Muslims around the world will spend their Ramadan, not only fasting from dawn to dusk for a month, but many will also spend it reciting the Quran daily.
Majority of Muslims will attend nightly prayers called the Taraweeh, which are held at mosques. It is also possible to perform the Taraweeh prayers at home. Each night a section of the Quran (a juz: 1/30 of the Quran) will be recited during the Taraweeh prayers. By the end of the month, the entire Quran would have been recited. This prayer is performed after the last compulsory daily prayer of Isha'a.
It is not compulsory to attend the Taraweeh prayers, or to finish reciting all of the Quran during Ramadan. But there are multitude of benefits to be derived from it.
Benefits of Reading Quran
Reading Quran during Ramadan is one of the best and most virtuous of good deeds, because Ramadan is the month of the Quran. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)” [al-Baqarah 2:185]
Jibreel used to come to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) every night in Ramadan, and study the Quran with him. Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5; Muslim, 4268.
Al-Bukhari (4614) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Jibreel used to review the Quran with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once each year, and in the year in which he died, he reviewed it with him twice. From this it may be understood that it is mustahab to read Quran a great deal and to study it during Ramadan.
In another hadith, A’ishah relates that the Prophet said: Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have TWICE that reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
If you require help in interpreting the Arabic in the Quran, we came across links that we recommend.
Recommended Audio Quran (with English translation):
This is an often asked question by non-Muslims. Non-Muslims find it strange that Muslims fast for 30 days from dusk to dawn. Fasting means to abstain from food or from certain kinds of food voluntarily, as an observance of a holy day or as a token of grief, sorrow, or repentance. Many non-Muslims even claim that it is detrimental to one's health in practice fasting.
However, fasting is not a religious tradition invented by Muslims, nor is it a practice conducted solely by Muslims. Fasting has been a religious tradition in the prophetic traditions of Judaism and Christianity too. Fasting is supposed to bring one closer to God.
Fasting Prescribed in Other Religions Excerpted by Dr. Bilal Philips
Hindu: Fasting in Sanskrit is called upavaasa. Devout Hindus observe fasting on special occasions as a mark of respect to their personal gods or as a part of their penance. Most devout Indians fast regularly or on special occasions like festivals. On such days they do not eat at all, eat once or make do with fruits or a special diet of simple food.
Jewish Jewish: Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement") is the last of the Ten Days of Repentance observed on the 10th of Tishri. On that day, it is forbidden to eat, drink, wash, wear leather, or have sexual relations. In addition, prohibitions on labor similar to those on the Sabbath are in force. It should also be noted that Moses (peace be upon him) is recorded in the Torah to have fasted: "And he was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights, he neither ate bread not drank water." (Exodus 34:28)
For Catholics Christians, Lent is the major season of fasting, imitative of the forty-day fast of Jesus (peace be upon him). In the fourth century it was observed as six weeks of fasting before Easter or before Holy Week. It was adjusted to forty days of actual fasting in most places in the seventh century. Jesus (peace be upon him) is recorded in the Gospels to have fasted like Moses. "And he fasted 40 days and 40 nights, and afterward he was hungry." (Matthew 4:2 & Luke 4:2)
Quranic Verses on Ramadan
O you who believe! Observing the fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become the pious (God-conscious). (Qur’an al-Baqarah 2:183)
In the month of Ramadan the Qur'an was revealed, a book of guidance with proofs of guidance distinguishing right from wrong. Therefore whoever of you is present in that month let him fast. But who is ill or on a journey shall fast a similar number of days later on. Allah desires your well-being, not your discomfort. He desires you to fast the whole month so that you may magnify Him and render thanks to Him for giving you His guidance. (Qur’an al-Baqarah 2:185)
As can be seen from the Quranic verses above, fasting is supposed to bring one closer to God. Fasting makes us aware of God.
Dr. Bilal Philips writes about the different levels of fasting. For fasting to be effective one should attain of the levels. Fasting is not simply abstaining from food and drink from dusk to dawn, and he explains why below.
The Levels of Fasting
There are as many levels of fasting as there are facets to being human. Proper fasting should encompass all dimensions of human existence for it to have the divinely intended effect.
The following are some of the major levels of fasting:
This level of fasting requires that the basic rules for fasting be fulfilled, which are avoiding food, drink and sexual intercourse between dawn and sunset for 29 or 30 days each year. On this level, one is basically following the letter of the laws regarding fasting without particular consideration for the spirit of fasting. It is the entrance level which must be fulfilled for the fast to be Islamically correct, but the other levels must be added for the fast to have any real impact on the fasting person. Fasting on this level alone will not benefit one spiritually, except from the perspective of submission to divine instructions, if one chooses to follow the ritual consciously and not merely according to tradition. Thus, by itself, the ritual level will not purify one of sin or atone for sin.
The Physical Level:
Fasting on the "physical" level causes the fasting person to experience the pangs of hunger and thirst – when the prophetic (Sunnah) way of fasting is observed. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to consume a very light meal before the dawn (suhur) and moderate meal (iftar) to break the fast at sunset, while scrupulously avoiding filling his stomach.
He is reported to have said, "The worst container a human being can fill is his stomach. A few morsels of food to keep a person's back straight are sufficient. However, if his desire overcomes him, then let him eat a third, drink a third and leave a third for breathing."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to break his fast with a few fresh or dried dates and a glass of water just before beginning the sunset prayer.
This level allows the fasting person to experience the pangs of hunger and thirst and thereby develops sympathy in him or her for those starving and dying of thirst in other parts of the world.
On the physical level, some chemicals in the brain that transmit messages and create feelings, called neurotransmitters, are affected by fasting. Fasting encourages the endorphin neurotransmitter system, related to the feeling of well being – and euphoria, to produce more endorphins and, in fact, makes us ‘feel' better. This is similar to the effect of exercise (but without the physical work).
It has also been noted by medical experts that fasting improves the physical health in numerous ways. For example, during the fast the body uses up stored cholesterol (fat) that is often deposited in the blood system, as well as in other fatty areas of the body. So, we find it does help keep the body firm and minimizes the danger of heart attacks.
The difference between the ritual level 1 and the physical level 2 is, a person doing only ritual fasting may eat large meals prior to beginning the fast and immediately upon ending the fast, and not feel any hunger or thirst throughout the whole month.
However, like level one, if the fasting person does not incorporate the other levels of fasting, the fast will only be physically exhausting.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Maybe a fasting person will gain nothing but hunger and thirst from fasting."
The Libidinal Level:
The sexual instinct and drives (libido) are harnessed on this level of fasting.
In these times where the media continually plays on sexual desires to promote and sell products, the ability to control these powerful desires is a plus.
Fasting physically reduces sexual desires and the fact that the fasting person has to avoid anything which could stimulate him psychologically helps to further lower the libido.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "O youths, whoever among you is able to marry let him do so, for it restrains the eyes and protects the private parts. He who is unable to marry should fast, because it is a shield."
By restraining from sexual acts, even though they are permissible, the fasting people make it easier for themselves to restrain from forbidden sexual acts when they are not fasting.
The Emotional Level:
Fasting on this level involves controlling the many negative emotions which simmer in the human mind and soul. For example, among the most destructive emotions is anger. Fasting helps to bring this emotion under control.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "When one of you is fasting, he should abstain from indecent acts and unnecessary talk, and if someone begins an obscene conversation or tries to pick an argument, he should simply tell him, "I am fasting."
So, on this level, whatever negative emotions challenge the fasting person must be avoided.
A person has to abstain from lewd conversation and heated arguments. Even when one is in the right, it is better to let that right go and keep one's emotional fast intact.
Likewise, the negative emotion of jealousy is reduced, as every fasting person is reduced to the common denominator of abstinence; no one is externally superior to another in this regard.
The Psychological Level:
This level helps the fasting person psychologically to control evil thoughts and trains him or her, to some degree, how to overcome stinginess and greed.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Allah has no need for the hunger and the thirst of the person who does not restrain himself from telling lies and acting on them even while observing the fast." 
In this age of immediate gratification, when the things of the world are used to fulfill human needs and desires almost as soon as they have them – the ability to delay gratification is an important skill.
What is between immediate gratification and delayed gratification is patience. During the fast, the believers learn patience – and the benefits of it.
From a psychological perspective, it is good to be somewhat detached from the things of the world.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good and full life – in fact, one can and should expect that.
However, it is important that people are able to detach ourselves from material things so that they do not become the most important part of their lives.
Fasting gives one the opportunity to overcome the many addictions which have become a major part of modern life.
Food, for many people, provides comfort and joy - and the ability to separate oneself from it gives the fasting people the psychological benefit of knowing that they do have some degree of control over what they do and what they do not do.
The Spiritual Level:
In order to establish this, the highest and most important level of fasting, the level of God-consciousness, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made the renewal of the intention for fasting a requirement before every day of fasting.
He was reported to have said, "Whoever does not intend to fast before Fajr (the dawn) will have no fast.
The daily renewal of intention helps to establish a spiritual foundation of sincerity essential for the spiritual cleansing effects of fasting to operate.
Sincere fasting purifies and atones for sin, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever fasts Ramadan out of sincere faith and seeking his reward from God, his previous sins will be forgiven."
He was also reported to have said, "From one Ramadan to the next is atonement for the sins between them."
Sincere fasting brings one closer to Allah and earns a special reward.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) informed that there is a gate in paradise called Rayyan reserved for those who fast and he also said, "When Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are open."
Fasting is primarily between the person and God, as no one can be sure that any person is actually fasting.
Because of this intimate aspect of fasting, Allah was quoted by the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying, "Every act of Adam's descendants is for themselves, except fasting. It is meant for Me alone, and I alone will give the reward for it."
When combined with the previous levels of fasting, this level transforms a person from within.
It restores, revives and regenerates the fasting person's spirituality and radically modifies his or her personality and character.
These are the precious products of a heightened state of God-consciousness.
We read this recent news article (see below) with a tinge of sadness. It is well known that businesses prepare for Ramadan consumerism. There is nothing wrong with that per say - people do have to earn a living. Businesses all offer discounts for needed products, such as home essentials, furniture, clothes and food. Consumers do have an incentive in taking advantage of these discounts. So taken in that light, we suppose there is nothing wrong with the ConsumerFest planned in Dubai. We have heard of several such festivals planned in other countries such as Malaysia as well.
Ramadan Timely Reminder:
We do hope that Muslims do not spend all of their Ramadan days attending and indulging in such consumer festivals; that would defeat the purpose of doing Ramadan in the first place. Reserve the majority of your Ramadan for night prayers and spiritual introspection so that you reap the benefits from your fast. Conserve your energy so that you can spend your nights reading the Quran and doing dhikr (remembering God).
Recall this Hadith:
Narrated Abu Hurairah Radiyallahu Anh: Allah's Messenger PBUH said, "As-Siyam (the fasting) is Junnah (protection or shield or a screen or a shelter from the Hell-fire*). So, the person observing Saum (fast) should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should say to him twice, 'I am fasting.' "The Prophet PBUH added, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better with Allah -ta-Aala than the smell of musk. (Allah says about the fasting person), 'He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The Saum (fast) is for Me.** So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No.118, Vol.3)
Dubai to host massive consumerfest during Ramadan 2010
July 16, 2010 (MMD Newswire) -- Hundreds of exhibitors, trade visitors from all sectors and shoppers are gearing up for the Ramadan Fair at Expo Centre Sharjah, boosting hotel bookings in Dubai
The Ramadan Fair, a massive, shopaholics dream of a consumer oriented show, takes place from 18 August to11 September at Dubai's Expo Centre Sharaj. Coinciding with the religious festivals of Ramadan and Eid, opening times are 21:00 to 01:00 in Ramadan and 17:00 to 23:00 during Eid. Entrance to the show and parking are free.
This spectacular upscale event will present everything from the latest designer fashions through precious and costume jewellery, homewares, interior decoration products and services, cosmetics and perfume from famous houses, to health products and sports equipment. Family entertainment and dining after dusk complete the picture, making the Ramadan Fair one of the best events of this type.
High visitor numbers from both the trade and general public sectors are guaranteed, with many coming from outside the country. According to DirectRooms.com, the influx of visitors and exhibitors before and during the fair is likely to cause shortages of suitable rooms in hotels in Dubai. Booking in advance at is recommended.
Dubaiis a significant visitor destination, and has many wealthy residents, ensuring the success of this mammoth event. DirectRooms.com's marketing director, Lek Boonlert, comments, "The combination of a luxury shopping opportunity and high end hotel facilities will create a high demand for rooms, making booking in advance essential at this time."
Every ninth month of the Islamic calendar (lunar calendar), Muslims around the world fast (no food and water) from dawn to dusk for one month. Each day, Muslims will break their fast at sundown with special prayers at mosques. This practice serves to remind them to empathize with those less fortunate than themselves.
The Islamic months in the Islamic calendar are named as follows:
Muharram محرّم (or Muharram al Ḥaram) Safar صفر (or Ṣafar al Muzaffar) Rabi' al-awwal (Rabī' I) ربيع الأول Rabi' al-thani (or Rabī' al Thānī, or Rabī' al-Akhir) (Rabī' II) ربيع الآخر أو ربيع الثاني Jumada al-awwal (Jumādā I) جمادى الاول Jumada al-thani (or Jumādā al-akhir) (Jumādā II) جمادى الآخر أو جمادى الثاني Rajab رجب (or Rajab al Murajab) Sha'aban شعبان (or Sha'abān al Moazam) Ramadan رمضان (or Ramzān, long form: Ramaḍān al Mubarak) Shawwal شوّال (or Shawwal al Mukarram) Dhu al-Qi'dah ذو القعدة Dhu al-Hijjah ذو الحجة
Of all the months in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is the most venerated. Muslims are required to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during the daylight hours of this month.
It is estimated that Ramadan will start on August 10, 2010. This is subject to the first visual sighting of the lunar crescent.
Please refer to this link for an explanation of visual sighting of the lunar crescent to determine Ramadan start date.
Preparing for Ramadan 2010: Highlights of the Video Series on Ramadan Advice by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf starts off the lecture by noting that Islam has 5 pillars: shahadah (oneness of God), prayer, zakat, fasting and hajj. All of the pillars, including fasting, are forms of protection (a protective shield) for believers. Sheikh Hamza Yusuf notes that the previous religions has had fasting in their religious traditions. Muslim fasting during Ramadan is an extension of the religious traditions of Judaism and Christianity. This is not something new to believers seeking God.
Fasting has been prescribed for believers so that we learn taqwa. Taqwa is from an Arabic root word that means protection. So fasting is viewed as a way of protecting oneself. Fasting helps to form a protective barrier (shield) between us and the things that can harm us. Fasting also brings us back to our true nature.
It has been recommended that when someone attacks you verbally, or offends you while you are fasting, that you say twice "I am fasting". The aim is to prevent yourself from reacting to negative outside stimuli. These unwanted stimuli can unsettle you and make you behave in a reactionary manner. This should be avoided because the aim of fasting is to bring you to a state of higher consciousness. And you cannot achieve this state if you are reactionary.
Too often, people succumb to "patterned behaviors". People are essentially sleeping. For example, people in bad relationships find themselves behaving in reactionary manner, stuck in a vicious cycle. Islam is about waking us up. It is said that one should consider oneself as being already in one's graves (as in, soul "wakes up" from grave upon the call on Judgment Day) - the point being, one should not to wait till that moment to wake up.
Fasting is one such way to wake up. One wakes up early morning to eat; one stays up late for night prayers.
Fasting is also not about eating - one should eat small morsels of food, and not gorge yourself. It is said that if one has to eat to fill, it should be in this order - 1/3rd of stomach for food, 1/3 for water, and 1/3 for breath. One has to eat what is necessary for survival, not in excess.
Essence of Ramadan
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf notes that the pre-Islamic Arabs regarded jahil (ignorance) in a different form from its literal Arabic meaning. They would respond to slights/offensive words or acts (ignorant acts) with disproportionate zeal. Their aim was to "out-jahil" (beat the others, figuratively speaking) with more ignorant acts. This form of behavior was raectionary. And contrary to the Islamic way.
The Islamic way is to show forbearance in the face of ignorance. This is the hallmark of those who follow the Prophet's path.
Sadly, this is not the face of Muslims today. You see anger and reactionary behavior. Contempt for non-Muslims is also prevalent. But this is not right. Avoid the zealotry of arrogant reaction. Be like the lion who walks with dignity (it is not about being meek as a lamb). Instead, the lion only attacks when it needs to, and that too, out of necessity, for food or out of defense. It never creates carnage for the sake of it.
The essence of Ramadan is to become aware of one's own nature, tongue, heart, eyes, ears, and to be aware of the gifts given to you by Allah. Look to Islam on how to structure your life - actions that are halal, haram and what is recommended.
Fasting helps you achieve forbearance and discipline. It brings tranquility to the heart. And when the heart it tranquil, it becomes acutely aware of Allah. This confers protection on you (others can't harm you) AND others are protected from you (you cannot harm others).
When we fast, we follow the prophetic traditions from times past. We are connecting with every seeker of God before us. This is time for us to turn off the television, stop the empty chatter and gossip. Spend your time remembering Allah through dhikr instead.
Trust in Allah
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf notes that the modern world is one that is very much fear-based. Feelings of doubt, fear and anxiety are prevalent. People are scared of losing their jobs, their wealth, worry about provisions of life. But when a believer has such feelings, he is simply not putting his trust in Allah.
He notes that it was entirely possible that such fears could come true - one could indeed lose it all. But if one seeks Allah, one gets everything one desires. Why? Because everything one desires is with Allah.
This state of fear, needs and wants are things that makes use miserable. Ramadan is about letting go of such doubts, fears and anxieties that plague our minds. Avoid being reactionary. Trust in Allah and recognize that the things in this life you will need, you already have - that is, faith.
Ramadan Advice Part 1
Ramadan Advice Part 2
Ramadan Advice Part 3
This is an excellent message from Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. The point about how the people who are living their lives hobbled by doubts and fears are actually not trusting God was profound. Ramadan is a good time as any to let go for such fears, trust in God, and indulge in the activities that uplift one's spiritual development.
A timeless advice that we can use in our lives well beyond Ramadan. Definitely worth spending time listening to.
Sha’baan is the name of the eighth month in the Islamic calendar. The month of Sha'baan in the Islamic calendar begins on July 13, 2010 on the Gregorian calendar.
Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallamhas on Sha'baan
“That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.”
It is narrated in Abi Dawud that Sha’baan was the month the Prophet loved to fast in the most, outside of the obligatory fasting during the month of Ramadan.
The Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (SAW) told us to avoid fasting the last one or two days of Sha’bān. This comes to us from a Hadith reported in Bukhari and Muslim. Some say this is to kind of prepare for the month ahead of 30 days of straight fasting.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had said that during the night of 15th Shaaban the Almighty Allah (SWT) takes decisions in the matters of sustenance, life and death and welfare of the people.
Next to the "Night of Qadr" the night of 15th Shaban, Lailatul Barat is the most auspicious night (also known as Shab-e-Barat or Night of Baraat). According to Imam Muhammad bin Ali Al-Baqir (as) and Imam Ja'far bin Muhammad As Sadiq (as), the Almighty Allah (SWT) has promised to fulfill every legitimate desire put forward to Him tonight.
Night of Bara'ah or Lailatul Barat is a night in which special blessings are directed towards the Muslims as mentioned earlier. Therefore, this night should be spent in total submission to Almighty Allah (SWT), and one should refrain from all those activities, which may displease Allah (SWT).
In order to observe the Night of Bara'ah or Shab-e-Barat, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he should spend the whole night in worship and prayer. However, if one cannot do so for one reason or another, he can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably of the second half of it for this purpose.
Recommended Fasts for the Islamic Lunar month of Sha'ban
1st, 2nd and 3rd of Sha'baan: 13 July, 14 July and 15 July 2010
1st Thursday, Mid-Wednesday and last Thursday of Sha'baan: 15 July, 28 July, 5 August 2010
13th, 14th and 15th of Shabaan: 25, 26 and 27 July 2010
Any Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Shaban
The last three days of Shaban to connect with the Holy month of Ramadan