضَان الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ القُرْآنُ" ‘the month of Ramadhan is that in which the Quran was revealed.’
Ramadhan Kareem and May you be well and sound every year!
There are three views on why this month is named Ramadan. One view is that Ramadan is one of the glorified names of Allah, and that it means the forgiver of all sins. Another view is that Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word رَمْضٌ (noun) which means the intense heat of sand caused by sun rays and رَمَضَ (verb) which means to burn. It is also said that it is called Ramadan because it burns the sins through the goods deeds that Muslims do during this month. The very word Ramadan is associated with fasting, abstinence from food, drinks, and sex from dawn until sunset.
The Necessity of Fasting:
Muslims unanimously agree that it is required of every Muslim of age to fast Ramadan. This requirement is confirmed by the Holy Quran القُرْآنُ الكَرِيْم and the Sunna of the prophet السُّنَّة النَّبَوِيَّة / the prophetic mode of life. In the Holy Quran, it is said in Surat al-Bagarah, verse 183: " يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ" ‘O you who believed, fasting is enjoined of you as it was enjoined of those before you that you may be righteous.’ In verse 185 of the same Surat, it is said: " شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ" ' The month of Ramadan in which the Quran was revealed, which is a guidance for the people, and clear proofs of guidance and evidence. So, whoever sights its new moon is required to fast it.’
In the Hadith, narrating the saying of Angel Gabriel, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said: “Islam is to confess that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet, to perform the five prayers, to give alms, to fast Ramadan, and to make pilgrimage to the sacred house of Allah in Mecca provided that one is physically and financially able to do so.’ In another Hadith narrated by Omar, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Islam is based on five pillars, one of which is fasting the holy month of Ramadan.’ Also, once an Arab of the desert asked the Prophet about what fasting is required of him. The Prophet responded that it was required of him to fast the holy month of Ramadan.
Therefore, the month of Ramadan is an integral part of Islam, namely its fasting. It is the fourth pillar of Islam. Hence, whoever denies fasting Ramadan is considered a disbeliever, and whoever does not fast it is considered a deserter of Islam.
The Rationale of fasting Ramadan is that it cleanses the soul of the believer, leads it to purification, and brings it closer to Allah. This way a Muslim fears Allah, the Almighty, and submits to Him in total obedience.
May we be aided in fasting Ramadan and in devotedly performing its required worships, Amen!