Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic Hijri Calendar and is a month of fasting, repentance, and good deeds. Fasting in Ramadan upholds Sawm, one of the Pillars of Islam, which means ‘to fast’.
In this month, fasting is compulsory for every sane, non-disabled Muslim adult. Those who are excused from fasting are children who have not yet reached puberty, women who are menstruating, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, the frail and elderly, the ill, those on medication and those who are unable to fast due to health or other valid reasons.
Ramadan was the month in which Angel Jibrael revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who was reflecting in the Cave of Hira. The first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq were revealed, which hold great importance to Muslims. The translation of these verses is, ‘Recite in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is the most generous. Who taught by the pen. Taught man that which he knew not.’
There are a number of hadiths mentioning Ramadan which show its significance, such as, “When Ramadan enters, the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hellfire are closed and the devils are chained.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
One spiritual benefit of fasting during Ramadan is that it increases a person’s Taqwa. This refers to awareness of Allah (SWT), and this is important to ensure one takes care in their endeavours in order to please Allah (SWT).
Fasting during Ramadan is also a way of investing in our Akhira (afterlife). Fasting holds great rewards, especially when done so with pure intentions. There are eight gates to Jannah, one of which is Ar-Rayyan, which will only be entered by those who fasted in this life for the sake of Allah (SWT).
There are several health benefits of fasting during Ramadan. Fasting improves the digestive system and flushes out toxins from the body. Therefore, while fasting spiritually cleanses the soul, fasting also physically cleanses the body from toxins. Fasting also reduces stress, prevents life-long illnesses like cancer, improves mood and increases alertness, as well as having many other benefits.
Ramadan 2023 is expected to begin on Wednesday 22 March, and end on Saturday 22 April. These dates may slightly change depending on the sighting of the moon.
During Ramadan, make the most of this month by increasing forms of worship while reducing sins. This month holds a lot of rewards as well as the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting. Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Every action a son of Adam does shall be multiplied—a good action by ten times its value, up to 700 times. Allah says: With the exception of fasting, which belongs to Me, and I reward it accordingly... (Al-Bukhari)
In addition to increasing worship during Ramadan, one should also give more generously to charity. Donate to Muslim Aid here.