Ramadān (Arabic: شهر رمضان) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which Muslims are required to fast in. Fasting means abstaing from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset. It is considered to be the most blessed month in Islam, and in it is laylatu-l-qadr ليلة القدر ("Night of Decree", "Night of Power") which is the night in which the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an, was first revealed and which Allah says in the Qur'an to be "better than a thousand months" (097:003). Every night during the month of Ramadan Tarawih prayers (صلاة التراويح salāt ut-tarawīh) are held in the mosque.
The month begins at the sighting of the new moon, and ends with the sighting of the next new moon. Eid al-Fitr (the festival of the breaking of the fast) takes places immediately after Ramadan, on the first day of Shawwal.
The word Ramadan occurs once in the Qur'an in 002:185.
The word Ramadan is derived from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad which denotes intense scorching heat and dryness, especially the ground. This might imply that the month was named during a hot time of the year.
 Sighting of the new moon
There is a difference of opinion on how may witnesses are needed to begin (or end) the fasting of the month. According to some, the new moon must be witnessed by at least one reliable individual in order for fasting to begin. This is based on a hadith in which 'Abdullah bin 'Umar testified to seeing the crescent. According to others there must be at least two individuals who witnessed the new moon in order to commence fasting. A hadith reported in Sahih Bukhari records the Prophet as saying "we do not use astronomical writing or computation" for calculation of when to begin fasting.
The Prophet would fast 29 days, and if the moon was obscured he would continue fasting for thirty days.
 Worship during Ramadan
Often translated as "fasting", the Arabic word sawm صوم literally means "to refrain". During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. Muslims must not only refrain from eating and drinking, but also from evil actions, thoughts, and words: "Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink." Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and it is a type of 'ibādah (worship). Fasting becomes obligatory upon a Muslim upon reaching puberty. Children and feeble elderly are exempted from fasting. The Qur'an explains that fasting helps achieve self-restraint (002:183). Muslims are also reminded of the suffering of the poor while they are hungry and thirsty. Those who are sick or traveling during Ramadan are required to make up for the missed days after Ramadan (002:185).
It is an established sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad used to take a light meal, known as the sahūr سحور, just before starting the fast at dawn. The Prophet described the sahūr as a barakah (blessing): "Take your early morning meal for in it is blessing." (Ahmad) Sahūr can constitute of a large or small meal or even by a small sip of water or soup.
The breaking of the fast is at sunset, and it is known in Arabic as the iftār إفطار (also called fitūr فطور literally: "breakfast"). The Prophet used to hasten in breaking of his fast at sunset, and encouraged others to do so as well. It is recommended breaking one's fast with fresh dates, and is a sunnah to do so. The Prophet used to break his fast with fresh dates (رطب rutub) before praying maghrib prayer. If fresh dates were not available, he would break it with dried dates (تمر tamr), and if both were not available, then with a few sips of water.
 Tarawīh prayer
Each night during Ramadan, about one thirtieth of the Qur'an is recited at mosques during the tarawīh (Arabic: صلاة التراويح) prayer so that by the end of the month the entire Qur'an would be completed. This prayer is held after the isha salat. The word tarawih is derived from an Arabic word which means to rest and relax. The prayer can last for a long time (greater than an hour), and consists of many rak'ah. One rak'ah can be described as the cycle of standing while reciting the Qur'an, bowing, and two prostrations. After each four cycles (rak'ah), one sits for short period of time of rest before continuing the prayer. The tarawih prayer ("rest prayer") gets its name from this rest.
There is a difference of opinon in the number of rak'ah that should be prayed for the tarawih. According to Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institue of Toronto, there is no fixed number of rak'ah for the tarawih prayer.
I'tikaf (Arabic: أعتكاف) is the seclusion of oneself in the mosque for a prolonged period with the intention of worship, especially during the last ten days of Ramadan. A Muslim who performs i'tikaf will spend their entire time in the mosque, praying, doing dhikr, and reading and pondering over the meaning of the Qur'an. I'tikaf was practiced by Muhammad every year during the last ten days Ramadan, except for the last year of his life when he stayed in the mosque for twenty days.
 Recitation of the Qur'an
 Holy days
Laylat al-Qadr (Arabic: ليلة القدر) is the night in which the Qur'an was first revealed to Muhammad by Allah via the angel Gabriel (جبريل jibrīl). This night is regarded by Muslims as the most imporant event in history. The Qur'an describes the night as a "Blessed Night" (044:003) and "better than a thousand months" (097:003). The night is traditionally thought to be on the 27th of the month, however the Prophet has never mentioned any specific date. The Prophet has advised Muslims to seek the Laylat al-Qadr on the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.
Muslims will often stay up every odd night of the last ten nights of Ramadan praying, reciting the Qur'an, and asking for forgiveness. Sincere supplications will be answered on Laylat al-Qadr. A tradition has the Prophet as saying, "Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards then all his past sins will be forgiven." (Bukhari)
Eid ul-Fitr commences after the last day of Ramadan and lasts for three days. Zakat ul-Fitr is given out to the poor before the Eid prayer.
 Hadith on Ramadan
The Hadith recounts the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).
- In a hadith, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says, "Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted." [Narrated by Tabarani]. 
 Key Events In Ramadan
- 2 AH (624 CE). Battle of Badr
- 8 AH (629 CE). Return and Conquest of Makkah
- 53 AH (672 CE). Opening Conquest of Rhodes
- 91 AH (709 CE). Successful landing of Muslims on the coast of Spain by Tariq Ibn Ziyad
- 92 AH (710 CE). Muslim victory led by Tariq Ibn Ziyad against the King of Spain
- 584 AH (1188 CE). Muslim victory over the Crusaders. Muslims led by Salahuddin Ayyubi.
- 647 AH (1249 CE). Muslim victory versus French Army led by Louis the 9th who was taken as a war prisoner in Mansura, Egypt
- 650 AH (1252 CE). Mameluke victory versus invading Tatars in the Battle of Ain Jaloot
 See also
- ↑ Shu`aib, Tajuddin. What is Ramadan?. Da`awah Enterprises International. Retrieved on June 5, 2007.
- ↑ Islamic Calendar: Origin of the Month Names. Retrieved on June 5, 2007.
- ↑ Shu`aib, Tajuddin. Ascertaining The Crescent of Ramadan (Hilal). Da`awah Enterprises International. Retrieved on June 3, 2007.
- ↑ Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 013, Number 2335
- ↑ Sahih Bukhari, Volume 003, Book 031, Number 137
- ↑ Jibaly, Mohammed. Establishing Ramadhan and Other Islamic Dates. Al-Qur'an and As-Sunnah Society of North America. Retrieved on June 3, 2007.
- ↑ Sahih Bukhari, Volume 003, Book 031, Number 130
- ↑ Sahih Bukhari, Volume 003, Book 031, Number 127
- ↑ Hartman, Holly. Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Retrieved on June 6, 2007.
- ↑ موسوعة الحديث الشريف - عرض الحديث. Musnad Ahmad. Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da‘wah and Guidance. Retrieved on June 3, 2007.
- ↑ Shu`aib, Tajuddin. What Constitutes Sahuur?. Da`awah Enterprises International. Retrieved on June 3, 2007.
- ↑ Ramadan Glossary: Iftar. Huda Newsletter. Retrieved on June 5, 2007.
- ↑ Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2420
- ↑ Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2417
- ↑ Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 013, Number 2349
- ↑ Taraweeh Prayers in Ramadan. Huda Newletter. Retrieved on June 6, 2007.
- ↑ Kutty, Ahmad. Number of Rak`ahs in Tarawih. IslamOnline.net. Retrieved on June 7, 2007.
- ↑ Sahih Bukhari, Volume 003, Book 033, Number 260
- ↑ Lailat al Qadr (27 Ramadan) - Night of Power. BBC. Retrieved on June 8, 2007.
- ↑ Sahih Bukhari, Volume 003, Book 032, Number 234
- ↑ Sahih Bukhari, Volume 003, Book 032, Number 231
- ↑ Hadith about Ramadan.