For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is the holiest time of the year as it is believed that it was during this time the Angel Gabriel first revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As such, it is an exceptionally sacred month and one that all Muslims must observe.
There are strict rules of Ramadan that followers of Islam must abide by. If you’re new to the Muslim community, do not have the guidance of a local Imam, or if you’re simply curious about what is expected of Muslims during Ramadan, we are going to explain the rules of Ramadan below.
To understand the rules of Ramadan, it is important to first understand what Ramadan is. As mentioned above, it is believed that Ramadan is the time of the year the Angel Gabriel first revealed the Qur’an and the words of Allah (SWT) to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In the years that followed, the revelations about Ramadan were revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) by way of the fourth pillar of Islam which is known as Sawm. The five pillars of Islam are the core values every Muslim must abide by, and as such, every Muslim should observe Sawm. Translated in English, Sawm means to fast, and this is done during the holy month of Ramadan.
The first rule of Ramadan is when it is observed. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle which means the dates of Ramadan fluctuate by around 10 days in the Gregorian calendar every year. Despite the fluctuation of the dates, Muslims always commence Ramadan from the sighting of the ninth new moon until the sighting of the tenth new moon of the lunar year.
Initially, Ramadan fell during a hot month but depending on where Muslims live in the world, it’s possible that it will fall during winter.
As mentioned, Ramadan is observed in order to fulfil the fourth pillar of Islam, Sawm. This means it is not permissible for Muslims to eat or drink during daylight hours throughout the holy month. Whilst this is arguably the biggest part of Ramadan, there are a number of other things that should be abstained from during this time, including:
As with eating and drinking, these activities are not permissible during sunlight hours. By abstaining from impure activities and thoughts, Muslims are able to cleanse their mind and soul. By refraining from eating, they have considerably more time to work on being empathetic towards those who are less fortunate, as well as to recite to Qur’an and strengthen their bond with Allah (SWT).
Whilst Ramadan is a core part of Islam, not everyone will be able to take part. As a result, there is a list of people who are exempt from the physical act of fasting. They are as follows:
In addition to the above categories, if a woman starts to menstruate during the month of Ramadan, she must halt her fast and is considered as a person who is validly exempt from fasting.
If you fit into one of the groups listed above, you are liable to pay Fidya. It is preferred that those who cannot fast during the month of Ramadan or who miss a day and/or days make up their fast at a later stage in the year. If it is not possible for a person to make up the fast during the year, they may pay their Fidya in the form of a charitable donation.
The rate of Fidya changes year on year depending on the price of basic staple foods, but it is typically around £5 per day a fast is missed. The price of Fidya covers the cost of feeding one hungry person for one full day, and it should be paid in advance of the missed fast or at any other stage of Ramadan.
If you do not fit into one of the above categories and you intentionally break your fast, the Ramadan rules dictate that you must pay Kaffarah. The rate of Kaffarah is the value of feeding 60 people for each day missed. If the rate of Fidya is £5, a Muslim who intentionally misses a day of sawm without good reason is expected to pay £300, or fast for 60 consecutive. If you break your fast again during these 60 days, you must restart your Kaffarah from day one.
Whether you are liable to pay Fidya or Kaffarah, you are forbidden to make up your missed days of fasting during Eid. You may make up the days at any point of the year, except at Eid.
Once the new moon has been seen marking the 10th month of the Islamic year, the month of Ramadan draws to a close. In order to end the month of Ramadan, compulsory Zakat al-Fitr donations are made. When they have been made, the Eid al-Fitr prayers are said and the Eid celebrations begin.
If you are querying what are the rules of Ramadan, please contact us and we will gladly offer guidance and advice.