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What Ramadan Means to Me

Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. 
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.



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.

Fasting imparts 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 Power 

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 card mania. 


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 life. 


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.  


  1. In Ramadan a reward or requital of a thing is multiplied by 700 times more than actually due.
   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."


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