As the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, each day Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset.
This month is a time to seek the forgiveness and mercy of God. It is not just an opportunity to reap great spiritual rewards, but also a reminder to nurture connections with our communities and to reach out to people that need help.
This Ramadan, Muslims will focus on:
Improving their character
Practising restraint and self-discipline improves character and mental strength. As well as taking particular care to avoid actions that may invalidate their fast, Muslims also try to cultivate purity of thought and deed at all levels. For example, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, ‘Whoever fails to leave off ruinous speech, and acting on it [during Ramadan], Allah does not need him to leave off eating and drinking.’ (Hadith Bukhari).
Following the sunnah
The Prophet (pbuh), embodied the spirit of the Qur’an. Muslims try to follow his example – or sunnah – in drawing closer to God. In Ramadan, these include eating suhur, a pre-dawn meal – even if it is just water – and breaking the fast on time. Muslims usually break their fast with dates, choosing an odd number as the Prophet (pbuh) did, or water.
In Ramadan, the priority is to increase acts of worship. These include reading Qur’an, praying the Ramadan tarawih prayers each night, and spending time in itikaf (spiritual retreat) in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan.
As Muslims work on improving their relationship with God, we are also encouraged to strengthen our relationships with family, friends and neighbours. There are lots of ways to do this – including sharing food, volunteering in the community and giving charity. Nurturing relationships with people of all faiths and none is particularly important in today’s society.
The Prophet (pbuh) showed that sharing food is particularly important when he said, “He who breaks another’s fast earns the same reward as the one who fasted without diminishing the latter’s reward in the slightest.’ (Hadith Tirmidhi)
Muslims are also keen to share food with Muslim and non-Muslim neighbours and friends as the Prophet (pbuh) advised: ‘He does not truly believe who eats his fill while his neighbour remains hungry by his side.’ (Hadith Bayhaqi).
In many Muslim countries there is a tradition of organising free food kitchens for poor people during Ramadan. In the West, many Muslims volunteer or donate to local charities or food banks, or projects such as Islamic Relief’s Ramadan food pack programme. Last year, our Ramadan food pack programme reached over a million people across the globe.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) discouraged waste – especially of food and water – as God says in the Qur’an: “Eat and drink and don’t be wasteful. Verily Allah dislikes those who waste.” (Qur’an 7:31) Ramadan is a good opportunity to re-evaluate and cut down on consumption and waste.
The Prophet (pbuh) was the most generous of people, and he was even more generous in Ramadan. Many Muslims try to do their annual Zakat, charitable giving, in Ramadan each year. It is important to pay the Zakat al Fitr before the Eid prayer. People are motivated to do more this month, since spiritual rewards for both worship and charity are multiplied at this time.
Our annual Ramadan campaign enables people to share the joys and blessings of the holy month with families across the globe. The donations we received last year alone allowed us to distribute over 200,000 food packs to 1.5 million people in 30 countries.
We aim to reach even more people this year so help us by donating today.