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Ramadan History, Trivia and Fun Facts

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Ramadan

An essential part of the Ramadan tradition is that you are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke, or partake in sexual encounters during the day. Fasting is practiced by all Muslims started around the age of 12. Traditionally it takes place from sunrise to sunset, however, children and the elderly are allowed a suhoor, which is a light meal or snack before dawn. (Café and restaurants in Muslim countries even stay open for this occasion!) The evening meal is called the iftar, and it usually begins with dates and sweet drinks for a much needed energy boost.

While fasting, Muslims are reminded of suffering for the poor; it is an opportunity to practice self control and cleanse the body and mind. Good is acquired through this fast and can be destroyed by telling a lie, slander, denouncing someone behind their back, making a false oath, or greed. Of course these actions are always considered offensive, but considered most offensive during this month.

There are some instances where fasting is not required of Muslims. If someone is a diabetic, nursing or pregnant, they are not required to fast. Travelers not staying in a Muslim house more than ten days are also not obligated to participate in the sawn (true Muslim word for fasting), as well as those who are in battle, since nutrition is essential. If someone knowingly breaks the fast, they must commence fasting for the rest of the day on top of a kaffara (penalty) of either fasting for 60 days, or feeding 60 people in need. Muslims are obligated to make up for any missed days of fasting, whether they forgot, are away, or are sick.

During the month it is common to go to Masjid (Mosque), and spend several hours praying and studying the Qu'ran. They also recite Taraweeh Prayer, Night Prayer, which is two to three times longer than daily prayers.

On the 27th day of the month, Muslims celebrate Laylat-al-Qudr, which means Night of Power. This is when it is believed Muhammad first received the revelation of the Holy Qu'ran. It is also believed, according to the Qu'ran, the day when God determines the course of the world for the following year.

The Story of Ramadan begins with a caravan trader, Muhammad, who wandered the desert alone. It is there the Angel Gabriel told Muhammad he had been chosen to receive the word of Allah. When told this, Muhammad replied, "I am not a reader." The Angel Gabriel then helped Muhammad memorize verses that would become the Qur'an.

When the fast ends, it is celebrated for three days during a holiday called Id-al-Fitr, Feast of Breaking the Fasts. On the first day, congregational prayers are held at mosques. Prior to the prayers, the Zakatul Fitr, which is charity, must be given by those who are financially able. On this day, gifts are given (mostly to children), celebratory hugs are given, and Muslims wear their best clothes.

During Ramadan, Muslims are stripped of things they are used to having access to everyday of the year: food and drink. Living a month without these novelties reminds them about the suffering of the poor, and how purifying yourself can bring good. Ramadan is a time of prayer, cleansing, family, and remembrance of those who don't have everything.

Ramadan Quotes

"If a fly enters into one's mouth during Ramadan, one is not obliged to remove the said fly - one may swallow it: No one who has eaten garlic should be allowed to enter a mosque."
- Ayatollah Khomeini

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