What is Ramadan About?

Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer for Muslims, the followers of Islam. Fasting is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam. Each day during Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. They are also supposed to avoid drinking, smoking, as well as unkind or impure thoughts and words, and immoral behavior.

Muslims break their daily fasts by sharing meals with family and friends. At the end of Ramadan, there is a three-day “festival” known as Eid al-Fitr, one of Islam’s major holidays.  This holiday is celebrated as a reward for the past month, and also serves as a reminder of being grateful for all that we have been blessed with. 

Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint and self-reflection. Fasting is seen as a way to cleanse the soul and have empathy for those in the world who are hungry and less fortunate. Muslims go to work and school and take care of their usual activities during Ramadan; however, some also read the entire Quran, say special prayers and attend mosques more frequently during this time.
All Muslims who have reached puberty and are in good health are required to fast. The sick and elderly, along with travelers, pregnant women and those who are nursing are exempt, although they are supposed to make up for the missed fast days sometime in the future or help feed the poor.
The first pre-dawn meal of the day during Ramadan is called “suhoor.” Each day’s fast is broken with a meal known as “iftar.” Traditionally, a date is eaten to break the fast. Iftars are often elaborate feasts celebrated with family and friends. The types of foods served vary according to culture.
Who is required to fast?

Anyone who has reached puberty and is of good health must fast. People who are exempt from fasting are: The sick and elderly, travelers, pregnant women and those who are nursing.
Though they are exempt, they should make up the fasts when they are able.

What do Muslims believe they gain from fasting?

Some of the main benefits of Ramadan are an increased compassion for those in need of the necessities of life, a sense of self-purification and reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality. Perhaps the greatest practical benefit is the yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline that can carry forward to other aspects of a Muslim’s life such as work and education.

Why do Muslims fast at different times every year?

Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year. Throughout a Muslim’s lifetime, Ramadan will fall both during winter months, when the days are short, and summer months, when the days are long and the fast is more difficult. In this way, the difficulty of the fast is evenly distributed between Muslims living in the northern and southern hemispheres.

What is Kaffarah?

If you intentionally miss a fast or break a fast in Ramadan without a legitimate reason, then you are obliged to make up for this by way of Kaffarah; to fast for 60 continuous days per fast missed or broken.
If due to illness, old age or infirmity you are unable to fast for 60 consecutive days, then you may give a monetary amount as Kaffarah. For each fast missed or broken, you are obliged to pay the equivalent of two meals for 60 people.
Please consult your local imam or shaykh, or a qualified scholar, for more guidance on this matter.

What is Fidyah?

Fidyah is paid by those who are unable to fast because of illness, old age or infirmity. Fidyah consists of paying for two meals for a person per day of fasting missed. If you are obliged to pay Fidyah, the current rate is: $6.55 per day.
Please consult your local imam or shaykh, or a qualified scholar, for more guidance on this matter.

What is Eid-ul-Fitr?

The name Eid al-Fitr means “feast of the fast-breaking”. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, and is celebrated the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. It is distinguished by the performance of communal prayer at daybreak on its first day. Eid al-Fitr is a time of official receptions and private visits, when friends greet one another, presents are given, new clothes are worn, and the graves of relatives are visited.

What is Zakat al-fitr? (Fitrah, Fitrana)

Fitrah is the obligatory charity that every Muslim, if they are able, must give after the sighting of the Eid moon. Those who have food in excess of their need are required to pay it, and it must be given before Eid prayer. (It can also be paid a few days before Eid).

It is obligatory on every family. Usually the head of every household pays Fitrah for his/her entire family. The Fitrah is a charity that is given to the needy so that they may enjoy the celebrations of Eid with the rest of the community. 

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What is Zakat?

Offering zakat is a religious obligation for Muslims, and is the third of the five pillars of Islam (right after prayer). In Arabic, zakat means purification, growth and blessing. Paying zakat is meant to remind Muslims to be appreciative of the blessings that Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) has bestowed upon them, and to help empower those who have less. There are two primary forms of zakat: zakat al-mal and zakat al-fitr.

Who is Eligible for Zakat?

IMANA collects and distributes zakat to those who are most in need, in accordance with Islamic guidelines. Giving your zakat through IMANA means you can help provide emergency food, lets talk about what IMR does, like medical attention here. According to the Holy Qur’an (9:60), there are eight categories of people who qualify to be beneficiaries of zakat:

  • The poor
  • The needy
  • The collectors of zakat
  • Those whose hearts are to be won over
  • Captives
  • Those burdened with debt
  • In the cause of Allah (swt)
  • Travelers

Most scholars agree that the poor and needy are the most important categories of people to receive zakat. Given that, it is acceptable to give your entire zakat allotment to individuals who are in those groups.