Ramzan 2015: Muslims’ Month-Long Fast Begins

Ramzan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, began on Thursday with Muslims observing daytime fasting and converging in Iftar parties in the night to break their day-long fast, an occasion for both social gatherings and religious get-together.

President of India Pranab Mukherjee has greeted all fellows Muslims on the occasion of the commencement of the holy month of Ramzan. “I greet all my Muslim brothers and sisters on the occasion of the commencement of the holy month of Ramzan. May the spirit of Ramzan illuminate the world, show us the way to peace and harmony and remind us of our duties towards the less privileged,” he said.

One of the five tenets of Islam, observing fast in the month of Ramzan is a must for Muslims, with exceptions granted only to those who are suffering from an illness, travelling, are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding.

While charity is another significant part of during Ramzan, a strict NO to eveil thoughts and daytime eating and drinking, make the month rigorous for Muslims.

Derived from the Arabic word for fasting “sawm”, it literally means “to refrain” not only from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words. It includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of the Quran. According to the Quran, Prophet Muhammad first received revelations from god during the month of Ramadan and hence it is a sacred month in the entire Islamic calendar.

During Ramadan, every part of the body must follow the tenets such as:

— The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip.
— The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at women.
— The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it.
— The ears must refrain from listening to obscene words and
— The feet must refrain from visiting sinful places.

Usually during the month of Iftaar, Muslims break their fast with dates in the evening, as Prophet Mohammad broke his fast with three dates. fter that, Muslims generally go for the Maghrib prayer, the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meal is taken.
Iftars are held for visitors and friend in the evening in a buffet style serving traditional dishes and desserts, besides juices and water. Other food items include lamb stewed with wheat berries, lamb kebabs with grilled vegetables, or roast chicken served with chickpea-studded rice pulav. Teh meals finishes usually with a rich dessert, luqaimat or baklava or kunafeh (sweet kadaifi noodle pastry).

Ramzan Greetings/ Messages:
The general greeting in any language is “I hope you have a blessed Ramzan,” or “may you have a peaceful Ramzan.” In common Arabic, “Ramadan Kareem!” which means Noble or Generous Ramadan!” or “Ramadan Mubarak!” (Blessed Ramadan) are some general greetings often used. In addition, “Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair!” (May every year find you in good health!) is also used to greet people during the month of Ramadan. The month-long fasting ends with a holiday called Eid al-Fitr or the Festival of Fast-Breaking.

In some Muslim countries, failing to fast is a crime. In Algeria, the court of Biskra sentenced 6 people to 4 years in prison for violating the tenets of Ramadan and in Kuwait, according to law number 44 of 1968, the penalty is 100 Kuwaiti dinars for those seen eating, drinking or smoking during Ramadan daytime.

In the U.A.E., eating or drinking during the daytime of Ramadan is punished by up to 240 hours of community service, while in Egypt, alcohol sales are banned during Ramadan. Otherwise, UAE allows liberal working hours during Ramadan with a maximum of 6 hours daily and 36 hours per week. Even Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait have similar working hours during Ramadan.

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