Dubai – Millions of Muslims around the world will observe Ramadan. And as the UAE welcomes this special time of year, Gulf News takes a look at the history, meaning and significance of this important event.
Ramadan is considered the holiest month of the Islamic calendar as it commemorates Allah sending the Archangel Jibril (Gabriel) to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to convey to him the first verses of the Quran.
Every Muslim who is past the age of puberty and mentally and physically fit and observes the month, must fast.
The fast starts from dawn and is indicated by the Al Fajr prayer (morning prayer). It ends at dusk and is marked by the Al Maghrib prayer (prayer at sunset). This daily fasting routine carries on every day for the entire month.
There are a few categories of people who do not have to fast.
People with psychological problems (mentally unstable), children under the age of puberty, the elderly, the sick, travellers and pregnant women or nursing mothers are all exempt.
Instead, they are required to feed at least one poor person a day or pay charity money that is equivalent to feeding one, for every fast they missed.
Women on their monthly period are also exempt but must start fasting again once this is over.
Although children are not obliged, many do observe the fast as an exercise.
Usually parents ease their children into the tradition by making them fast for half the day, or for as long as they can, until the child can get through the entire fasting day.
Fasting is crucial during Ramadan as it is one of the Five Pillars (duties) of Islam and was made obligatory in Ramadan in the second year of Al Hijra.
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