Ramadan Mubarak from Masjid
al-Haram and Balad al-Ameen
Dr. Mozammel Haque
Makkah al-Mukarramah: The start of the Holy month of Ramadan will be determined on the sighting of the moon later this week. The Supreme Judicial Council of Saudi Arabia called on all Muslims in the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the lunar month of Ramadan on July 19 (Thursday) evening. Ramadan is likely to start Friday after astronomers said the new moon could be sighted Thursday evening. Saudi Astronomer Abdul Aziz Al-Shammari said, “The moon will set this coming Thursday six minutes after the setting of the sun, increasing the likelihood of the new moon being sighted on Thursday.”
Muslims all over the world still stick to the tradition of looking to the sky to start their fasting and ending. The fasting month of Ramadan starts with the sighting of the Ramadan crescent in the horizon with the naked eye. Under the Shari’ah, if the new crescent was seen by any trustworthy person supported by two witnesses his testimony would be documented and the whole nation would accept that testimony. Whatever be the case, the holy month of Ramadan is going to start either Friday or Saturday depending on the sighting of the crescent. This column will come to the reader on Friday, the 20th of July, 2012. So this is the best time to say my readers RAMADAN MUBARAK.
Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Greetings from the Masjid al-Haram and the Balad al-Ameen to all of you, especially to all the readers of Plain Truth, MUSLIM VOICE and THE STRAIGHT PATH in the Bangla Mirror Weekly, The Muslim Weekly and EuroBangla Weekly. May this holy month bring barakah, and Allah's boundless mercy upon the believers and harmony and tolerance for the world
I welcome Ramadan, the month of Mercy and Repentance, the month of the Qur’an, of laylatul qadr (the night of power) and of repentance and forgiveness. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the Pillars of the Islamic faith. It was declared an obligatory duty (Fard) in the second year of the Hijrah upon each and every mukallaf (one capable of carrying out religious duties, i.e. a sane adult).
Allah the Almighty made Ramadan fasting compulsory for Muslims. Allah said, “O those who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as were enjoined upon those before so that you be God-fearing.’ [Surah Baqarah, 183]. Literally, Sawm means ‘to abstain’. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means ‘to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse: with the conditions that one abstains continuously from dawn to sunset, and that there is an intention to fast.’ Therefore, should one eat or drink anything even a minute before sunset, the fast will not be valid. Similarly, if one abstained from all these things throughout the day but made no intention to fast, there will be no fast here too.
Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an “…And eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread…” (Al-Qur’an, 2:187) Literally defined, fasting means to abstain “completely” from foods, drinks, intimate intercourse and smoking, before the break of the dawn till sunset, during the entire month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year.
Fasting in Islam is based on the lunar calendar and is tied to the sightings of hilal, the crescent, or new moon. Allah the Almighty stated: “They ask you concerning the new moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time… (Al-Qur’an, 2:189). And the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Eat until you see the crescent and break not until you see the crescent. If it is cloudy calculate the period of the month.” (Muslim and others).
Fasting in Ramadan is compulsory upon every Muslim, male or female, who has these qualifications, e.g. mentally and physically fit, adult full of age which is normally fourteen and fairly certain that fasting is unlikely to cause any harm, physical or mental, other than the normal reactions to hunger, thirst etc.
The said qualifications exclude the following categories: children under the age of puberty and discretion; men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fast and bear its hardships; sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by the observance of fast; travellers may break the fast temporarily during their travel; pregnant women and women breast-feeding their children may also break their fast and women in the period of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days or of confinement (of a maximum of forty days. They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make up for it.
The holy month of Ramadan is the month of mercy, forgiveness, and seeking release from the Hell-fire. It is the month of repentance and acceptance of prayers. It is the month when the devils are chained, the gates of Hell are looked and the gates of Paradise are opened. That’s why; Muslims welcome Ramadan each year with energy and happiness, and are saddened only when the month departs. Fasting is for the living, not for mourning.
Ramadan is a month of worship. Muslims should welcome the month with repentance and seeking Allah’s pardon. We should keep away from committing sins; worship Allah sincerely and spending the night and day in prayer, supplication and recitation of the Holy Qur’an.
Fasting is a shield which helps prevent many sins and with which Muslim protects himself from Hell-fire. Fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It also means to abstain from any falsehood in speech and action, from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing and quarrelling. Therefore, fasting helps to develop good behaviour.
Fasting inculcates a sense of brotherhood and solidarity, as a Muslim feels and experiences what his needy and hungry brothers feel. This gives Muslim a new sense of togetherness and association.
Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an: The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (between right and wrong). (Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 185) As Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, every Muslim should prepare himself to welcome the blessed month of Ramadan by strengthening his relationship with the Qur’an. A Muslim is encouraged to complete one recitation of the Holy Qur’an during Ramadan.
We should engage more and more in the recitation of the Qur’an, in dhikr (remembrance of Allah), perform extra Salah (ritual prayers) at night and renew identity with one another in our obedience to Allah.
Ramadan is called the month of charity and sympathy; a month of giving in charity and sharing meals to break the fast together. Many Muslims also pay Zakah in the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to bring about permanent improvement into our lives. We can do this by making a goal to remove a harmful trait from our character or speech, whether it be argumentation, backbiting, making false promises, or resentment against a fellow Muslim, or a sinful matter from our lives. Insha’Allah by the baraka of this month, this effort will result in change that will benefit us in this world and the next.
I would again like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a blessed Ramadan, the Ramadan Kareem. May this blessed month bring unadulterated peace to everyone in the world. May Allah the Almighty in His Infinite Mercy and Magnanimity help us, guide us and reward us richly during this Holy Month of Ramadan and forever keep us on the Straight Path of Islam. May Allah the Almighty guide us in increasing our good deeds in this Holy Month. May Allah make this Ramadan a month of increasing nearness to Him, and May He accept all of our fasts and worship. Ameen.
Thus Ramadan becomes a blessed month of physical, moral and spiritual renewal through fasting, charity and worship. This is the moral and spiritual gifts of Ramadan. “We can say that Ramadan gives us the great gift of Taqwa (Piety). Taqwa is the sum total of Islamic life. It is the highest of all virtues in the Islamic scheme of things. It means God-consciousness, piety, fear and awe of Allah and it signifies submission to Allah and total commitment to all that is good and rejection of all that is evil and bad,” said Dr. Muzzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).