Ramadan begins today, and will continue for 30 days until Friday, the 12th of October.
Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on the moon. Hence each new month begins with the sighting of the new moon. The lunar calendar is almost eleven days shorter than the solar calendar, therefore the date of the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan 'move' each year.
It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. Lasting for the entire month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals and visit with friends and family. It is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties. Disregarding the mundane desires and concerns, contemplating on the inner self and fostering a greater devotion to Allah is the essential purpose of Ramadan.
Muslims believe that during the month of Ramadan, Allah revealed the first verses of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam. Around 610 A.D., a caravan trader named Muhammad took to wandering the desert near Mecca (in today's Saudi Arabia) while thinking about his faith. One night a voice called to him from the night sky. It was the angel Gabriel, who told Muhammad he had been chosen to receive the word of Allah. In the days that followed, Muhammad found himself speaking the verses that would be transcribed as the Qur'an.
At many mosques during Ramadan, about one thirtieth of the Qur'an is recited each night in prayers known as tarawih. In this way, by the end of the month the complete scripture will have been recited.
The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root 'ramida' or 'ar-ramad', which means scorching heat or dryness. As the fundamental aspect of Ramadan is fasting, it is believed the name 'Ramadan' may signify the burning desire for drinking water and food. It may also refer to the belief that fasting with a pure intention and with religious blessings burns away the earlier sins.
According to the Muslim faith, observing the fast with absolute faith and unpolluted intentions will confer remittance of all his sins. It is believed that fasting midst the holy spirit of Ramadan is thirty times more potent than fasting any other time of the year.
Another historical significant event that took place on the month of Ramadan is the Battle of Badr - which is the first battle between Mecca aand Medina. The battle of Badr was fought in the present day Saudi Arabia, on March 17, 624CE that is 17 Ramadan 2 AH in the Islamic calendar. It was a defining moment in the Islamic history. The inhabitants of Mecca were worshipers of Idols or of pagan religion and the people of Medina were devout Muslims. Prophet Mohammad led the people of Medina against the pagan citizens of Mecca and with divine interventions manifested by the miracles of Allah; they won over the people of Mecca.
We were in Fez last year for Ramadan and I shall be interested to see the similarities and differences here.