Islam Ramadan Studio Arabiya Blog

What is Ramadan?

What is Ramadan?

What is Ramadan?
Let’s learn about the blessed month of Ramadan!

Ramadan is one of the most well-known aspects of Islam, even among non-Muslims. It is usually equated as “the month of fasting” during which Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and engaging in sexual intimacy with their spouses from dawn until sunset. But what do we know about Ramadan beyond these basic facts? As Muslims, do we live up to the beauty of this blessed month? Let’s take a closer look!


What is Ramadan?


Meaning of Ramadan

The word Ramaḍān (in Arabic: رَمَضَان) is derived from the Arabic word رَمِضَ [ramiḍa] or الرَّمَضُ [ar-ramaḍ], which refer to “scorching heat” or “intense heat.” Hijri months were named according to the seasons, war, or both. When the naming of the months took place, Ramadan was the month that fell in the intensely hot summer season and therefore carried this name.


Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down and fasting was later decreed. Fasting in Ramadan was established as an obligatory observance in the 2nd year after the Hijrah (migration of the Prophet ﷺ from Makkah to Madinah) along with the duty imposed upon Muslims on paying Zakat (alms tax, poor-due).


Chronological order in the Hijri calendar

Ramaḍān is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on the moon cycle. This month comes after Shaʿbān and before Shawwāl.

When Will Ramadan Take Place This Year?

This year (2024), Ramaḍān is expected to begin on March 10, 2024 and end on April 8, 2024 insha’Allah.


Mentions of Ramadan in The Quran

Ramadan is mentioned by name only once in the entire Quran (2:185) – and notice how this mention focuses on the Quran first and then on fasting – but the blessed month is referred to in a few other places:


Surah Al-Baqarah

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O You Who Believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may become righteous” (2:183)


أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.” (2:184)


شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (2:185)


Surah Al-Qadr

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ ‎
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ
لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ
سَلَامٌ هِيَ حَتَّىٰ مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ

“Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree. (1) And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? (2) The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. (3) The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. (4) Peace it is until the emergence of dawn. (5)” (97:1-5)


Additionally, Surah Al-Anfal (spoils of war) was revealed on the occasion of the Battle of Badr, Ramadan 17th, 2 AH. It constituted a unique Divine commentary on this battle.


What do Muslims do during Ramadan?

  • Fasting

Muslims all over the world fast from dawn until sunset, following the commandment of Allah SWT in the Quran. They abstain from food, water and sexual intimacy with their spouses during this period of time, everyday for a whole month (which lasts between 28 and 30 days).

In addition, fasting involves keeping the senses in check: no backbiting, abstaining from listening to or watching inappropriate materials, keeping emotions in control, etc.

The meal taken before sunrise is called “suhoor” and the meal taken after sunset to break the fast is called “iftaar”. The tradition of the Prophet (SAWS) was to break the fast with dates.

Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam that Allah SWT has made compulsory. All Muslims (physically and mentally well) start fasting from the age of puberty during Ramadan. The sick and traveling people, pregnant and nursing women may postpone fasting until a later time after Ramadan when they are able to make up for the missed days. Those who  are not able to make up (for instance, those with a chronic illness) are excused from fasting and feed a needy person for each missed day, if they can afford to do so.


  • Quran reading and night prayers

During Ramadan, Quran recitation and extra prayers are emphasized, especially during the night. A long congregational prayer, known as Taraweeh, is offered after Ishaa’ prayer, sometimes followed by extra Qiyaam prayers, especially in the last ten nights which have added blessings.

It is a custom to recite the entire Quran during this prayer, and attending the late night prayer at a mosque connects one to the Quran.


  • Extra acts of worship

Apart from Quran recitation and prayers, any extra act of worship is highly encouraged during the blessed month of Ramadan: giving charity, spending time volunteering, helping someone in need, being there for one’s family, or even simple things like smiling or holding a door for someone will all accrue additional rewards when done for the sake of Allah SWT.


  • Eid ul-Fitr

With the end of Ramadan comes a great celebration for Muslims, marked by the sighting of the new moon of the month of Shawwaal. This celebration is called Eid ul-Fitr, literally the Celebration of the Breaking of the Fast.

Families wake up early, wear their best outfits to join other Muslims for the Eid sermon and congregational prayer. Afterwards, they enjoy good food, exchange gifts and socialize.


Wondering how to make the most of the blessed month of Ramadan? Head over to our blog and read 10 Mistakes To Avoid During Ramadan – solutions included!


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This article was originally published in our Studio Arabiya Times magazine (Winter 2023-24). CLICK HERE to read the whole magazine!

Comments (2)

  1. Kainat

    .دا ډیر ښه دی له تاسو څخه ډیره مننه چې مسلمانانو ته د روژې په مبارکه میاشت کې د ښو شیانو ښوونه وکړئ

    1. Alhamdulillah! Thank you for your kind feedback, jazakum Allahu khayran. Ramadan Mubarak!

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