Ramadan, 2012 begins on July 20th – in North America – on Saturday, the 21st

Ramadan in 2012 will start on Friday, the 20th of July and will continue for 30 days until Saturday, the 18th of August. Based on sightability in North America, in 2012 Ramadan will start in North America a day later – on Saturday, the 21st of July.

*Note that in the Muslim calander, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Ramadan on the sunset of Thursday, the 19th of July.

Although Ramadan is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, since the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This difference means Ramadan moves in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days every year. The date of Ramadan may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not.

The dates provided here are based on the dates adopted by the Fiqh Council of North America for the celebration of Ramadan. Note that these dates are based on astronomical calculations to affirm each date, and not on the actual sighting of the moon with the naked eyes. This approach is accepted by many, but is still being hotly debated.


Proper Observance of the Sawm (The Standard of Excellence of Fasting)

Appropriate examples of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of fasting according to Muslim tradition are to be found in that which was practiced and established by Muhammad. Although he would fast before the Qu’ran was Revealed, it was during this month that he was first Guided on how to maximize the benefits, joys and rewards of proper fasting.

For Muslims, the Standard of Proper Observance of sawm (fasting) in Ramadanhas been prescribed by Muhammad. Proper observance of sawm entails abstaining from — only from dawn until dusk — eating & drinking, sexual relations, forged speech & evil actions, such as fighting and quarreling, for entire month. Abstaining from these deeds is considered obligatory for one’s fasting to be valid from what has been gathered from the practice of sawm by Muhammad.In addition to abstaining from those deeds, an increase in recitation of the Qu’ran is also part of Muhammad’s Sunnah or tradition, as well as, an increase in recitation of the Quran, prayer, and generousity. Increasing these deeds exemplifies the seeking of additional Reward from Allah (God).

It was also the practice of Muhammad to have a pre-dawn meal (an early breakfast) in which there is an added blessing.
Adherence to practices established by Muhammad is considered by all Muslims to be The Standard of Excellence.



Spiritual Benefits

The spiritual benefits of fasting, in general are many, but in this month, the Reward is greater. Muslims fast an entire month for the sake of demonstrating submission to Allah and to offer more prayer than usual, as was the tradition of Muhammad.

By performing such deeds on an individual basis for Allah, such sincere piety unifies the Ummah into truly one community sacrificing the basic human desires with increased faith that they will achieve success. Such success was encompassed in Muhammad’s statement that each fast yields joy that is felt two-fold — in the immediate breaking of the fast and the joy of being Rewarded on the Day of Judgement for demonstrating such faith. Expression of the first joy mentioned can be felt daily, but the ultimate success lies in successful completion of the proper observance of Ramadan. This ultimate success has been commonly explained as an increase in “self-restraint” and “will-power“. And for many this leads to an increase in confidence to rely on their Lord more so when doing anything.

This level of faith that is inherent in such proper observance of fasting enables one to be more enabled and willing to sacrifice Earthly pleasures for attainment of spiritual Rewards. As the level of one’s faith increases, one finds it easier to an increased state of consciousness. This consciousness may sometimes be deficient throughout the year, perhaps especially in those who may be so “well off” that they are removed from the remembrance of the reality that the majority of mankind lives in poverty; that there is always more poor persons than rich persons.

Consequently, during this month those that are rich are made to feel hungry like the poor, helping to make it easier to empathize; those that are rich are reminded that what they have in such abundance is due to the sustenance Allah has Granted, helping to make it easier to be more grateful; those that are rich are afforded the opportunity to be more gracious and generous to the poor, helping make it easier to give and give even more to the poor.

By seeking Reward from Allah, one is demonstrating obedience. Thus, to be obedient to the Commandment of Allah during Ramadan, one must be in observance of these “Do’s and Don’ts” to maximize Reward from Him. Consequently, adhering to the Tradition (Sunnah) established by Muhammad should carry over at the other times outside of the month of Ramadan and ideally become habitual or consistent in practice.

In this fashion, it becomes clear that proper observance of sawm requires more than just abstaining from food & drink if one is to retain the many possible benefits that are possible when fasting.

 





Celebrating RAMADAN


Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Quran was revealed.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. Muslims believe that the Qur’an was sent down to the lowest heaven during this month, thus being prepared for gradual revelation by the Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open all the month and the gates of Hell (Jahannum) would be closed.

The first three days of the next month, Shawwal, is spent in celebrations and is observed as the “Festival of Breaking Fast” or `Eid ul-Fitr. Many Muslims insist on the local physical sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of Ramadan, but others use the calculated time of the new moon or the Saudi Arabian declaration to determine the start of the month. Since the new moon is not in the same state at the same time globally, the beginning and ending dates of Ramadan depend on what lunar sightings are received in each respective location.

As a result, Ramadan dates vary in different countries, but usually only by a day. This is due to the cycle of the moon. When one country sees the moon, mainly Saudi Arabia, the moon travels the same path all year round and that same moon seen in the east is then seen traveling towards the west. All the countries around the world see the moon within a 24 hour period once spotted by one country in the east.

Each year, Ramadan begins about eleven days earlier than in the previous year. Astronomical projections that approximate the start of Ramadan are available. It takes about 33 years and 5 days for Ramadan to complete a twelve month move across the yearly calendar. As Ramadan March 28, 1990 to Ramadan March 22, 2023.

 




Events

Ramadan is observed by Muslims during the entire lunar month by the same name.


The month of religious observances consists of fasting and extra prayers.
02 Ramadan, the Torah (Tawrat) was bestowed on Moses (Musa).
(According to Shia Islam)10 Ramadan, death of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid – first wife of Muhammad.
12 Ramadan, the Gospel (Injil) was bestowed on Jesus (Isa). (According to Shia Islam)
15 Ramadan, birth of Hasan ibn Ali
17 Ramadan, the Battle of Badr was won by the Muslims.
18 Ramadan, the Psalms (Zabur) were bestowed on David (Dawood). (According to Shia Islam)
19 Ramadan, Ali bin Abu Talib was struck on the head by a sword.
21 Ramadan, Ali bin Abu Talib died due to injuries he sustained by a sword.

Laylat al-Qadr is observed during one of the last ten odd numbered days of the month. Muslims believe that this night which is also known as “The Night of Destiny” is better than a thousand months. This is often interpreted as praying throughout this night is rewarded equally with praying for a thousand months (just over 83 years i.e. a lifetime). Many Muslims spend the entire night in prayer.

In the Ottoman Empire, the sultan presented trays of baklava to the Janissaries in a ceremonial procession called the Baklava Alayı.




In the Quran

The Statement of Allah – Chapter 2, Revelation 185:

“The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.

Thus, via the Quran Muslims are informed that the unlettered prophet, Muhammad, first received Revelations in the lunar month of Ramadan. Therefore, the month of Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the months of the lunar Islamic calendar, the recording of which began with the Hijra.”

Thus, via the Quran, Muslims are informed that the Unlettered Prophet, Muhammad, first received Revelations in the month of Ramadan. Therefore, the month of Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the months of the lunar Islamic calendar, the recording of which began with the Hijra.”





The Beginning of Ramadan

Hilāl (the crescent) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon indicates the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan. However, to many Muslims, this is not in accordance with authenticated Hadiths stating that visual confirmation per region is recommended.

Nevertheless, the consistent variations of a day have existed before astronomical calculations dating back since the time of Muhammad.It is not uncommon for most mosques to welcome the month by offering congregational nightly prayer called Tarawih and to allow the prayer to be recited by those are Hafiz (Quran), literally someone who has preserved the Quran by retaining it, in its entirety, via memorization. This prayer is performed only during this month, typically, after Salāt of Isha’a.

Although Muhammad didn’t always prescribe such a congregational prayer, many Muslims world-wide continue to occupy more of their time in the mosques each night because of it. The goal of this prayer is to provide Muslims, especially those who are new to the faith; cannot read or recite the Quran in Arabic; and even those who are not well-versed in the proper pronounciation of the Quran; an annual opportunity to witness the complete recitation of the Quran. Tarawih prayer are not considered obligatory, but offer considerable benefit, especially for Muslims living in non-Muslim countries.


Hastening To Break The Fast (Iftar)

During Ramadan, iftar takes place when Muslims break the fast at dusk (sunset), the conditions of which were described by Muhammad. Although one can begin iftar with any food or drink item, as available, it is recorded that Muhammad used to do so by eating dates. Muhammad would only eat a few dates to demonstrate the importance of hastening to break the fast, but would then hasten to offer the obligatory Maghrib prayer (salat). Only after completing these obligatory duties would he eat and drink further when possible.

Over time, Iftar has grown to encompass banquet festivals.

This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time. While it is not compulsory to host banquets during Ramadan, if done properly (continuing to abstain from forged speech and evil actions such as quarreling or fighting and without interfering with attending to the mosque for Tarawih, for example), one can see the hosts exhibiting graciousness, generousity, compassion, brother- and sisterhood, and overall unity among families, neighbors and communities.



Charity: Obligatory (Zakat) & Voluntary (Sadaqa)

Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramadan. Zakat often translated as “the poor-rate” is one of the pillars of Islam; a fixed percentage required to be given by those with savings. Sadaqa is voluntary charity in given above and beyond what is required from the obligation of Zakat. All good deeds are more handsomely Rewarded in Ramadan than in any other month of the year. Consequently, many will choose this time to give a large portion, if not all, of the Zakat for which they are obligated to give.In addition, many will also use this time to give a larger portion of sadaqa in order to maximize that Reward.

In many Muslim countries, it is not uncommon to see people giving food to the poor and the homeless, and to even see large public areas for the poor to come and break their fast. It is said that if a person helps a fasting person to break their fast, then they receive a reward for that fast, without diminishing the reward that the fasting person got for their fast.

Even in non-Muslim countries, no matter how small the Muslim population, a consistent increase charitable donations to non-Muslims occurs. In the USA, for example, many Muslim communities dispersed throughout the country, participate in contributing food, clothes and non-perishable food to local charities.



The Night of Decree (Laylat al-Qadr)

The Statement of Allah in Chapter 97 (The Decree):

‘The month of Ramadan is that in which was Revealed the Quran; a Guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the Guidance, and the Criterion (distinguishing right from wrong). And whosoever of you witnesses, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah Desires for you ease; He Desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having Guided you, and that perhaps you may be grateful.’

NOTE: One-thousand months equates to approximately 83 and 1/3 years.

Thus, if, on this Night, one’s proper observance of devotion and remembrance of Allah is Accepted, then, all else held constant, one can reasonably infer that even if one were to live that long and be able to practice the same level of devotion — as practiced during Ramadan — consistently and without fail in quality of devotion for 83 and 1/3 years, the Reward of one’s Atonement from that one Night would still be superior. Such is one of the most Powerful examples of the meaning behind the common titles of the Name of Allah, “The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful”.

Therefore, it behooves a Muslim to regard this Night in no small measure.

Which night is it?

Muhammad stated that one could know with certainty which night is was only after the night ended and the sun had risen; that the sun, on this day would rise without having any ray in it.

Many Muslims regard the 27th night of Ramadan as this night of Laylat al-Qadr, although there is evidence that Muhammad prescribed increased devotion during the last ten nights just to ensure that no devotee would miss the Power of such a special night due to his admitted humbly that despite having had certainty, he somehow forgot the specific night of the month that he first received Revelations.

Being that Muhammad was only a man, and that the first Revelation came when he was 40 years old (610 CE), that Ramadan became obligatory in 622 CE (2 Hijra), in not is not surprising that a man would find it difficult to remember the exact night. If we consider all the trials and tribulations endured during this period of his lifetime and combine that with the fact that he could not possibly know that he should remember it specifically and that he could not possibly know the future of God’s Will to Reveal the Power of such a night, it is not unusual by any means.

From numerous accounts, Laylat al-Qadr is understood to be a night in the last third of Ramadan in which the Quran was revealed. In addition, some accounts state that it is in the odd numbered nights (the 21st, the 23rd, the 25th, the 27th and the 29th).




The End of Ramadan

The Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎, festivity of breaking the fast), sometimes spelled in English as Eid al-Fitr, marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month called Shawwal in Arabic. This first day of the following month is declared after another crescent new moon has been sighted or if no visual sighting was possible due to weather the completion of 30 days of fasting. This first day of Shawwal is called Eid ul-Fitr. Eid Ul-Fitr, may also be a reference towards the festive nature of having endured the month of fasting successfully, as well as, returning to the more natural disposition (fitra) of being able to eat, drink and resume intimacy with spouses during the day.


HOW is all this ‘Celebrated‘?


Eid-ul-Fitr, “Eid-ul-fitr”, Eid al-Fitr, Id-ul-Fitr, or Id al-Fitr (Arabic: ‎عيد الفطر ‘Īdu l-Fiṭr), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm).


Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity“, while Fiṭr means “breaking the fast“. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The first day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month Shawwal. This is a day where Muslims around the world try to show a common goal of unity. It is a day of recognizance of God. Eid al-Fitr has a particular salat (Islamic prayer) consisting of two raka’ah (units) and generally offered in an open field or large hall.

It may only be performed in congregation (Jama’at) and has an additional extra six Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying “Allah-u-Akbar” [God is Great]), three of them in the beginning of the first raka’ah and three of them just before ruku’ in the second raka’ah in the Hanafi school. This Eid al-Fitr salat is, depending on which juristic opinion is followed, Fard (obligatory), Mustahabb (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory) or mandoob (preferable).

Muslims believe that they are commanded by God, as mentioned in the Qur’an, to continue their fast until the last day of Ramadan and pay the Zakat al-fitr before doing the Eid prayer.

Salat al Eid (Arabic: صلاة العيد‎) also known as Salat al Eidain (Arabic: صلاة العيدين‎) is the special prayer offered to commemorate two Islamic festivals. Both the Eids are collectively known as Eidain (عيدين) in Arabic language.


The two Islamic festivals are:


Eid Al Fitr, (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎) is celebrated on the 1st day of Shawwal, the 10th month of Islamic calendar (the first day after Ramadan).
Eid Al Adha, (Arabic: عيد الأضحى‎) is celebrated on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of Islamic calendar.

On both the occasions this special prayer is usually offered in Eidgah, a place in the outskirts of the city dedicated for Salat al Eid.


Informations, thanks to Widipedia.

Community Resource:  MUSLIM SOCIAL NETWORK/Sunnah

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