Ramadan Mubarak/Ramadan Kareem!

7:55 PM

Photographer: Yasmeen A. (me)

Ramadan Mubarak/Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim brothers and sisters! Yesterday was the beginning of a new month...the 9th month in the Islamic Lunar Calendar (Ramadan). Can you believe that Ramadan is already here? Subhanna'Allah! This year has gone by so fast! I'm just so glad Ramadan is here. It's the best month ever. I wish all the months in the year were as great as Ramadan! We all should be thankful to be celebrating this Ramadan as if it weren't for Allah (swt), he could have taken our lives before we had the chance to even fast. So we should be thankful to be given another opportunity...another chance at life at becoming a better, more stronger believer! At being able to repent for all the minor (and major) sins that we've done. Some people aren't able to repent as their time is over...finished. So to be able to celebrate Ramadan is truly a blessing, ahamdulilah! :)

For those of you who don't know about Ramadan, please continue reading and hopefully you'll understand it more. Then if you have any questions, you are more than welcome to ask!

Ramadan is the month in which Muslims are to fast the whole month, everyday from sunrise to sunset. You might be thinking we're crazy fasting for basically the whole day (well, 15 hours to be exact)! In reality, it isn't as bad as you think. Time flies and even though it may sound like an eternity, it's really not.

So why do Muslims fast, you ask. My answer(s) to you:

- Ramadan is the month in which our book (the Quran) was revealed.

- Fasting has been proven good for the body as it get rids of all the bad toxins in our body.

“Overweight Muslims with diabetes should take advantage of Ramadhan, as excess weight and obesity are closely linked to this disease, and weight reduction leads to improved health — especially in terms of reduced blood sugar levels as well as lower cholesterol levels and reduced blood pressure,” continued Dr Al Madani.Source: http://main.omanobserver.om/node/103674

- Fasting helps restrain you from commiting sins, especially the major ones.

Allah's Messenger said: "Whoever observes Saum (fasts) during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven."- Narrated by Abu Huraira  

(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 2: The Book of Belief, Chapter 25)

Allah's Messenger said: "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of the Hell are closed and the devils are chained."- Narrated by Abu Huraira 

(Sahih Al Bukhari, Book 31: The Book of As-Saum, Chapter 2, #923)

The Prophet said: "Whoever does not give up lying speech (false statements) and acting on those lies and evil actions, etc., Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink [i.e. Allah will not accept his Saum (fasting)]."- Narrated by Abu Huraira

(Sahih Al-Bukari, Book 31: The Book of As-Saum, Chapter 24, #925) 

- We fast to feel sympathy for the poor. It just shows how we should be thankful because at least at the end of the day, we have food to eat while the poor don't have any food/drink to come back to.

 - Lastly, fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, which means it's an obligation on all Muslims.

                           So what exactly is fasting, you then might ask... 

Definition of Fasting-

Abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, esp. as a religious observance.

That is the definition of fasting according to the dictionary. Futhermore, Islam defines what fasting is. Fasting, in terms of Islam, is restraining from any food/drink (yes, including water), sexual intercourse, and arguments/fights/cursing.

Allah's Messenger said: "Saum (fasting) is a shield (or a screen or a shelter from the Hell-fire). So the person observing Saum (fast) should avoid sexual relations with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him, or abuses him, he should say to him twice, 'I am observing Saum (fast).' The Prophet added, "By Him in whose hands my soul is, the smell coming out out from the mouth of a person observing Saum (fast) is better with Allah (swt) than the smell of musk. (Allah says about the fasting person), 'He has left his food, drink, and desires for My sake. The Saum (fast) is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times.' "- Narrated by Abu Huraira 

(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 31: The Book of As-Saum, Chapter 1, #919)

I always find it kind of odd and a bit funny how some people say it's acceptable to drink water. If water was acceptable, then there would be no point in fasting. Yes, water is an essential and a neccesity in life, but fasting won't kill you! I've been fasting since I was probably 5 years old and I'm still living. When I was younger, I never knew I had to fast. I did it because I saw my parents do it and you know how when we're younger, we like to act mature and older. Well, that's what I did, but as I got older (probably around 7 or 8), I started understanding the purpose of fasting. Children aren't required to fast, but it's best for them to start at an early age. Anyways, fasting will not harm you. Keep in mind, we don't fast 24 hours a day. We do get to eat early in the morning and at night. 

           However, there are some people who are exempt from fasting, such as:

- Women/girls who are in their menstrual cycle. Though once your cycle is over, you must continue fasting the rest of Ramadan and then after Ramadan is over, you must make up all those days of fasting you missed. So let's say your menstrual cycle was 7 days long, then after Ramadan, you must make up 7 days of fasting before the next Ramadan comes along the following year, which gives you plently of time to make up.

- Children/babies. However, it's best that they start fasting at an early age, so that they can prepare for fasting when they're older.

Narrated Ar-Rubai bint Mu'awwidh: "The Prophet sent a messenger to the village of the Ansar in the morning of the day of Ashura (10th of Muharram) to announce: 'Whoever has eaten something should not eat but complete the Saum (fast), and whoever is observing the Saum (fast) should complete it.'" She futher said, "Since then we used to observe Saum (fast) on that day regularly and also make our boys (children, etc) observe Saum (fast). We used to make toys of wool for the boys and if anyone of them cried for food, he was given those toys till it was the time of Iftar [breaking of the Saum (fast)].

(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Chapter 31: The Book of As-Saum, Chapter 30, #954)

- The elderly. It's not required for the elderly to fast, however, it's best if they do fast and if they don't, they should give charity (at least feed one person for every day of fasting they miss).

- The sickly/ill. If you have a really bad sickness/medical condition to where your doctor says you must eat to survive, especially if you have to take medication, then it is acceptable to eat. 

- Travellers

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: Allah's Messenger was on a journey and saw a crowd of people, and a man was being shaded (by them). He asked, " What is the matter?" They said, "He (the man) is observing Saum (fast)." The Prophet said, "It is not from Al- Birr (righteousness) to observe As-Saum (the fast) on a journey."

                  (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 31: The Book of As-Saum, Chapter 24, #947)

Narrated Aisha, the wife of the Prophet: Hamza bin 'Amr Al-Aslami, as he used to observe Saum (fast) often, asked the Prophet, "Should I observe Saum (fast) while traveling?" The Prophet replied, "You may observe Saum (fast) if you wish, and you may not observe Saum (fast) if you wish."

(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 31: The Book of As-Saum, Chapter 20, #944)

Note: If you forget that you're fasting and you eat/drink unintentionally (or by accident), then you must stop eating/drinking and complete the fast.

The Prophet said: "If somebody eats or drinks forgetfully then he should complete his Saum (fast), for what he has eaten or drunk, has been given to him by Allah."- Narrated by Abu Huraira

(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 31: The Book of As-Saum, Chapter 18, #940)

Some people might think I'm strange for saying that I love Ramadan. They're like why do you like Ramadan when you have to fast the whole month...what's so fun about fasting. There's much more then fasting. I do love fasting because I know I'm doing it for a good reason, but it's also because Ramadan is such a peaceful month! Ramadan is the month, in which the Shaytan and the evil jinns are locked up. So what does that mean? It means any sins you commit is from your own self because this time Shaytan isn't your excuse. This is the month where you basically show your true colors. It's so nice not having Shaytan around to bug you, isn't it? So I say even for the non-Muslims, try fasting! You don't have to give up your favorite things while fasting unless of course it distracts you and may cause you to commit sins. Also, you don't want to be wasting precious time, so instead try to do more religious things. Something that will be beneficial not only in this world but also in the HereAfter (i.e. reading the Koran and Hadiths, watching/listening to Islamic lectures, spend time with your family, make dhikr). I have seen and heard about how some non-Muslims fast with the Muslims. Though they might not fast the whole month, it's nice for them to try to fast than not fast at all. It gives them a little bit of an insight of what Muslims go through during Ramadan :)

Along with duas (aka supplications) to say when you begin and break your fast, in which you can also see in my photo above, I will include the prayer times, so that you know when to begin your fast and when to break your fast. I won't be able to post all the prayer times throughout the day because of the different time zones we all live in, but you can find the prayer times suitable for your area on the side of my blog close to the top. However, I will give out the times* for fajir and maghrib prayer, so you get an idea of when to begin and break your fast. 

* =These times will be for those who live on the Eastern Coast of the USA (EST).

Fajir Prayer starts @ 4:47am, so that is when fasting begins. So make sure you set your alarm earlier than this time, to give you time to eat Suhoor (breakfast). I usually take about 30 minutes to eat breakfast, so I set my alarm 30 minutes earlier. Keep in mind, you must eat something for breakfast even if it's a little date because in the Hadith, Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) mentioned that there is a blessing in Suhoor. So let's not waste a simple reward by skipping breakfast! :) 

Dua for beginning your fast:

"I intend to keep my fast today in the month of Ramadan."

Maghrib prayer starts @ 8:28pm, so that is the time fasting ends/you can break your fast. The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) use to break his fast by starting off with a date and a glass of water. That's why you see many people buying dates especially during this time of the year! :)

Dua for breaking your fast:

"O Allah, I fasted for You and I believe in You and I break my fast with your sustenance."

It's almost time for me to break my fast and maybe it is for you also, so for now, I'll end my post. I hope you all have a great Ramadan! May Allah (swt) forgive you all for your sins 
and accept your fasts! Ameen.

Wassalam & Ramadan Mubarak from my family to yours! :)

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