Ramadan comes from the Arabic root word for “parched thirst” and “sun-baked ground.” It defines the hunger and thirst felt by those who spend the month in fasting. During Ramadan, Muslims practice Sawm. Sawm, or fasting, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, in which Muslims are required to take part during Ramadan starting at the age of twelve. Muslims practice sawm for the entire month of Ramadan. They are not to eat or drink anything, including water, during the daylight. Muslims get up early for suhoor, a meal eaten before the sun rises. After the sun sets, Muslims eat the meal known as iftar, which usually begins with dates and sweet drinks that provide a quick energy boost.
Ramadan is the month in which Muslims believe the Quran was revealed. It is believed that the Quran was sent down to the lowest heaven during this month, thus being prepared for gradual revelation by Jibraeel to Muhammad, the Islamic prophet. During the month of Ramadan, Allah revealed the first verses of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. Around 610 A.D., a caravan trader named Muhammad took to wandering the desert near Mecca 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. Muhammad proclaimed that during this month, the gates of heaven would be open all the month and the gates of hell would be closed.
During Ramadan, Muslims are called upon to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. Ramadan is a religious holiday observed by the Muslims during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a period of fasting, reflection, devotion, generosity and sacrifice. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast. They abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the day. Ramadan is observed as a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-sacrifice. During this period, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue is restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes are restrained from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. Every part of the body observes the fast.
Ramadan happens on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which Muslims believe the Quran was revealed. Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted, Ramadan migrates throughout the seasons. For 2013, Ramadan will start on Tuesday, the 9th of July and will continue for 30 days until Wednesday, the 7th of August. Since the Islamic day starts after sunset, observing Muslims will celebrate Ramadan on the sunset of Monday, the 8th of July.