What Is Ramadan?
Ramadan (Ramadhan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (Hijri). It’s considered one of the holiest months for Muslims. In this month we fast from dawn until sunset, which means no eating or drinking during daytime. Another reason why it is such a holy month it’s because Quran, Muslim’s holy book, was sent to us during Ramadan.
In Ramadan, the goal isn’t just not eating for some hours, it’s important to be a better and kinder human/Muslim. The reward for worshiping and doing good is more in the month of Ramadan, so we try not to miss that opportunity as it comes only once a year and we make sure to get the best out of it and spend a lot of time worshiping, doing more charity, and helping more people. While fasting, it’s forbidden to use bad words or to get angry because these are the opposite of what Ramadan and fasting are all about. It is important to remember that Ramadan is the month of forgiveness and we should make amends with those whom we’re not on good terms with.
In the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims give Zakat. It is one of the pillars of Islam. And it is one of the obligatory forms of charity. People who are more fortunate and have a good life are giving zakat to people who are in need. This can help a lot of people and reminds us to stay humble.
When is Ramadan?
Because Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, it is following the moon phases. So each year, the date of Ramadan in the Gregorian calendar moves forward about 10-11 days due to the different lengths of the Islamic and Gregorian years.
A Day in Ramadan!
In order to fast, we have a meal before dawn which goes by different names in different languages. In Arabic (and the most commonly used one) it’s called Suhur, in Kurdish we call it Parshiw, and in English it’s pre-dawn meal. There is a lot of blessing in having that meal. You can have a simple meal with cheese, yogurt and tea, or do like I sometimes do and have a meal similar to lunch!
As I mentioned above, this holy month happens on a different date each year. So in the summer, because the nights are shorter, the pre-dawn meal is at around three in the morning, that’s why most people rather stay awake until then, but in the winter, it’s later, so less people stay awake. I remember years ago, when Ramadan was in the summer and I was on the summer break, I managed to stay awake until then and prepare something to eat. But now, because it’s later and it’s not summer break, I can’t stay awake that late.
After the pre-dawn meal and the morning prayer, some people go back to sleep and some people stay awake, read the Quran, and do more worship. If one doesn’t have a job in the morning, they usually sleep in and wake up around noon.
Around afternoon, people start preparing the iftar meal which is the meal we have when we break our fast. Usually the mother is cooking and the rest are helping around making salads, preparing the table and so on. It’s a beautiful time because each person is busy with their task. Around 10-15 minutes before Maghrib (sunset) prayer, everything is ready. While waiting, most people make dua (a prayer of supplication or request) as it’s one of the best times to make dua.
After the iftar meal, cleaning up the kitchen will start, and usually everyone around helps. And after that, Kurdish people drink tea, because we like to have tea after meals. I personally don’t have tea after meals.
Ramadan brings families closer to each other which is one of the things I really like about it.
Then it will be the time for the last prayer of the day, which is Isha prayer. In Ramadan, there is Tarawih. It’s a special prayer that’s done only in this month. Most people go to the mosque and some choose to do it at home. It’s also optional, that means it’s up to you if you want to pray it or not. But who wants to miss an opportunity that comes only once a year?
We also love going out at night rather than day because during the day we’re a bit tired and busy with cooking, so we postpone a lot of activities to the night-time.
And of course people read the Quran throughout the day depending on when they have free time.
The last ten nights of Ramadan are known as Qadr nights and they are one of the most important times of Ramadan. Muslims stay awake until morning prayer time and do more worshiping.
Who Is Allowed to Fast?
In order for people to fast, they need to be healthy and the fasting won’t affect them physically. So basically, sick people, elderly, pregnant women, and women on their periods aren’t allowed to fast. If a person cannot fast during Ramadan, they can fast later on, and if someone cannot fast at all, they can pay for the days instead.
How We Celebrate Ramadan!
When Ramadan finishes, we celebrate it with Eid. In Islam, we have two Eids. Ramadan Eid is the first one that we celebrate. It consists of three days. On the breakfast of the first day, we cook rice, chicken, meat, soup, and make salad. It’s not an ordinary breakfast, and I really like that time with my family.
During Eid days, people wear new and beautiful clothes, we visit each other, serve candies, sweets, kulicha (a type of Iraqi sweets), and a variety of drinks like tea, juice, cola, and sometimes coffee.
Me and Ramadan!
Ramadan is one of my favorite times of the year. It helps me to improve myself as a Muslim and as a human. I like how it brings me closer to Allah. Another thing I like is how the atmosphere of Ramadan is completely different and that families are spending more time together. And the last thing about Ramadan that is so special to me is that when it was February 12th, 1995 (the day I was born), it was also the 12th day of Ramadan 1415. Maybe being born in Ramadan does make me feel much different about it.