Ramadan is one of the most important times of the year for Muslims because this is when the Muslims undergo a ritual fast. Lasting 29 to 30 days, this is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and it is also believed to be very auspicious. Muslims mark this month, which was when the first verses of the Holy Quran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), by living in a state of self-control. Muslims refrain from all food, drinks and sexual activity from dawn to sunset for the duration of this month and to do a lot more prayers than normal. As a Muslim, you will practice spirituality and tolerance when you fast during this month. This is also a period that reminds you to practice generosity towards people who are less fortunate than you. Ramadan is the month of sacrifice, understanding, brotherhood and the best time to convey your love to all who are in need.
“Oh you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who came before you that you may keep your duty to your Lord (having taqwa),” 2:185
According to the Holy Quran, children and the infirm and aged are not required to fast during the month of Ramadan, but lots of older kids start off on it because it gives them good practice for handling the responsibilities of adulthood. Children who reached puberty are considered to be eligible to take up the fast and it has been made compulsory. In that case, it is highly advised by the experts to start practicing this pious method in children from their young age itself. This moulds them well to start off when they are ready for it. You can start your kids off on the fast if you feel that they are physically strong and mentally mature enough to handle it. Offering gifts and keeping up the promises with children are great ways to encourage them to begin with their ibadat with ease.
This long fast is one of the best ways for your entire family to practice self-discipline and appreciate the blessings that have been bestowed upon you all. It gives you immense power to face any terrible situation inculcating good habits and deeds especially patience and courage to overcome the hard times. Each and every good deed is rewarded greatly by the Almighty during this month and so it is wise to receive the maximum during this period of time.
The breaking of the daily fast is usually done in a spirit of togetherness. This is a great time for families and friends to get together. The traditional way to break the Ramadan fast is with dates and water after which it is time to do the fourth of the five daily prayers. This prayer, known as Maghreb, is then followed by the main meal of the day, Iftar.
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you; and (He desireth) that ye should complete the period, and that ye should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that peradventure ye may be thankful.” ~Quran, 2:185
The best time to dua is while you are about to break the fast once the Adhan is heard. Allah showers his greatest blessings during this time so it is the right time to pray with purest of intentions as you have refrained yourself for the sake of Allah to attain higher spiritual level. Iftar is a great way for you to break your daily fast in the company of your friends and family. This is a great time to try out all sorts of delicacies. Most Muslim communities have their favorite foods for this special meal. As a matter of fact, it is becoming very commonplace for people to throw parties not just for the people close to them but also with people from the neighborhood because this is one of the best ways of fostering a spirit of brotherhood. You can source recipes from Muslim communities all over the world in order to come up with a really unusual menu for your event.
If you live in a country that has a predominantly Muslim population, then there are many interesting things you could do during Ramadan. Shops and restaurants reopen at night and will stay open until the wee hours of the morning because of the groups of families and friends who are out on the streets, having a great time.
Make it a point to include all the people close to you when you plan Iftar the next time you fast for Ramadan. This is a very good way of spreading the message of brotherhood and serves as a good example for the younger generation to follow.