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Ramadan - Following the Moon PDF Print E-mail

Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان‎ Ramaḍān, Arabic pronunciation: [rɑmɑdˤɑːn]) (also Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan, Ramdan, Ramadaan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn until sunset. Fasting is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility and spirituality and is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God (Arabic: الله‎, trans: Allah) and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. As compared to the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving backwards about ten days each year depending on the moon. Muslims believe Ramadan to be the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.Origins of Ramadan
The name "Ramadan" had been the name of the ninth month in Arabian culture long before the arrival of Islam; the word itself derived from an Arabic root rmḍ, as in words like "ramiḍa" or "ar-ramaḍ" denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. In the Qu'ran, God proclaims that "fasting has been written down (as obligatory) upon you, as it was upon those before you". According to the earliest hadith, this refers to the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur.

Sometimes referred to as "the night of decree or measures", Laylat al-Qadr is considered the most holy night of the year, as it is the night in which the Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Muslims believe it to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan, either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th (in Sunni thought) or the 19th, 21st or 23rd (in Shi'a thought). Ramadan ends with Eid ul-Fitr on the 1 of Shawwal, with much celebration and feasting. During the month following Ramadan, called Shawwal, Muslims are encouraged to fast for a further six days, known as as-Sitta al-Bīḍ, or "the white six." When fasting is over, Muslims go to mosques in formal clothes to pray the first Eid prayer. They give out presents to the young ones and greet their friends and families. They then thank God for what He has given them.

Eid ul-Fitr 

The holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎) marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, per the lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast; a special celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-fitr); everyone puts on their best, usually new, clothes; and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. The prayer is two Raka'ahs only, and it is optional (mustahabb) prayer as opposed to the compulsory five daily prayers. Muslims are expected to do this as an act of worship, and to thank God.

Determining the start date

The beginning of Ramadan is based upon the Islamic calendar and observing the first waxing crescent moon.Hilāl (the crescent) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon indicates the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan

The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion. So whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or on a journey, (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days. Allah desires ease for you, and He desires not hardship for you, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for having guided you and that you may give thanks.

--Qur'an 2:185

There are disagreements each year however on when Ramadan starts. This stems from Saudi traditions to sight the moon with the naked eye and as such there are differences for countries on opposite sides of the globe. More recently however, some Muslims are leaning towards using astronomical calculations to avoid this confusion.

For the year of 1431 Hijri, the first day of Ramadan was determined to be August 11th, 2010.

 

 

Information from Wikipedia