The Story of Ramadan: A Journey Through Time

Once Upon a Time in the Desert…

Picture this: It’s the 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula. The sun is setting over the vast, sandy landscape, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink. In this serene setting, a man named Muhammad, later known as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), retreats to a cave for contemplation and reflection. Little did he know that this act of solitude would mark the beginning of a significant chapter in history.

A Night of Revelation:

One night, during the month we now know as Ramadan, something extraordinary happened. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad and revealed the first verses of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. This momentous event, known as Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power), is considered the most sacred night of the year.

Fasting: A Divine Commandment:

As the years passed, the practice of fasting during Ramadan was established as a pillar of Islam. Muslims believe that fasting is not just abstaining from food and drink but also a time for spiritual growth, self-discipline, and increased devotion.

Ramadan Through the Ages:

Fast forward through centuries, and you’ll see that Ramadan has been observed by countless generations of Muslims. It’s a time when communities come together, families share meals, and individuals strive to become better versions of themselves.

The Crescent Moon and Lanterns:

Have you ever noticed the crescent moon and lanterns associated with Ramadan? The sighting of the crescent moon marks the beginning of the month, and lanterns are traditionally used to light up the streets, symbolizing the illuminating guidance of the Quran.

A Month of Joy and Giving:

Ramadan is not just about fasting; it’s also a time of joy, generosity, and giving back to the community. The breaking of the fast, known as Iftar, is often a communal affair, and acts of charity are highly encouraged.

Eid al-Fitr: The Grand Finale:

The end of Ramadan is celebrated with Eid al-Fitr, a festival of breaking the fast. It’s a time of feasting, giving gifts, and expressing gratitude for the strength and patience shown during the month.

A Timeless Tradition:

Today, millions of Muslims around the world continue this age-old tradition, each Ramadan adding another chapter to the rich tapestry of Islamic history.

Islamic Months vs Gregorian Months

Why Ramadan is not the 10th Month Like October:

  1. Lunar vs. Solar Calendar: The Islamic calendar is lunar, meaning it’s based on the phases of the moon, while the Gregorian calendar is solar, based on the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. A lunar year is approximately 11 days shorter than a solar year.
  2. Months in the Islamic Calendar: The Islamic year has 12 months, just like the Gregorian calendar, but because it’s based on the lunar cycle, the months shift each year in relation to the Gregorian calendar. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, not the 10th.
  3. The Hijri Calendar: The Islamic calendar was established during the time of the second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, in 638 CE. It starts from the year of the Hijra, the migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, which is considered year 1 AH (After Hijra).

Keeping Up with the Islamic Calendar:

  1. Moon Sighting: Traditionally, the start of each month in the Islamic calendar is determined by the physical sighting of the new moon. This practice can lead to variations in the start of Ramadan between different communities.
  2. Astronomical Calculations: Nowadays, many Muslim communities also use astronomical calculations to determine the beginning of the month, especially for planning purposes.
  3. Annual Shift: Because the Islamic year is shorter than the Gregorian year, the month of Ramadan shifts approximately 11 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar. Over a 33-year cycle, Ramadan will have occurred at every season.

Why It Matters:

The lunar basis of the Islamic calendar is not just a matter of tradition. It has spiritual significance, as it keeps the rituals and observances, like fasting during Ramadan, in tune with the natural cycles of the moon, which are mentioned in the Quran as a means for marking time.

Understanding the Islamic calendar helps appreciate the rhythm and flow of the Islamic year and the significance of Ramadan as a time of reflection, worship, and community.


31-Day Countdown to Ramadan

Day -31: Set Intentions

Reflect on your goals for Ramadan. What do you want to achieve spiritually, physically, and emotionally?

Day -30: Create a Ramadan Plan

Outline your daily schedule, including prayer times, meal planning, and time for Quran reading.

Day -29: Declutter Your Space

Clean and organize your home, especially the areas where you will pray and eat, to create a peaceful environment.

Day -28: Start Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule

Gradually adjust your sleep schedule to accommodate early morning prayers (Fajr) and night prayers (Taraweeh).

Day -27: Plan Your Meals

Plan your Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and Iftar (meal to break the fast) menus to ensure they are nutritious and balanced.

Day -26: Begin a Pre-Ramadan Fast

Start fasting for a few days before Ramadan to prepare your body for the month-long fast.

Day -25: Increase Your Water Intake

Start increasing your water intake to ensure you are well-hydrated before the fasting begins.

Day -24: Make a Charity Plan

Decide on the charities or causes you want to support during Ramadan and allocate funds accordingly.

Day -23: Schedule Quran Reading

Plan a daily Quran reading schedule to complete the entire Quran during Ramadan.

Day -22: Revisit Past Ramadan Goals

Reflect on your previous Ramadan experiences and identify areas for improvement.

Day -21: Stock Up on Essentials

Purchase all necessary groceries and household items to avoid frequent trips to the store during Ramadan.

Day -20: Connect with Community

Reach out to your local mosque or Islamic center to learn about Ramadan events and programs.

Day -19: Plan Your Fitness Routine

Develop a light exercise routine that you can maintain during Ramadan to stay active.

Day -18: Prepare Your Prayer Area

Set up a dedicated prayer area in your home with prayer mats, a Quran stand, and other essentials.

Day -17: Set Up a Zakat Fund

Calculate and set aside your Zakat for the year.

Day -16: Begin Reading Islamic Literature

Start reading Islamic books or articles to increase your knowledge and spiritual awareness.

Day -15: Practice Mindfulness

Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine to enhance focus and spirituality.

Day -14: Plan Iftar Gatherings

Organize a schedule for hosting or attending Iftar gatherings with family and friends.

Day -13: Create a Duo List

Make a list of personal supplications (Duas) you want to focus on during Ramadan.

Day -12: Start Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule

Refresh your knowledge of the rules and etiquettes of fasting in Islam.

Day -11: Prepare Night Prayers

Plan your schedule to accommodate additional night prayers (Taraweeh) during Ramadan.

Day -10: Cook & Freeze Meals

Prepare and freeze some meals in advance to save time during Ramadan.

Day -9: Set Digital Boundaries

Limit your use of electronic devices and social media to minimize distractions.

Day -8: Decorate for Ramadan

Decorate your home with Ramadan-themed decorations to create a festive atmosphere.

Day -7: Reconnect with Family and Friends

Reach out to loved ones to strengthen bonds and share Ramadan greetings.

Day -6: Finalize Your Ramadan Schedule

Review and finalize your daily Ramadan schedule, including work, worship, and family time.

Day -5: Practice Gratitude

Start a gratitude journal to reflect on the blessings in your life.

Day -4: Make a Sadaqah Plan

Plan how you will give voluntary charity (Sadaqah) during Ramadan.

Day -3: Seek Forgiveness

Take time to seek forgiveness from God and from anyone you may have wronged.

Day -2: Prepare for Eid

Plan your Eid al-Fitr celebrations and outfits in advance.

Day -1: Make Final Preparations

Ensure everything is in place for the start of Ramadan, and spend the day in reflection and prayer.

Remember, the key to a successful Ramadan is balance, so make sure to adjust your plans according to your physical and emotional needs. May your Ramadan be blessed and transformative!

Taraweeh – The Extra Nightly Prayer

Taraweeh is performed after the Isha (night) prayer during the month of Ramadan. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand how it’s performed and its duration:

  1. Timing: Taraweeh is prayed after the Isha prayer, which is the last of the five daily prayers. It is specific to the nights of Ramadan, starting from the first night and continuing until the last night of the month.
  2. Structure: The 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh are typically divided into sets of two rak’ahs each. After every two rak’ahs, a short break or pause is taken. This is where the name “Taraweeh” (resting) comes from. In each rak’ah, a portion of the Quran is recited. The structure is similar to other prayers, with standing, bowing, and prostrating, but it’s longer due to the extended recitation of the Quran.
  3. Duration: The length of Taraweeh can vary depending on the pace of recitation and the length of the verses being recited. On average, it might take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to complete 20 rak’ahs. Some mosques may take longer if they recite a larger portion of the Quran in each rak’ah, while others may be quicker.
  4. Performance: It is common for the prayer to be performed in congregation at a mosque, led by an imam who is proficient in reciting the Quran. However, it can also be performed individually at home. In a mosque setting, the imam will lead the prayer, and the congregation will follow his movements and recitations.
  5. Flexibility: While the tradition is to perform 20 rak’ahs, there is flexibility in the number. Some people perform 8 rak’ahs based on different traditions and interpretations. The key is to participate in the prayer to the best of one’s ability and time constraints.
  6. Breaks: Between sets of rak’ahs, there are short breaks for rest and reflection. In some mosques, these breaks might include a brief talk or reminder about the significance of Ramadan and the virtues of prayer.