|With the Name of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth
RAMADAN, THE MUSLIM MONTH OF FASTING
by Lester Allyson Knibbs, Ph.D.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, is the month of daily fasting from dawn until sunset for Muslims. This year (2011), Ramadan is expected to begin at sundown on July 31.
The Muslim calendar consists of twelve lunar months, with no adjustment to accommodate the solar year. The year 1432 of the Muslim calendar runs from December 7, 2010 to November 25, 2011 of the Christian calendar. The Muslim calendar begins the year of the Hijrah, the migration from Makkah (Mecca) to Madinah (Medina) of Prophet Muhammad and his followers; they were persecuted in Makkah for worshiping the Creator of the heavens and the earth instead of worshiping idols.
Ramadan will last 29 or 30 days, depending on the visibility of the new lunar crescent at the end of the month. The first day of the next month, Shawwaal, is a day of observance called "Eid-ul-Fitr". This day is expected to coincide with Tuesday, August 30, or Wednesday, August 31, 2011. Muslims observe this occasion by gathering for a special congregational prayer in the early morning, and spending the rest of the day (and perhaps the next two days, as well) socializing and feasting.
The reason we fast during the month of Ramadan is because this is the month in which the revelation of the Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad began, 14 centuries ago. Prophet Muhammad is acknowledged -- by Muslim and non-Muslim historians -- as the most influential single human being in recorded history. (The influence of Jesus Christ is shared with St. Paul, who spread Christianity to more people and did much to establish Christian doctrines; there is no "St. Paul" of the Muslims.) The global influence of Prophet Muhammad is a result of the Qur'an.
Fourteen centuries ago, most human beings lived in ignorance and slavery. Sixty percent of the people in the Roman Empire were outright slaves, and religious freedom and human rights were unknown even for so-called "free" people. More Christians were persecuted and killed for their faith under the Christian leaders of the Roman Empire than under the previous pagan leaders. Under the Muslim leaders, who freed the countries of Africa and the Middle East from Roman domination, Christians were free to worship according to their faith.
Because of the message of the Qur'an, we have a civilization today in which literacy is taken for granted (the first word of the revelation was the command, "Read!"), human rights and religious freedom are global concerns ("No compulsion in religion" says the Qur'an), and slavery has been abolished (the Qur'an says, "Free the slave"). You might want to read The Influence of Islam on Medieval Europe, by W. Montgomery Watt (Edinburgh University Press). Muslims have been far from perfect, but the message and legacy of the Qur'an is, literally, a Godsend.
O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may practice righteousness
The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong)
Qur'an, chapter 2, verses 183 and 185
Bible and Qur'an Home Page
Twelve Differences Between the Bible and the Qur'an
Scrutinizing the Qur'an
False Christ in the Age of European Domination
Mary Had a Baby
Mary and Her Baby in the Qur'an and in the Bible