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Ramadan 2024: Check out this guide with protocols and key rules of fasting for Muslims in holy month of Islamic calendar

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Mar 10, 2024 02:19 PM IST

Ramadan 2024: Know all about the obligatory rules, traditions and exemptions of fasting or roza for Muslims ahead of the largest Islamic festival this Ramzan

“The light is coming” or so Muslims across the world are heard saying as Ramadan, the holy month of healing and forgiveness and the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, approaches to commemorate the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with fasting, prayers, reflection, charity and communal harmony. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, with adherence to specific rules and guidelines outlined in the holy Quran and Hadith, during the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan (also spelled as Ramazan or Ramzan or Ramzaan), depending on the crescent moon sighting.

Ramadan 2024: Check out this guide with protocols and key rules of fasting for Muslims in holy month of Islamic calendar (Photo by quranreading.com)

The holy month of Ramadan occurs approximately 10-11 days earlier every year depending on when the moon is sighted since lunar months are shorter than solar months and so it varies from country to country by about a day. The whole month is spent by Muslims in spiritual reflection, increased devotion and worship but there are certain obligatory rules and traditions guiding the roza or fasts during these 29 or 30 days on Ramadan.

Tradition of fasting by Muslims:

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The annual observance of keeping fasts throughout Ramadan is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam with fasting being the fourth pillar. A fast is called a ‘roza’ which is governed by the idea of practicing self-restraint.

A typical day of a rozedaar or a Muslim observing a roza should start with sehri or suhoor which consists of a lavish meal before dawn. The daily fasting in Ramadan begins with a sincere intention or niyyah before dawn (Suhoor) to fast for the sake of Allah throughout the day.

The aim for Muslims is to observe a roza or fast with the intention of seeking Allah's pleasure, spiritual purification and self-discipline as it is not merely abstaining from food and drink but also abstaining from sinful behaviour such as lying, backbiting, gossiping and engaging in arguments or conflicts and negative thoughts. The rising of the sun marks the beginning of the fast which is then broken with an iftari or feast after the sunset and the evening prayer where breaking a fast with iftari delicacies can put a smile on the hungriest of people.

Rules of fasting for Muslims:

  1. Apart from offering the daily five daily prayers at the time of Fajr (dawn), Dhuhr (noon), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (evening) and Isha (night), the rozedaars should not eat or drink anything intentionally in a state of fast and abstain from smoking or else the fast will become invalid.
  2. Consumption of any food item due to absent-mindedness or by mistake will not have any negative effect on one’s fast nor make it invalid hence, a person can immediately repent and continue with their fast after realising they have consumed something due to forgetfulness.
  3. Refraining from false speech, insulting, cursing, lying and fighting is a must for Muslims all though their lives but observed more strictly during Ramadan so as to not negate the reward of fasting.
  4. Those chronically ill, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, old and sick with health restrictions are exempted from observing a fast during Ramadan. However, they should compensate for it by performing Fidiya which is done by feeding a poor person on every day of Ramadan or every day of missing one’s fast.
  5. A woman during her menstrual cycle or post-childbirth bleeding is not obliged to observe fast but the missed fasts need to be compensated later.
  6. Giving alms to the needy is called Zakat which is an obligatory charity in Islam. This is another compulsion during the holy month of Ramadan and the amount to be given out in Zakat is a fixed percentage of one’s savings that is required to be given to the poor which is different from Sadaqah or voluntary charity that is the amount Muslims donate above and beyond what is required from the obligation of Zakat.
  7. A very important rule for Muslims observing the Ramadan fast is that physical intimacy like indulging in sex is not allowed during the sacred month as rozedaars are required to channel their spirituality while seeking forgiveness through letting go of the worldly pleasures during these 29 or 30 days when they observe fast with their family and friends.

Ramadan is an opportune time for seeking forgiveness for past sins and repenting sincerely hence, Muslims engage in increased devotion, reflection and heartfelt prayers and supplications to seek Allah's mercy and guidance while also performing additional night prayers called Taraweeh, which are performed after the Isha prayer. They also dedicate time to reciting and pondering over the Quran and since Ramadan emphasises generosity, empathy and compassion towards others, especially the less fortunate, Muslims are encouraged to give Zakat i.e. the obligatory charity and engage in voluntary acts of charity or Sadaqah throughout the month.

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