Ramadan (also known as Ramzan) is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is a period of prayer, fasting, charity-giving and self-accountability. The word “Ramadan” is derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of food and drink. It is considered to be the most holy and blessed month.

It is believed that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammad during the last third of Ramzan, making this an especially holy period. This occurred on Laylat Al-Qadr, one of the last 10 nights of the month.

Charity is generally a good thing in most religions, but in Islam, it is a duty. One of the pillars of Islam is zakat, the requirement that a Muslim must give 2.5 percent of his or her annual income to charity. During the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan, zakat is expected at a very high level, with giving above 2.5 percent called sadaqah.

Ramzan is also a time for many Muslims to donate to charity by participating in food drives for the poor, organising a collection or charity event, and other voluntary activities. The month traditionally begins with a moon-sighting. Many Muslims (except children, the sick and the elderly) abstain from food, drink and certain other activities during daylight hours.

Ramzan ends when the first crescent of the moon is sighted again, marking the new lunar month’s start. Eid ul-Fitr is the Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramzan.

In Islam all good deeds are handsomely rewarded in Ramzan than in any other month. Consequently, many will choose this time to give a larger portion of zakat. In addition, many will also use this time to give a larger portion of sadaqah in order to maximise the reward that will await them at the Last Judgment.

During Ramzan, it is a common sight to see people giving more food to the poor and the homeless, and even to see large public areas for the poor to come and break their fast. It is said that if a person helps a fasting person to break their fast, then they receive a reward for that fast, without diminishing the reward that the fasting person got for their fast.

It is also believed that one hand should not know what the other hand has given in charity and the person who has received charity should utilise it in such a way that he or she should be able to give charity the next year.

Eid ul-Fitr: Eid ul-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the month which follows Ramzan. It is a time to give charity to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy.

Before the day of Eid, during the last few days of Ramzan, each Muslim family gives a determined amount of actual food — rice, wheat, clothes etc. — to ensure that the needy can have a holiday meal and participate in the celebration. This donation is known as sadaqah ul-fitr (charity of fast-breaking).

On the day of Eid, Muslim brethren gather early in the morning in outdoor places or mosques for Eid prayer. This consists of a sermon followed by a short congregational prayer. Later, they visit family and friends, give gifts (especially to children) and call distant relatives to wish. These activities traditionally continue for three days.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore