Ramadan and Fasting رمضان و الصوم Posted by Fisal on Aug 8, 2011 in Arabic Language, Culture, Vocabulary
Today is the eighth day of the holy month of Ramadan which is the ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar. For all Muslims all over the world, Ramadan is the special month when they fast. Fasting الصوم /As’sawm/ is the fourth of the five pillar of Islam. It is a duty for all Muslims who are sane, capable and pubescent.
In the terminology of the Islamic law, sawm (fasting) means to abstain from eating, drinking (including water), smoking and any sexual relations from dawn (Fajr الفجر ) until sunset (maghrib المغرب ) during the whole month of Ramadan. That is on the physical level. On the moral and behavioral level, one must abstain from lying, malicious gossip and trivial nonsense.
Sawm or fasting is essentially and attempt to seek nearness to Allah الله and to increase one’s piety (Taqwa التقوى ). One of the remote aims of fasting is to sympathize with those less fortunate ones who don’t always have food and drink readily available. Also, one must avoid cursing and thinking evil thoughts. Fasting is also viewed as a means of controlling one’s desires; (of hunger, thirst, sexuality, anger) and focusing more on devoting oneself to Allah (God). Sawm also carries a significant spiritual meaning. It teaches us the principle of Love الحُب . When one observes fasting, it is done out of deep love of Allah and to learn self-restraint.
Those who are sick, elderly or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast, but must make up an equal number of days later in the year and before the next Ramadan. If physically unable to do so, they must feed a needy person for each day missed.
Although fasting is beneficial to health, it is regarded principally as a method of self-purification تطهير النفس . By cutting oneself off from worldly pleasures and comforts, even for a short time, the fasting person gains true sympathy for those who go hungry regularly, and achieves growth in his spiritual life, learning discipline, self-restraint, patience and flexibility.
In addition to the fast proper, one is encouraged to read the entire Qura’an. Also, Special prayers called Taraweeh التراويح are held in the mosque or at home every night of the month. During these prayers (Taraweeh) the whole Qura’an is completed all over the month. The prayers are done in remembrance of the fact that the revelation of the Qura’an to Prophet Muhammad was begun during Ramadan.
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Peace سلام /Salam/
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