Dispersing the COVID-19 gloom with their spiritual preparations for Ramadan, Muslims across the world are eagerly waiting to sight the crescent moon to mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan 2020. Despite food bazaars wearing a deserted look this Ramadan and the obligatory five prayers in mosques being completely banned owing to the nationwide lockdown, the rozedaars are not to be deterred in spirit. Also Read - Gauahar Khan Trolled For Sharing Dance Video During Ramadan, Zaid Leaves a Protective Comment

While Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf countries and some nations in the West, will be sighting the moon tonight, India will likely sight it on Friday evening. Abstaining oneself from all the temptations, extreme emotions, addictions and other worldly desires to give one a sense of self-control and strong will-power is the aim behind observing the fasts during the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan. Not getting into false speech, insulting, cursing, lying and fighting is also observed so as to not negate the reward of fasting. Also Read - Ramazan 2021 Moon Sighting in Kerala Highlights: Crescent Moon Sighted, Kerala to Begin Fasting Ahead of Rest of India

Yet, many wonder where did it all start from and how did the Muslim community zero down on the 9th month of the Islamic calendar to mark as their holy month. Also Read - Ramazan 2021 Moon Sighting India Highlights: Crescent Moon Not Sighted, India To Begin Fasting From Wednesday

Religious story behind Ramadan

At the age of forty, Prophet Muhammad began spending some time in solitude in a cave within a mountain called al-Ḥirā in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. There, the Prophet would ponder on the questions that bothered him. One day while spending time in the cave at al-Hira, archangel Gabriel or Jibraeel visited the prophet. This was around 610 CE. The archangel took hold of Muhammad and commanded him to “read.” Terrified, Muhammad refused twice before actually asking what it was that he was supposed to read.

Gabriel replied, “Proclaim! in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who Created man, out of a clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,–Who taught by the pen –Taught man that which he knew not.” Gabriel then introduced itself and told Muhammad that he was the messenger of Allah. Thinking that he had been accosted by an evil spirit, Muhammad fled the cave and ran down the mountainside. As he did so, Gabriel appeared in its true form filling the entire sky above him. The sky had become green, which is incidentally where Islam gains its official colour.

A terrified Muhammad returned home, told his family of what had happened, sought the wisdom of a particularly devout Christian relative who then told him that he had been chosen as a prophet of God as prescribed in the books before him. What followed throughout that month was that Gabriel started visiting the prophet with further revelations. This went on for a month until the whole Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. This month came to be known as Ramadan. Muslims were first commanded to fast in the second year of Hijra 624 CE.

The Prophet Mohammed had reportedly said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.”

As per the belief, it is the time when Allah gave the first chapters of the Holy Quran to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE. According to Muslim beliefs, it was during Ramadan, precisely on the night of Laylat al-Qadr that the Quran was first revealed to mankind. The Night of Power or Laylat al-Qadr as it is called, was the night when the word of Allah is said to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad. The whole month is spent by Muslims in spiritual reflection and increased devotion and worship as the tablets of Ibrahim, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel and the Quran are believed to have been sent down on the 1st, 6th, 12th, 13th and 24th days of Ramadan. The last ten days of Ramadan are meant to commemorate the time that the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed on the night of ‘Laylat Al Qadr’.

Fasting in Ramadan, also known as ‘Roza’, is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam and is intended to help teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity. Except for children and those adults who are unwell, fasting during Ramadan is mandatory in Islam. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are also exempt from the exercise, and other women during menstruation. The general rules of Ramadan bar you from smoking during the period as well as sexual intercourse. Muslims begin fasting at dawn after consuming a decent quantity of food and usually fast until sunset, after which they are allowed to eat. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic Lunar Calendra.