Why Muslims Fast during Ramadan

The act of fasting defines a Muslim.

Islam is based on 5 core principles; believing in these principles is key to being identified as a person of the Islamic faith. These five principles are also referred to as the five pillars of Islam, namely Shahadah, belief in one God (Allah) (SWT), Salat (prayer), Sawn (to fast) and Hajj. These are acts that Allah (SWT) has ordained compulsory. Fasting is one of the five pillars meaning that to fast during the month of Ramadan is mandatory for all able Muslims.

There are many spiritual and physical reasons behind fasting during Ramadan.

“One of them, in particular, is mentioned in the Qur’an, and that is in order to develop a higher consciousness and a higher level of mindfulness of Allah the creator, “The second is purification of the self from all bad habits or sinful characteristics so, while we fast as Muslims, we are obligated to reflect and to pay attention to our own habits and to sort of unlearn the bad ones and, hopefully, learn some good new ones in their place.”

“The third reason is to learn self-discipline and self-control so one of the major objectives of fasting is to teach the individual that he or she can control his or her desires.”

As humans, we are susceptible to sins and transgression of the boundaries established by Islam and fasting teaching us to be pious and restrain ourselves from worldly pleasures. The idea is to ensure we are not led astray by materialistic desires and to be able to control urges that can cloud judgement. This requires a fixed training period where Muslims have enough time to know and learn how to put an end to vices, learn virtues and obtain Allah’s (SWT) blessing.

Islam preaches equality and Allah (SWT) made fasting during Ramadan to make the rich and the poor equal in terms of asking for forgiveness for their past sins. Ramadan is a month when many prayers are listened to and answered.

These are just a few reasons why Muslims fast during the blessed month of Ramadan. It defines them as followers of the Islamic faith and billions of Muslims around the world will continue in the tradition of fasting from sunrise to sunset.

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown during the month of Ramadan. In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking, those who fast also restrain themselves from evil thoughts, speeches, and actions. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan and is one of the most anticipated Islamic holidays.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. During this month, Muslims observe a complete fast from dawn until sunset. The observance of the Sawm, considered to be the Fourth Pillar of Islam, is detailed in the Qur’an:

Ramadan is the month in which was set down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear signs for guidance and judgment between right and wrong.

So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later.

Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties.

He wants you to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.

The fast of Ramadan encourages self-restraint, God-consciousness, compassion, and collective worship. During the daylight hours, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual activity, while striving to avoid all evil speech and any bad thoughts or actions. As the Bulletin of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York explained in their 1994 Ramadan issue, the fast must be understood as more than abstention from food and drink, “It also means abstention from the illegitimate use of our minds, our tongues, and our hearts.”

Meals are taken before dawn and after sunset, known respectively as suhoor and iftar. At dusk, many gather to break the fast by eating dates and drinking water, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad. The nights of Ramadan are a time for families and friends, often a festive occasion with special foods. Many mosques (masajid)  Qur’anic recitation nightly during Ramadan, On Lailat al-Qadr, the “Night of Majesty” on which Muhammad received the first revelation, much of the community gathers in the mosque to listen to the recitation of the Qur’an; many others stay up all night praying and reading the Qur’an at home.

At the end of the month of fasting, Muslims gather in large groups to perform the prayers of Eid al-Fitr, in addition to paying the obligatory zakat al-fitr,  Eid al-Fitr is also a time to visit friends and relatives, and many Muslims celebrate with their families for two or three days. Children receive new clothes, jewelry, toys and other gifts, and parents teach the next generation the importance of following the Islamic obligations of fasting, prayer and reading the Qur’an.

History of Yemen

Yemen is one of the oldest centers of civilization in the Near East.[1] Its relatively fertile land and adequate rainfall in a moister climate helped sustain a stable population, a feature recognized by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy, who described Yemen as Eudaimon Arabia (better known in its Latin translation, Arabia Felix) meaning “fortunate Arabia” or “Happy Arabia“. Yemenis had developed the South Arabian alphabet by the 12th to 8th centuries BCE, which explains why most historians date all of the ancient Yemeni kingdoms to that era.

Between the 12th century BCE and the 6th century CE, it was dominated by six successive civilizations which rivaled each other, or were allied with each other and controlled the lucrative spice tradeMa’inQatabanHadhramautAwsanSaba, and Himyar.[2] Islam arrived in 630 CE, and Yemen became part of the Muslim realm.

Old city of Sana’a , Yemen 

Described by historians, geographers and scholars of the early Islamic and medieval eras, Sana’a is associated with the civilizations of the Bible and the Koran.

As an outstanding example of a homogeneous architectural ensemble reflecting the spatial characteristics of the early years of Islam, the city in its landscape has an extraordinary artistic and pictorial quality.  Its many-storied buildings represent an outstanding response to defensive needs in providing spacious living quarters for the maximum number of residents within defensible city walls.  The buildings demonstrate exceptional craftsmanship in the use of local materials and techniques.  The houses and public buildings of Sana’a, which have become vulnerable as a result of contemporary social changes, are an outstanding example of a traditional, Islamic human settlement .

The Contemporary City

The old city is surrounded by a massive wall 20–30 feet (6–9 metres) high, pierced by numerous gates. Most notable architecturally is the Yemen Gate (Bāb al-Yaman), renamed Liberty Gate after the revolution of 1962. Old Sanaa includes 106 mosques, 12 hammams (baths), and 6,500 houses, all built before the 11th century CE. Multistoried tower houses, built of dark basalt stone and brick, are decorated with intricate frieze work and beautiful carved windows. Sanaa’s most notable mosque, Al-Jamīʿ al-Kabīr (Great Mosque), contains a sacred shrine that was once a principal object of Zaydī veneration. The old souks (Arabic suqs, marketplaces) begin at Bāb al-Yaman and extend northward past the Great Mosque. The area is called Sūq al-Milh (Salt Market) but consists of many smaller souks selling a wide variety of goods. Northwest of the old city is the former summer palace of the imam, perched on a steep rock outcrop overlooking the Wadi Dharr. The garden suburb of Rawḍah, due north of Sanaa, has a fine mosque in the Moorish style. Qāʿ al-Yahūd (Jewish Quarter), a walled ghetto in the western part of the city, was long a centre for the practice of traditional crafts, such as fine gold and silver metalwork and embroidery. Virtually all the capital’s Jews emigrated to Israel in 1949–50, dealing an almost fatal blow to the handicraft economy.

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