Ramadan and its Protocol
Ramadan is the holy and one of the most revered months for Muslims. The month of Ramadhan is the ninth (9th) month of the Islamic Calendar, and it is among the “spiritual” months of Islamic civilization. The Islamic calendar also holds up to 12 months in a year like in the English calendar but the Islamic calendar is established on Moon sightings and days in a month vary from a minimum of 29 days to 30 days as maximum.
The month of Ramadan keeps a great significance in all Muslim life.
The importance of Ramadan is evident by numerous Ahadees. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) has said that,
“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
In the theology of Islam, it establishes five pillars to submit and heed them to assure a valid believer of Almighty Allah. The three among the five pillars, are fundamental in Ramdhan, without these three levels no one can honestly justify Ramdhan.
1- Prayer (نماز salat, 2nd pillar)
Though offer Five-time prayers in a day is a must part of Islam throughout the year for every adult Muslim man and woman but during Ramdhan, Muslims make sure that they did not quit any prayer and offer their Salat on time.
2- Alms ( زکوٰةzakat, 3rd pilar)
Zakat can be paid on any month of the year but during Ramadan, Muslims heighten their charity and donations to receive more reward (sawab).
The detection of “zakat (زکوٰة)” is on their reserved assets, like gold, silver, animals (those kept for a business purpose), cash and on any other valuable material, that is out of use for over 1 year.
3- Fasting (صوم swam,4th pillar)
Fasting is a specialty of the month of Ramadan.
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous – Surah Baqarah, Ayat 183
Fasting is to refrain from the dawn till sunset; Muslims not only refrain from food and drinks but from all bad deeds too.
The true reason for fasting is to attain piety and show complete obedience to Almighty Allah.
That’s why Ramdhan earmarked a unique imprint over other months.
Other significant facts associated with the month of Ramadan are,
The revelation of the Quran Kareem
Ramadhan is the month in which the Holy Book of Muslims and a true guideline for the whole of humanity was revealed.
The Quran Kareem, itself says that,
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلْقُرْءَانُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَٰتٍ مِّنَ ٱلْهُدَىٰ وَٱلْفُرْقَانِ
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. – Surah Baqarah, Ayah 185
A cheerful festival that the whole Muslim community celebrates at the end of Ramadan as a bounty of “fasting” the whole month and trying to be a true worshiper and a complete submission of Almighty Allah.
Fitrana is a “finite” donation for the deserving, and it is identical to food (dates, wheat, barley, resins, millet), which has to be pay according to affordability. The amount is approximately 2.25 kg of mentioned food above, per member of a family, and it is paid by the guardian of the family.
Fitrana is obligatory to pay on the last night of Ramadhan or before the Eid-ul-fitar prayer.
Muslims, all over the world, regardless of their language, ethnicity, living style, hail Ramdhan with tremendous enthusiasm and with full of Eman (ایمان).
The “charm” of the Ramdhan starts from the Moon sighting, Moon sighting itself an exciting part and it is important as well, especially related to this month.
The Significance of Moon sighting is understood through Hadees
Narrator AbuHurayrah R.A
(راوی ابو ہریرہ)”
Hadith No 2378
Hazrat Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) said:
Whenever you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramadan) observe fast, and when you sight it (the new moon of Shawwal) break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then observe fast for thirty days.
Special Prayer on Ramadan Moon Sighting
After the Moon sighting, Muslims make special prayer ( دعا
کی دیکھنے چاند) for the whole Islamic community, for themselves, and whole humanity.
RABBEE WA RABBUKALLAAHU RABBUL A’ALAMEEN ALLAAHUMMA AHILLAHOO A’LAYNAA BIL-AMNI WAL EEMAANI WAS SALAAMATI WAL ISLAAMI WAL MUSAARA-A’TI ILAA MAA TUH’IBBU WAL TARZ’AA ALLAAHUMMA BAARIK LANAA FEE SHARINAA HAAD’AA WAR-ZUQNAA KHAYRAHOO WA A’WNAHOO WAS’RIF A’NNAA Z’URRAHOO WA SHARRAHOO WA BALAAA-AHOO WA FITNATAHOO
My Lord and your Lord is Allah, the Lord of the worlds. O Allah for us let this month be a period of peace, faith safety and total submission to Thy will; make us walk apace swiftly to that which Thou likes and approves. O Allah pour out much blessings on us in this month, make available for us its generous good and assistance, and keep us safe from the harm, evil, misfortune and mischief that may try to trap us in this month.
The number of fast to observe are a minimum of 29 and a maximum of 30. It again depends on Moon-sighting for the next month (Shawwal).
Total Ashras in Ramadhan
The month of Ramdhan is divided into three Ashras (10 days per Ashra).
Each Ashra has its particular name, importance, and specific Dua to ask from Almighty Allah. The whole month of Ramadan is important but the last ten nights are most important and sacred in terms of asking prayers and Ibadat(عبادات).
According to few scholars, the odd nights (طاق راتیں) of last Ashra in Ramadhan are important. However, it is accepted by the maximum scholar that all nights of last Ashra are sacred and most important for Ibadat.
In the last Ashra, it’s the longing of most people to settle in “Aatiqaf” (اعتکاف) to spend these 10 days and nights in complete prayers and avail the maximum blessings of Almighty Allah and salvation from the fire of hell.
The significance of Three Ashras is as,
- 1st Ashra is of Blessing/Mercy (رحمت)
- 2nd Ashra is of Forgiveness (مغفرت)
- 3rd Ashra is of Salvation from the fire of hell (نجات/برات)
The specific prayers of Ashras are,
1st Ashra prayer,
“Oh! My Lord, forgive me and have mercy, and you are the best of the merciful.”
2nd Ashra prayer,
“I seek forgiveness from Allah, my Lord, from every sin, I committed”
3rd Ashra prayer,
“O, Allah! Save me from the hellfire.”
We can further magnify Ramadhan as “it keeps two shades within it”.
- One as ‘Ramadhan is the most spiritual month. Every Muslim strives his/her best to maximize him/herself in prayers, in the worship of Almighty Allah, and participate in charity in terms of Zakat and Sadqa.
- Second is the joy of Sehar(سحر) and Iftar(افطار). The whole family gathers and enjoys the two meals together. The beauty of Sehar and Iftar is, all Muslims nationwide dine their meal together in their own homes, according to precise mention time that is associated with Azan-e- Fajir(صبح صادق/ فجر) for “Sehar” to observe fast and Azan-e- Maghrib(مغرب کی اذان) for Iftar that is to break “fast”. It is the reminder of discipline and unity of life.
Muslims attempt to avail themselves of the special and nutritional meals at Sehar and Iftar time to maintain their stamina during the whole day fasting time.
They not only arrange food for themselves but share iftar with neighbors and also remember the needy and deserving at their possible end.
Some Guidelines for Ramadhan | How to Justify with Fasting and Manage daily routines
Shaban(شعبان) is the month that precedes the spiritual month of Ramadan. It was the beloved month to Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him). Apart from other significances of Shaban, actually, it is the time that Muslims start getting ready for the month of Ramadan.
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) used to fast extra during this month to gain additional reward.
In the month of Shaban, Muslims (all over the world) also observe fast, do Ibadat, and try to manage their routine for the coming month of Ramadhan.
Ramadhan is a month that teaches us discipline in life, builds stamina that one should attain, politeness, respect for mankind, and unity in the community.
Individuals, who are “weak”, with some chronic diseases, either keep a hectic routine or busy house chores but want to fast in Ramadhan and want to celebrate this spiritual month with its real essence, start practicing and managing their routine from the month Shaban.
Some Tips to Getting Ready for Ramadan
- Add healthy food to the diet to conserve the body full of nutrients already.
- Consume plenty of water in your daily routine, keep your body hydrated, these precautions keep your body healthy and free of infections, and will detoxify it.
- Manage your kitchen, complete your grocery, shopping for Eid, and finish all the pending work. This deed will save your time and energy during fasting and you will be more directed towards your prayers and Ibadat.
- If you are patient, consult your physician before Ramdhan and obtain updates associated with your health, diet to follow during fasting, to minimize any health issues, and disruption in fasting.
- Ramdhan is a spiritual month, this month urges on your prayers, more recitation of Quran Kareem so, be focused on your Ibadat instead of any time-consuming activities.
- Smokers, pan eaters (پان), naswar (نسوار) users or people with any bad addictions, should keep this in mind that to observe fast in Ramdhan is mandatory for all adult man and woman and there is no lame excuse is acceptable to quit this so, better to start working on your stamina previously, try to manage your anger (bad habits are not easy to quit, these habits build anxiety and aggression in one’s nature) and focus on your health.
- Breastfeeding mothers / pregnant women, you can manage to fast wisely but, before this, you have to supervise your schedule, review your diet pattern, add the most nutritious meal in your diet, improve your water intake and work on your stamina.
Pregnant Women and Fasting
It is proposed that women may not fast during their first and third trimester of pregnancy. However, in between, they can manage fast fearlessly. According to the Islamic point of view, pregnant women are permitted to quit fasting during Ramadan, if she fears that it could harm her or her baby health. But, she has to make up for the missing fasts later when she is stable.
Breastfeeding Mothers and Fasting
In old times, women were healthy, hard workers, and more anxious about their diet. Now women do diet and maximum are malnutrition and unstable physically. Some other ailments may arise; either Ramdhan is in hot weather or some particular issues. So, to address this issue, numerous “fatwas” have been given to facilitate women in making wise decisions for themselves about fasting.
It’s wise to manage your diet, routine, investigate your health, stamina, your baby’s need and get prepare for Fasting.
Following are Few Tips to Consider
Keep the body hydrated
Water intake is the most important fact for a healthy body and maintains the milk supply for the baby. So, keep taking water bit by bit after the Iftar till Sehar time to maintain the body requirements.
The healthy eating habit is wonderful for nursing your baby and for yourself too.
Add natural healthy food to your diet to maintain the energy level throughout the fasting time.
It is best to eat dates, milk, yogurt, protein-rich food, and complex carbohydrates-based meal especially at Sehar time to produce energy till Iftar time.
Alternate of breastfeeding
If the baby is above six months, introduce home-based natural solid food to the baby.
Fruits-based milkshakes are a wise choice as an alternate.
After carrying all vital steps, if you or your baby still feel uncomfortable, better to follow local scholars and a decision from the physician.
Fasting Duration All Over the World
Since ‘Sehar time and ‘Iftar time’ are totally dependent on sunrise and sunset. So, the duration is diverse in different countries.
It could be 20 hours long in a day (because of early sunrises and late sunsets) or it could be 16 or 17 hours long in a day.
Muslims of Ice land, Finland, Norway, and some other European countries observe the longest fast in the world.
Ramadhan may happen in winter or it may be in summer.
Ramadan in winter is a little bit easy. As in winters, we don’t have to suffer from the scorching sun the whole day long. Therefore, no dehydration or fatigue issues at all.
However, in summer, the dominant issues are dehydration, fatigue, and thirst which eventually lower down the potential or stamina of the body.
Ramadhan And The Individual Those Are With Fatal Diseases
This diversity of Ramdhan may develop complications for chronic disease patients, like,
- Diabetic patients
- Kidney patients
- Patients who are on “life-saving medicines”
Several types of researches have been done to date, related to “Fasting” and its effect on Health (Muslim lifestyle basically). These researches concluded that,
“Fasting helps to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and control diabetes”.
In order, to reduce these factors it helps in heart disease indirectly.
Despite all benefits of fasting in Ramadhan, There are a certain fraction of people who might be ill by fasting.
This decision is completely based on medical history and religious advice.
An individual can not make this decision personally. It is highly instructed to visit your consultant (4-6) weeks before Ramadan to realize your risk category before intending to fast. If your physician advises not to fast, you will get the same reward but, keep in mind you are exempt from fasting but, not from prayers or related Ibadat of Ramdhan.
Possible Complications in Diabetic Patients During Fasting
Low Blood Glucose
It is called hypoglycemia. In this condition, the blood glucose level of the body goes down very low. It may result in a coma and it is a life-threatening condition if not cured immediately.
High Blood Glucose
It is called hyperglycemia. In this condition, the glucose level in the blood increases abnormally. It must be treated immediately; otherwise, it may affect the eyes, kidney, nerves, or heart.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
In this condition, blood glucose does not regulate properly within the body. In response to this disruption, the body (liver) starts degrading its fat to generate adequate energy for the body, which prompts the blood too acidic, that disorder is a risk to life.
This condition is extra severe in diabetic patients because of excessive urination situations.
All above are some severe medical conditions that need to be treated immediately, through some sugary diet, insulin injection, or by some prescribed medicine.
Other issues which are associated with diabetic patients are extreme thirst, hunger, dry mouth, upset stomach, and vomiting. Due to this, fasting could be difficult or harmful for some patients.
Therefore the decision of fasting or not is based on the individual’s health condition, risk factors involved and it is made by a consultant.
To overcome the above-mentioned complications, diabetic patients should plan fast wisely.
- Keep a daily check of their glucose level, especially at Sehar time and when it requires according to the symptoms.
- Eat wisely and according to their diet plan.
- Instead of having sugary drinks during Sehar and Iftar, consume plenty of water to keep the body hydrated.
- Patients are from a mild illness to a severe level.
- They could be a kidney transplant or a donor.
- Individuals with “Renal stone” formation/risk issues.
The main question is when Ramdhan takes place in summer. Low intake of liquid and dehydration may turn the situation of patients worse.
Quranic Injunctions for Travelers and Patients During Ramadan
In Surah e Baqarah, Ayat : 184 Allah SWT has mentioned,
أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَٰتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُۥ
فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُۥ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا۟ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
“[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.”
Hence, travelers are given relaxation in fasting. However, they have to make up for that later. But, if they cannot make up later, they have to perform atonement as mentioned in the above ayat.
Remember! The true spirit of this spiritual month Ramadhan is patience, the obedience of Allah, and charity.
This month stresses a “practical performance” from a believer of Islam.
To observe fast is “mandatory” for all adult Muslims. No excuse is allowed without any genuine “fatwa” or “Medical basis”.