Ramadan or Ramadhaan occurs in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It is believed that during this month the Holy Qur’an (Ko-ran) was received. It is told that Muhammad was alone near Mecca when the Angel Gabriel came to him. The angel told Muhammad to read but Mohammed could not so the angel taught Muhammad some verses over the next ten days. These verses are known as the Holy Qur’an. Muslims believe the Qur’an holds the exact words of God.
Ramadan is the fasting month. During this month Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset. It is believed this heightens spirituality and develops self-control. Sexual relations are also refrained from during these hours. Each day a special effort is made to say the five daily prayers. The morning prayer is said after suhur, the pre-dawn meal.
The last ten days of Ramadan are a time of the greatest devotion. Some Muslims spend those days in a mosque. Lailat ul-Qadr or the Night of Power is the night which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad. It is generally held on the 27th night of the month and the night is generally spent in prayer.
The end of Ramadan is a joyous occasion known as Eid-ul-Fitr typically lasting three days. It is known as the festival of ever-recurring happiness and is celebrated with special prayers, feasts, sweets, and gift giving. This is also known as Hari Raya Puasa in South East Asia and Seker Bayrami in Turkey.
The Muslim year is made up of twelve lunar months. It is twelve days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, Ramadan moves through all four seasons every 33 years.
From sunrise to sunset Muslims must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations. Sunrise is considered the time when the sun’s first light may be seen on the horizon when the white cord may be distinguished from the black cord.
It is believed that fasting heightens spirituality and develops self-control. All this may be lost if one tells of a lie, slanders another, denounces someone behind his back, takes a false oath or is greedy. The fast is broken at sunset with ‘iftar, the evening meal and a prayer. Visiting friends and family is also customary at this time. Fasting is mandatory for every Muslim who is sane, adult, able, and resident. The following exemptions apply:
- the insane
- children who are not adolescent yet
- the sick as well as travelers may defer their fasting*
- pregnant women and nursing women*
- women whom have just given birth*
- women whom are menstruating*
- the elderly and chronically ill for whom fasting is strenuous**
*These people may fast at a later time.
**These people feed at least one poor person every day during Ramadan.
Muslims in Turkey celebrate the end of Ramadan with Seker Bayrami, The Candy Festival. New clothes are worn, gifts are given, and families gather at the home of the eldest family member. Candy, small cakes, sweetened coffee, and fruit are served.
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