Ramadan is the holist month in the Islamic calendar. The article below discusses its significance in detail.

Ramadan and its Significance

The sacred month of Ramadan, is considered the most significant month as per the traditional Islamic calendar. This is a month which is spent by the Muslim community throughout the world in great contemplation of the Almighty and self, while offering prayers, fasting and feasting. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Hijiri calendar and lasts around for 29 to 30 days, depending on the sightings of the crescent moon, with naked as per the Islamic tradition. The month long fasting during Ramadan is considered, one of the five pillars of Islam. The term Ramadan's root can be traced to the Arabic word ramida, which stands for sweltering heat. The biggest significance of this month lays in the fact that as per the Holy Quran, Prophet Muhammad received first verses of the holy text during Ramadan. Thus, this month is reveled as the most important month in the Islamic calendar.

As per Islamic law it is a scared duty of every adult Muslim to observe the fasting throughout this month, with an exception to those whore are severely ill, traveling, pregnant and menstruating women. During the fasting from sunrise till dusk, Muslims do not consume any food item or liquids. They also refrain from various habits like smoking, swearing and sexual intercourse. As per Islam, fasting is considered a great act of faith, which has many rewards but fasting particularly in this month is believed to have manifold rewards bestowed on the observer, from the almighty. Recitation of Quran and offering of prayers is also an integral part of Ramadan.

Practices during Ramadan
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is not just limited to refraining from consuming solids and liquids but it is the time designated for spiritual retrospection, to get rid of all the worldly clutter that shrouds ones mind and to focus on the spiritual aspect and teachings of Islam. From dawn to sunset, members of the community, while observing fast, offer increased number of prayer to God and abstain from any sort of sinful behavior, be it any addiction or dereliction in following any of the dictates of Islam. Though, it isn't compulsory for children to keep fast until they reach puberty but most do try to observe as many as possible, so that they can prepare for the future. The Quran gives leave to ill and traveling from observing the fast, but they must later on compensate for the days they have missed.

During Ramadan, traditionally only two meals are eaten. Before the breaking of the dawn suhoor (pre-fast meal) is eaten and after sunset iftar (fast-breaking meal), is taken. The food items included in these meals can be of wide variety and at many times the morning meal includes the leftovers from the last night's iftar. However, in the evening, most Muslims break their fast by first eating some dates, as it is believed that Muhammad broke his fast by eating three dates. In contemporary times, iftar has become a kind of social gathering, where relatives, friends and family members gather together have buffet style meals and break their fast together. On this occasion numerous delicacies are prepared, including special desserts.

Giving charity to the poor is also a common practice encouraged by Islam and is considered even more appropriate to indulge in, during Ramadan. Zakat is the amount that is prescribed as compulsory percentage of total savings that a person must donate to charitable causes, whereas sadaqa is the voluntary amount given to the poor. It is believed, that charity done in this month will garner manifold reward for the giver, than during the rest of the year. Besides distributing alms to the poor, during this sacred month Muslims are encouraged to offer prayers at least four to five times a day and read Quran. The last day of Ramadan is celebrated as Eid ul-Fitr and people gather at mosques for offering prayers, wear new cloths and enjoy feasts with friends and family members.