What Ramadan Means to Me
Ibrahim B. Syed,
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA
KEY WORDS: Hilal, Siyam, Taraweeh,
Taqwa, Lailathul Qadar,
Qur’an, Itikaf, Zakahtul-Fitra,
Zakah, Eid ul Fitr.
Ramadan means heat. It
is the 9th month in the Islamic month. Ramadan is the most sacred
month in the Islamic calendar and fasting in the month of Ramadan is obligatory.
Ramadan has great blessings for Believers. This great month is essentially a
month of absolute and unqualified devotion to the Creator, which strengthens the
relationship between man and his Lord. Ramadan is the most blessed among all
months, so much so that the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) has described it
as Allah's own month. Our Lord bestows mercy and blessings on His servants in
the first part of Ramadan, forgives their sins in the middle part of Ramadan and
delivers them from the fire of Hell in the last part of Ramadan. According to
Tradition, the Almighty said: Fasting is for Me and I would Myself grant reward
for it. Fasting gives us the ability to rise above great pain and see calmness
and peace in any situation. By fasting we focus on sentiments that promote
harmony. Fasting promotes us to find our inner strength and eliminate hatred.
Sighting of Hilal:
In all Muslim
countries, including the land where Islam was born, the moon set before the sun
set on the evening of December 18, 1998. Yet all the Muslim countries declared
December 19, 1998 as the first day of Ramadan. The irony is that if December 19,
1998 is the first day of Ramadan then the month of Shaban in America completed
only 28 days. The Islamic month based on the lunar calendar; there are 29 days
or 30 days. There cannot be 28 days or 31 days in the Islamic month. It is a
pity that some Muslims in America including Lexington, and Louisville, started
fasting from December 19, 1998. If first day of Shawwal occurs on January 19,
1999, then they would have completed 31 days of Ramadan. Hence these people have
to celebrate the Eid ul Fitr on January 18, 1998 irrespective of whether the
hilal or crescent was sighted or not on the evening of January 17, 1999. However
January 17, 1999 is a new moon day. Hence it is impossible to see the hilal on
the evening of January 17, 1999. I am very disappointed by the sheer Jahaliyyah
or ignorance of these Muslims.
The general rules in
Shari'ah are length of the month should be either 29 days or 30 days. Length of
the year should not be less than 354 days and not more than 355 days. If
crescent (Hilal) is not seen on the 29th or due to clouds, complete
the month as of 30 days. The sighting report should not conflict with the basic
scientific understanding and natural laws. The lunar day starts from the Sunset
to the following sunset and the difference in Hilal will not exceed 24 hours
worldwide. It is a scientific fact that if a Hilal is visible in one place, then
it will be visible in all places West of the sighted place within the
International Lunar Date Line (ILDL). The Ulema re-emphasize the fact that all
laws and rules in Islam are in conformity with the natural systems.
Yaqub Ibn Tariq
(767-778 CE), Habit al-Hasid (740-840 CE), Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (830
CE), al-Farghani (850 CE), Muhammad Ibn Jabir al-Battani (850-929 CE),
Nasiruddin al-Tusi (13 th century) and Al-Biruni (10th century) were
eminent Muslim astronomers about one thousand years ago. Al-Biruni quotes in his
famous text that the scientific prediction methods for the new crescent are
basically to help test the reliability of sighting reports.
The new moon occurs
when the sun, moon and the earth are aligned on one axis. In otherwords they are
in conjunction, and the moon is NOT visible from the earth. The moon is
born the moment the moon crosses this line of conjunction. The Hilal can be seen
only when its minimum age is 18 hours or more, generally
20-24 hours and
the moonset must and should occur after the sunset, generally about 50
minutes or later. The moonset minus sunset must be equal or greater than 41 + or
- 2 at 0 latitude, or 46 + or - 4 at 30 latitude, or 49 + or - 9 at 40 latitude
or 55 + or - 15 at 50 latitude. At sunset, the angular separation of moon and
sun must be more than 12 degrees, and the altitude of the moon above the horizon
must be more than 10 degrees.
The Amavas or New Moon
(in Urdu Viladath or Tauleed Qamar) occurs on January 17, 1999. Hence the
Shawwal Hilal will be sighted on January 18, 1999 and the Eid ul Fitr,
Insha'Allah will be on January 19, 1999.
BENEFITS OF RAMADAN:
Zahir or Exoteric.
Benefits that are manifested outwardly or those that are visible, such as losing
weight, giving up smoking, etc. Today Muslims give too much attention to things
that are Zahir such as beard in the male and Hijab in the female. Even though
Qur’an specifically states for men to lower their gaze. Some brothers are
obsessive on these petty things. On the otherhand more energies should be spent
on Taqwa, Amal and Ilm.
Batin or Esoteric.
Benefits that are inward or intangible or those that are not felt or measurable.
Examples are the mental and spiritual benefits.
In fasting and praying
during Ramadan, physical and as well as mental benefits are accrued.: lower
blood pressure, increase circulation and tone muscles and improves balance and
derive many therapeutic benefits. One develops the power for a stronger focus,
better crisis management skills. One can derive immediate benefits in terms of
concentration, relaxation and physical and mental balance.
One develops integrity
and a drive to get things done. Most important of all is perpetual optimism,
which is a force multiplier.
practical training to inculcate righteousness for obedience to Allah Almighty by
restraining oneself from material pleasures like food, drink and carnal
pleasures which strengthens a Muslim's will and determination and disciplines
him/her on road to steadfastness, truth and purity. Fasting also helps in
realizing the purification of heart and soul.
Self-Control or Will
This comes under Taqwa.
Taqwa means God-consciousness, Fear of God, Piety, and many other meanings.
Ramadan shows me a way
to focus my money- and my time- on reaching true goals.
Through Taqwa we
conquer our sensual desires, our carnal desires and most important of all our
most destructive emotion of man- anger. Anger is not only a waste of energy but
also is counterproductive, preventing rational thought. If our mind is dominated
by anger it becomes almost mad. You cannot make right decisions, and you cannot
see reality. But if your mind is calm and stable, you will see everything
exactly as it is. Achieving dominion over the emotions and the mind is key to
assuming full responsibility for our lives, a tenet of Islam. We need to control
our frame of mind through Taqwa, as it is a major factor in everything that
happens to us.
Credit cards are used
to buy goods in one – to two-year period that used to take 20 years to
accumulate. Credit cards are like Shaitan-will destroy you, if you cannot
control their use. A 25-year-old does not need a BMW or Mercedes. You will find
it very difficult to get out of the hole you dig for yourself, using the Credit
card. Trapped in want it now –philosophy- appliances and luxury
goods-recreational devices, entertainment goods – is the heart of today’s credit
Through Taqwa I learned
to live below my means. Debt problems come from poor focus on both time and
money. The money saved by living below one’s means should be invested. One
should build capital at a young age, so it will work for you. One should invest
in what one knows best. One should invest take certain amount of risk to get a
higher rate of return. When investing one should do the homework first. This
will assure that the expected rewards are worth the risks.
The main objective of
the month of Ramadan is Taqwa. The month of fasting trains the will and
strengthens the character of the fasting believer so that he/she may act more
and more on the Qur'an. The month -long regime of dawn-to-dusk abstinence from
food, drink and sex for the sake of Allah alone internalizes the lesson that one
must faithfully and meticulously follow commands and abstain from His
prohibitions. A man or woman is no more a slave to his/her own self-indulgence
as he prepares for the arduous journey on the road to Faith.
One should conserve
time, as time is Divine. To save time, you have to decide what is trivial and
what is not. In Ramadan I learned not to spend too much time doing trivial
things. Usually most of the people spend too much time doing trivial things,
such as gossiping, back-biting, eve-teasing, etc., It is clear that during
fasting back biting, lying, doing other small or big sins and talking nonsense
must be avoided. If you are not organized, you will spend a lot of time
searching for things. Know what you want. If you spend time doing the
nonessentials, it will be harder for you in the future. Time should be spent
reading and understanding the Qur’an in Arabic. Increase one’s knowledge of
Islam. One should look at the larger picture of Islam rather than the petty
things around us. If one becomes obsessive on petty things, then it reflects
that person’s shall knowledge of Islam and weak intellectual power.
Ramadan taught me to
have values, principles and conviction, so that I soar to greater heights in
Our Rasool Allah (pbuh)
never gave Zakah because he was a Nabi and secondly he never kept any
materialistic things. If we selfishly pursue only what we believe to be in our
own interest, without caring about the needs of others, we not only may end up
harming others, but also ourselves. Hence Zakah is obligatory in Islam.
2. One of the companions of Rasulullah
(SAW), Abu Ummah (RA) has requested the Prophet to instruct him to perform one
beneficial ibadah. Prophet replied, " DO FAST FOR THERE IS NO OTHER IBADA
COMPARABLE TO IT."
- In Ramadan a reward or requital of
a thing is multiplied by 700 times more than actually due.