What Is The True Meaning Of Ramadan? - Blue Abaya (2022)

Ramadan Mubarak to all Blue Abaya readers, it’s that time of the year again to reflect on the true meaning of Ramadan. Ramadan in Saudi Arabia is estimated to begin on the 16th of May 2018. To read more about what kind of changes Ramadan brings with it in the ‘Magic Kingdom’ read this post: The Magic Month in the Kingdom.
The following article ‘In Search of the True Meaning of Ramadan’ was published in its original form in Saudi Gazette newspaper in 2013. I wrote the article because each year that I spend in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan, the more all the over-consuming and spending madness is starting to bother me. The true, original meaning of Ramadan has been totally forgotten and it makes me feel really sad to see what is has become for some.

So writing this article, I wanted to reflect back on how I searched for and found out about the true meaning of Ramadan.

What Is The True Meaning Of Ramadan? - Blue Abaya (1)What Is The True Meaning Of Ramadan? - Blue Abaya (2)

Most non-Muslims know this month as the time when Muslims abstain from food and drink during the daylight hours. Before I came to KSA, admittedly, just like most non-Muslims living in western countries, I was pretty ignorant about Ramadan. I knew that this was the month when Muslims fasted from sunrise to sunset, but that was pretty much it.

Before coming to Saudi Arabia, I had heard peoplein my country Finlandsaying things like ‘the mohammedians’ can eat only at night because Allah doesn’t see in the dark (seriouslysome people really think this to be true) or that the ‘mooslomans’ (yes there people who still use these ignorant terms) fast only part of the day because they couldn’t handle a week in row of fasting (like any human could?). It was all made out to be some sort of big joke, this Ramadan thing. After having listened to all this nonsense and misinformation about Ramadan I remember wondering,what was the real reason behind the Muslimfast, because it didn’t seem to make any sense to me. Inever bothered to find out the real answer though.

That is, until I came to work as a nurse to the “Magic Kingdom”.

During my first Ramadan in Saudi Arabia 8 years ago, I became very curious to find out more about the holy month of Muslims. Because of my living and working environment in a Saudi government hospital, all this fasting business suddenly became much more of a reality to me.

To my surprise, as Ramadan drew closer, many of my expat friends grew grumpier. “I hate Ramadan!” “Everything is closed, nobody is working” “Muslims skip work and leave all the work for us to do” “Whatever you do, don’t stay in Saudi for Ramadan, it’s just crazy” “they will arrest you if they see you drinking water during the day” etcetcetc.

I did not hear a single positive comment about Ramadan. So naturally, I became somewhat weary of what Ramadan would bring along and started to dread the beginning of it along with all the other expats.

So Ramadan rolled along and the entire hospital turned upside down. Read here what Ramadan is like in a Saudi hospital. Patients ate at the strangest hours, visitors came and went in the middle of the night, Muslim working hours were cut, some Muslim employees would disappear in the middle of shifts, medicine regimes had to be changed and fasting patients could not even be administered intravenous medicines during daytime. It was all very confusing.What Is The True Meaning Of Ramadan? - Blue Abaya (3)What Is The True Meaning Of Ramadan? - Blue Abaya (4)

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Some of the things I had been “warned” about did happen, such as the strange hiding of all foods from sight and some colleagues skipping work. (Read more about it in this post The Different Sides to Ramadan in KSA)

Despite all the weird schedule changes, I could not help noticing other, more positive changes too. There was a remarkable sense of unity, cheerfulness and a feeling of high spirits among my Muslim colleagues. The patients, if possible, became even more welcoming, friendly, and hospitable.

There was a sense of elation in the air that I could not quite put my finger on, but it made me even more curious.

One day as I was doing some charting, I curiously watched as all the ward clerks, nurses and doctors prayed together in the staff room. I finally mustered up the confidence to ask about Ramadan, despite the fact that they were all Saudi males and I felt a little intimidated to approach them on this matter. I remember simply asking “why do you fast during Ramadan?”

I was blown away by the reply. Looking back, the way one of the men explained it to me in such a nice and respectable way was commendable, despite my seemingly super ignorant question.

He told me:

We fast to remember all those people who cannot eat and drink daily.”

“We fast to feel their suffering, to remind ourselvesof how blessed we are to have food and water. “

“We fast to feel those same pangs of hunger that our poor sisters and brothers feel daily around the world.”

We fast to become more generous, to practise self-discipline and to strive to become better Muslims and better people.”

His words had a profound impact on me. Somehow I had failed to see the true meaning of the fast. From that day onward I started to look at it from an entirely differentperspective.

I realized thatRamadan is so much more than just abstaining from food and drink during the daylight hours. I cameto learn that Muslims are supposed to abstain from all harmful acts as much as possible during the month of Ramadan. They should concentrate on becoming a better person and do good deeds to others, give charity and avoid bad and harmful behaviors.What Is The True Meaning Of Ramadan? - Blue Abaya (5)What Is The True Meaning Of Ramadan? - Blue Abaya (6)

Ramadan can be very different from one person to the other, depending on what their personal goals for the month are. Everyone can set their own goals for Ramadan according to their life situation and abilities. While one person struggles to quit smoking, another might set as a goal to read the entire Quran during Ramadan or start healthier eating habits. Some might plan to pray extra prayers every day, donate to charity or memorize a new Surah from the Quran.

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So that day I learned from those Saudi colleagues that Ramadan is also about remembering the Creator, reading the Quran, which was sent down during the month of Ramadan, doing good deeds (out of a sincere wish to do them, not by habit or force), being kind to others, giving out Dawah (teaching, not preaching non-Muslims about Islam) and remembering the poor and the less fortunate.Ramadan is aboutbeing humble, modest and abstaining not only from food, but from extravagance,over-consuming, spending, wasting food, money and resources.

Sadly, what I see happening in reality is very disturbing, keeping in mind what I had learned about the true meaning of Ramadan. I saw that many people in Saudi Arabia are doing the exact opposite.

The true purpose of fasting and meaning of Ramadan has been long-lost and forgotten. I see people stocking up on food as if it’s going to run out from the stores, cooking and baking like there is no tomorrow. Women are spending their days in the kitchen instead of focusing on other more important things;some out of their own will or perhaps out of learned habit and routine, some by demands from husband and even peer pressure. Instagram and Facebook becomes flooded with the most extravagant iftar meal images, as if it’s a competition of who made the most food.

When time comes for iftar, often people indulge in huge meals and then lay around all evening snacking on deep-fried, highly sweetened and unhealthy foods. Watching Arabic soap operas on TV, gossiping with friends and staying up all night is very common. Many go to shopping malls which are now open until the early morning hours for mindless shopping, just for the sake of shopping, not need.

Some even force their kids to stay up late or wake them up in the middle of the night so that the parents don’t have to get up early with them. The next day they sleep until the evening until it all starts over again at sunset.

The Prophet Mohammed taught Muslims by his own example to break the fast with simply dates and water, then eat a light meal later. He is known to have kept to the normal daily routines during Ramadan and not becoming nocturnal despite the heat.

I wish people would not forget the true meaning of Ramadan, its purpose, and all the blessings of this month. I hope this post also helped non-Muslim and newbies to the Kingdom to learn something they didn’t know about Ramadan and fasting.

I wish everyone a beneficial, not superficial Ramadan!

Stay blessed :)

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Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 75 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Follow my adventures in Saudi and beyond on instagram: instagram.com/blueabaya


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Whats the meaning of Ramadan? ›

What is Ramadan? Ramadan is a holy month of worship, study of the Quran, prayer, and fasting. Ramadan occurs during the month in which Muslims believe the Quran began to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is a joyous celebration for Muslims. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

What is the true meaning of fasting in Islam? ›

ṣawm, (Arabic: “fasting”) in Islam, any religious fast, but especially the fast of the month of Ramadan during which Muslims abstain from food or drink each day from sunrise (fajr) until sunset (maghrib). The purpose of the fast is to practice self-restraint, piety, and generosity.

What is the main message of Ramadan? ›

What is the main purpose of Ramadan? During Ramadan, Muslims aim to grow spiritually and become closer to Allah and their loved ones. They do this by fasting and abstaining from pleasures like smoking, drinking and sexual intercourse between sunrise and sunset each day.

What is the spiritual meaning of Ramadan? ›

Ramadan is a month of spiritual cleansing and purification for Muslims in which we try to increase our worship, good deeds and acts of charity. The last ten days and nights hold even more significance as Allah shows great mercy to His creation.

What is the other name of Ramadan? ›

In this page you can discover 10 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for ramadan, like: Ramadaan, Ramadam, rajab, ramadhan, hajj, muharram, Ramadhaan, ashura, eid-ul-fitr and ramazan.

Why is it called Ramadan? ›

Ramadan, one of the months in the Islamic calendar, was also part of ancient Arabs' calendars. The naming of Ramadan stems from the Arabic root “ar-ramad,” which means scorching heat. Muslims believe that in A.D. 610, the angel Gabriel appeared to Prophet Muhammad and revealed to him the Quran, the Islamic holy book.

What is the real purpose of fasting? ›

The purposes of fasting include: Developing spiritual strength, including resisting temptation. Developing self-mastery, making our spirits masters of our bodies. Showing humility.

What is the best purpose of fasting? ›

Fasting is a practice that has been associated with a wide array of potential health benefits, including weight loss, as well as improved blood sugar control, heart health, brain function and cancer prevention.

Who was the first person to fast in Islam? ›

Noah and Moses fasted that day as an indication of their thankfulness to God. Then the Prophet said, “I am the one to fast that day ” and told his followers to fast the 10th of Muharram as well.

What are 3 reasons why Ramadan is important? ›

Muslims believe that Ramadan teaches them to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate, thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat).

What is the most important night of Ramadan Why? ›

Laylat al-Qadr, (Arabic: “Night of Power”) Islamic festival that commemorates the night on which God first revealed the Qurʾān to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibrīl). It is believed to have taken place on one of the final 10 nights of Ramadan in 610 ce, though the exact night is unclear.

What happens to the souls during Ramadan? ›

Fasting is an opportunity to practice self-control; it cleanses the body, mind and soul and helps Muslims feel the peace that comes from intense spiritual devotion. God promises Muslims who fast for the whole month that all their sins will be forgiven.

How do you say Happy Ramadan 2022? ›

How do you wish someone a Happy Ramadan? You can exchange Ramadan greetings by saying “Ramadan Kareem,” which translates into “Have a generous Ramadan,” or “Ramadan Mubarak,” which roughly translates into “Happy Ramadan.” On the last day of Ramadan, which is Eid-al-fitr, the greeting changes to “Eid Mubarak.”

Why is Ramadan important essay? ›

Therefore, Ramadan is important for Muslims to practise self-control, cleanse sins, discipline, getting rid of bad habits, purify souls and the holy book was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad. By fasting in Ramadan, Muslims increase spiritual devotion towards Allah as it is the purpose of Ramadan.

What should I know about Ramadan 2022? ›

This year, the dates of Ramadan are expected to fall within Saturday, April 2, 2022 and Sunday, May 1, 2022. The Islamic Calendar follows a lunar cycle, and while these are the calculated expected dates of Ramadan, they can differ from place to place based on moon-sightings or lack thereof.

How many days is 2022 Ramadan? ›

Weather of Arabia - The month of Ramadan is expected to begin this year, according to astronomical calculations, on Saturday, April 2, 2022, and end on Sunday, May 1, 2022, and its duration is 30 days.

What do you say at the end of Ramadan? ›

Eid Mubarak

Together it means blessed celebration and used as a greeting to mark the end of the month of Ramadan where a three-day festivity follows.

What can you eat Ramadan? ›

Whole grains—sources include whole grain cereal, whole grain bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. Fresh fruits and vegetables—check out the produce section for dozens of ideas! Protein—sources include milk, yogurt, eggs, nuts. Healthy fat—sources are nuts and olives.

Can you kiss someone during Ramadan? ›

Yes, you can hug and kiss your partner during Ramadan. Sex is allowed during Ramadam if you are married, but not during the fast.

When was Ramadan first celebrated? ›

Dating back to 624 CE, the first ever Ramadan was observed in the city of Medina in today's Saudi Arabia, according to the Gregorian calendar. The date also marked the second year of the Hijrat, or migration in English, which played a crucial role in Islamic history.

What language is the word Ramadan? ›

The word Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word Ramidha رَمِضَ or Ar-Ramad الرَمَضُ. It means intense scorching heat. It is also derived from the word Ramdha الرمضاء which means sun-baked sand.

What are the 3 types of fasting? ›

There are three main types of fasts: calorie restriction, nutrient restriction, and seasonal eating.

Why is fasting and prayer so powerful? ›

Fasting and prayer can restore or strengthen your intimacy with God. Many longtime Christians find that fasting helps them rediscover their “first love” for God again. Fasting is a way to humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). King David said, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Psalm 69:10).

How many hours is fasting? ›

Fasting means you don't eat or drink anything but water usually for 8 to 12 hours beforehand. If your appointment is at 8 a.m. and you're told to fast for 8 hours, only water is OK after midnight. If it's a 12-hour fast, avoid food and drink after 8 p.m. the night before.

What can I drink while fasting? ›

Technically speaking, eating or drinking any calories breaks a fast. That means it's generally considered OK to drink black, unsweetened coffee or tea, as well as water.

What foods to eat after fasting? ›

What to eat to break your fast
  • Smoothies. Blended drinks can be a gentler way to introduce nutrients to your body since they contain less fiber than whole, raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Dried fruits. ...
  • Soups. ...
  • Vegetables. ...
  • Fermented foods. ...
  • Healthy fats.
26 Sept 2019

Which days are haram to fast? ›

Days when fasting is forbidden

Eid al-Adha and three days following it, because Muhammad said "You are not to fast these days. They are days of eating and drinking and remembering Allah", reported by Abu Hurairah. Eid al-Fitr. It is also forbidden to single out Fridays and only fast every Friday, as 'Abdullah b.

What are the three white days in Islam? ›

The White Days or Ayyām al-Bīḍ (Arabic: ایّام البیض) are specific days of each Islamic month; they are holy days according to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. These days are the 13th, 14th and 15th of every month in the Islamic calendar.

Who was the first messenger of God? ›

After Adam descended from Paradise, where he had lived for 130 years, he received the revelation of prophethood from Allah. Adam, the first man, became the first prophet and the first Messenger to whom Allah revealed.

What are benefits of Ramadan? ›

"Restricting food intake during the day can help prevent chronic ailments like high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, as well as improve mental health and wellbeing," says Dr Pasi. "Fasting allows the gut to cleanse and strengthen its lining.

Is Ramadan really important? ›

Ramadan is the holy month of obligatory fasting (sawm) for Muslims. The Quran tells us its significance. It was the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was first sent down as guidance for all people, having in it clear proofs of divine guidance and the criterion for right and wrong.

What is the first night of Ramadan called? ›

The Qadr Night or Laylat al-Qadr (Arabic: لیلة القدر), variously rendered in English as the Night of Decree, Night of Power, Night of Value, Night of Destiny, or Night of Measures, is, in Islamic belief, the night when the Quran was first sent down from Heaven to the world and also the night when the first verses of ...

What is the holiest night in Islam? ›

Rabat - Although Ramadan is an important holy month for Muslims, a time of deep spiritual reflection, there is one night in particular, Laylat al-Qadr, that is exceptional. Falling at the end of the blessed month of Ramadan, Laylat al-Qadr is known as the holiest night in the Islamic calendar.

What is the name of the night prayer in Ramadan? ›

Instead, Twelvers believe in the Tahajjud prayer or Salat al-Layl ("night prayer"), which is recommended throughout the year, especially during the nights of Ramadan.

Who is the angel of death in Islam? ›

Azrael, Arabic ʿIzrāʾīl or ʿAzrāʾīl, in Islam, the angel of death who separates souls from their bodies; he is one of the four archangels (with Jibrīl, Mīkāl, and Isrāfīl) and the Islamic counterpart of the Judeo-Christian angel of death, who is sometimes called Azrael.

What will happen after death? ›

During death, your body's vital functions stop entirely. Your heart no longer beats, your breath stops and your brain stops functioning. Studies suggest that brain activity may continue several minutes after a person has been declared dead. Still, brain activity isn't the same as consciousness or awareness.

What are the signs of good death in Islam? ›

What is a 'good death' for Muslims? It it when a person is surrounded by family and has an opportunity to reflect on past sins and seek forgiveness. "When death approaches, the patient and family environment usually become charged with emotions as they seek forgiveness from one another", according to an article by Dr.

Why do Muslims fast in Ramadan? ›

The practice of fasting from dawn to dusk is central to this Muslim holy month and its purpose is to to develop God-consciousness, or Allah's awareness ("Taqwa" in Arabic). "It's the one thing that God asks of us. And that's why Ramadan is so special," she says. "This is actually a month of cleansing your sins."

What do we do in Ramadan? ›

Fasting during Ramadan is done by Muslims from dawn to sunset for 30 days. This includes prayers, charity, and reflecting on the Quran. One of the five pillars or duties of Islam is fasting during Ramadan. Other four pillars include faith, prayer, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca.

What can you eat Ramadan? ›

Whole grains—sources include whole grain cereal, whole grain bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. Fresh fruits and vegetables—check out the produce section for dozens of ideas! Protein—sources include milk, yogurt, eggs, nuts. Healthy fat—sources are nuts and olives.

What food do they eat in Ramadan? ›

Iftar generally contains foods from all food groups; fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, beans/meat and dairy. Hydrating vegetables and fluids are also commonly consumed. Some traditional meals for iftar include: Mahshi (Egypt) – rice stuffed into eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and zucchini.

What are 3 reasons why Ramadan is important? ›

Muslims believe that Ramadan teaches them to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate, thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat).

Why do Muslims wear hijabs? ›

The Qur'an instructs Muslim women and men to dress modestly, and for some, the hijab is worn by Muslim girls and women to maintain modesty and privacy from unrelated males. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and Muslim World, modesty concerns both men's and women's "gaze, gait, garments, and genitalia".

Why do Muslims eat dates? ›

They are also eaten by many Muslims as part of the pre-dawn suhour meal. “The sugar in dates keeps your energy levels high, and its high fibre content also makes you feel full for a longer time, which is why it is commonly eaten during both iftar and suhour .

What can't u do during Ramadan? ›

Eating, drinking, and sexual activities are not allowed between dawn (fajr), and sunset (maghrib). Fasting is considered an act of deeply personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God.

Can we kiss during Ramadan? ›

Yes, you can hug and kiss your partner during Ramadan. Sex is allowed during Ramadam if you are married, but not during the fast. Just like food and drink, your natural urges must be fulfilled when the sun sets.

What you should not do during Ramadan? ›

During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating any food, drinking any liquids, smoking cigarettes, and engaging in any sexual activity, from dawn to sunset. That includes taking medication (even if you swallow a pill dry, without drinking any water).

Can Muslims have dogs? ›

Whereas some interpretations of Islam deem dogs impure, Mr Allam says: “It is possible to coexist with a dog and still worship God.” Citing the Maliki school of Islam, he claims that every living animal is pure.

Why can't Muslims eat pork? ›

It is the habit of the Qur'an in every aspect of life to encourage the Muslims to think, to ponder, to remember, to reflect, to find out, to search and to do something good about it. Qur'an mentioned that Allah prohibits eating the flesh of swine, because it is a SIN and an IMPIETY (Rijss).

What can you drink during Ramadan? ›

Fasting during Ramadan means abstinence from all food or drink, including water and chewing gum, from dawn to sunset. It is recommended that before sunrise, Muslims eat a prefast meal known as suhur. This meal often resembles breakfast, but in some cultures it may include more dinner-like foods.

What do Muslims eat for breakfast? ›

Usually that big breakfast is one of three options: Falafel, fool and hummus with pita bread or Kaek and tea (No need to reach for Google translate! read on, you'll find out what they are) A variety of homemade staples like labneh, nabulsi cheese, jams, zaatar , dukka and olive oil.

What to eat before fasting? ›

Before the Fast

A typical pre-fast meal would include brown rice, baked chicken, a cooked veggie like carrots or broccoli, a tossed salad and fresh fruits for dessert. Those fruits, veggies and brown rice provide fiber to help me feel fuller a little longer and, of course, offer tons of vitamins and minerals.


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