A Beginners Guide to Ramadan

10. The Night of Power

The Night of Power (Laylat-ul-Qadr in Arabic) is the night on which Allah sent down the Qur’an in its entirety to the lowest heaven and it is also the night when the first revelations were received by the Prophet (peace be upon him) from the angel Jibra’il (Gabriel, peace be upon him).

No-one knows the exact date, but many believe that it is the 27th night. Others believe it is one of odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan, others one of the even nights, some believe it can be any night of Ramadan and others believe it changes year to year.

On this night many mosques have extra programmes of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and prayer. It is believed that a good deed is rewarded at least 1,000 times more than usual on this night, as Allah states in the Qur’an that it is ‘…better than a thousand months.’ (Surah Al-Qadr 97:3). So it is important to make an effort to perform extra acts of worship on this night.

It is important also to remember that the Islamic day starts at sunset of the night before and not at midnight.

11. `Itikaf (seclusion in the mosque)

`Itikaf is performed by those who are able to, in the last ten days of Ramadan. It is not obligatory, but is recommended and was the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all). Many mosques will provide facilities for `Itikaf. This entails staying in the mosque for a minimum of one full day, with the intention of doing it to get closer to Allah. You may of course leave the mosque to go to the bathroom or for other urgent matters. Those in `Itikaf should be engaged in remembrance of Allah (Dhikr), doing extra Salah (prayer), reciting and studying the Qur’an, etc.

12. `Eid-ul-Fitr

`Eid-ul-Fitr is the festival on the first day of the month after Ramadan (known as Shawwal). It is not permissible to fast on this day. Early in the morning after sunrise, a prayer is performed in the mosques and it is recommended that everyone should attend, men and women (even menstruating women, if the mosque provides a place for them). Everyone should wear their best clean clothes (remaining within the Islamic clothing guidelines) and men should wear perfume. Before attending the prayer it is advised to have Ghusl (a ritual bath) and clean your teeth.

13. Zakat-ul-Fitr

This is an obligatory charitable payment, which must be paid before the `Eid prayer and is mainly used to feed the poor. Ask at your local mosque for details of how to pay it and how much it is. It varies every year, but it is only a small amount; roughly equivalent to the amount needed to feed a person a normal meal. It has to be paid on behalf of each member of the household, young and old. It should be paid by the man responsible for the household, but if there isn’t a Muslim man responsible for the household, the women have to pay their own Zakat–ul-Fitr.

14. Advice about food during Ramadan

It is very important to eat a healthy diet during Ramadan that can sustain you. Fasting can be very good for your health if done properly, but eating junk or poor quality food can make the fast harder and be bad for your health. The NHS have issued a booklet containing advice on what to eat and how to stay healthy during Ramadan. This can be found at the following website: http://tinyurl.com/ramadanhealthguide

15. Du`a (supplication) at the time of breaking the fast

The following Du`a is advised to be said just before breaking the fast:
اللّھُمَّ إنّي لكَ صُمْتُ وَبِكَ آمَنْتُ وَعَلَيكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ أفْطَرْتُ
(Allahumma inee laka Sumtu wa bika aamantu wa `alika tawakkaltu wa `alaa rizqika afTartu.)
“Oh Allah, indeed for You I have fasted and in You I have believed and upon You I have relied and with Your provision I have broken my fast”.



Adab – manners or etiquette.

Dhikr – Remembrance of Allah. This can be done in a number of ways, such as reciting the Qur’an, reflecting upon the meaning of the Qur’an and Allah’s Names, Attributes and creation, reading supplications and performing optional prayers

`Eid – Festival. There are only two main festivals in the Islamic calendar, the first at the end of Ramadan (which is called `Eid-ul-Fitr) and the second to celebrate the Hajj (which is called `Eid-ul-Adha).

Hadith – Report about the Prophet (peace be upon him), which could be a report about his actions or his words or his tacit approval of something. This is the main source used by scholars to understand the Prophet’s Sunnah (what he did) and it is the second source of knowledge about Islam after the Qur’an.

Imam – Literally: a leader; but commonly referring to someone who is appointed to lead the prayers in the mosque. It is also a term that can be used for anyone leading prayers or a respected scholar.

`Itikaf – seclusion in the mosque (see section 10)

Jibra’il – The angel Gabriel

Laylat-ul-Qadr – The Night of Power (see section 9)

Sahih al-Bukhari – The most reliable collection of Hadith according to the majority of Muslim scholars.

Sahih Muslim – The second most reliable collect of Hadith.

Sawm – Fasting

Tarawih – The prayers done in the mosque after the night prayer during Ramadan (see section 8)