The Meaning & Practice of Ramadan

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By Atiqah Nurul Asri

Ramadhan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Islam has its own calendar which is a lunar calendar. Different with the solar calendar which begins with January, the Islamic calendar begins with Muharram. Since it is a lunar calendar, a year is shorter by 10-11 days than the solar calendar. That is why, the date of 1st of Ramadhan is different from year to year, unlike Christmas that is celebrated on 25th of December.

Ramadhan is a special month for Islam. It is the holiest month of the year when Muslims all over the world must do “fasting”. Fasting basically is a way to teach Muslims to hold the desire to eat and to control emotion. Sometimes people tend to eat obsessively and to get angry over things easily.

Besides, by doing fasting, Muslims will also feel the hunger the needy feel, so they will have empathy to others and help them. It is symbolized by the end of the month, Muslim must give “zakat” to the needy. Zakat can be in form of rice or sum of money.

Fasting is done from dawn til dusk. Before fasting, Muslims usually eat first. It is called “sahur”. Sahur must be done before Subuh or dawn. Subuh is the first required prayer or “shalat” of the day. (Islam requires Muslims to pray five times a day in five different time, namely Subuh, Dzuhur, Ashar, Maghrib, and Isya. There is no special meaning of each shalat. It is the way how Muslim “stay connected” to Allah, the God).

In Indonesia, Subuh is about 4.30 a.m. So, we have to wake up before subuh to do sahur. We then do fasting until shalat Magrib time, it is about 5.30 p.m or at dusk. The fasting break is called “buka”. After that, we can eat and drink until sahur. At night, after sholat Isya , we do sholat “tarawih” and recite the holy Qur’an ( it is like bible, for Christians).

What about children? Children are not required to do fasting until they are grown up. Yet, they are trained to do fasting in their early age. I was once trained to do fasting when I was at 5-6 years old. I did it not until sholat Maghrib time, but only until sholat Dzuhur time. Gradually as the years went by, I could do fasting for a whole day when I was 9 years old.

I hope by now, you all get the idea of what is Ramadan.

About Christopher Chase

Co-creator and Admin of the Facebook pages "Tao & Zen" "Art of Learning" & "Creative Systems Thinking." Majored in Studio Art at SUNY, Oneonta. Graduated in 1993 from the Child & Adolescent Development program at Stanford University's School of Education. Since 1994, have been teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, in Fukuoka, Japan.
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