September 9, 2008

Ramaḍān Glossary

Filed under: Islamic Terms — abuaisha @ 6:00 am

Ramaān (رمضان) –Ramaān is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It is considered as a sacred month in which fighting should be stopped and focus should be on worship to God. During this month Muslims fast from before sunrise until sunset.
Ramaān comes from the word ram (رَمض) which coming from Arabic means ‘to become hot’ and refers especially to the stones in the desert which would become hot from the intense sunlight. When the months of the Islamic/Arabian calendar first fell, the month of Ramaān was especially hot, and that is how its name came about. In a general sense from the view of the fasting Muslims, Ramaān is a month in which during the daylight hours no food or drink is intaken, and as such parallels are drawn with the notion of the hot and dry desert setting from which the name of the month was drawn.

Eid ul-Fiṭr (عيد الفطر) – Eid (ʿĪd) denotes any event that occurs annualy or at regular intervals. In Islam, there are 2 annual Eids, Eid ul-Fiṭr and Eid ul-‘Aħā. Eid ul-Fiṭr marks the end of the month of Ramaān and also the end of compulsory fasting, which is where it gets its name from (Fiṭr – Breaking of the fast). The day falls on the 1st of Shawwāl, which is the month which follows Ramaān. On this day an Eid prayer is held and it is common for there to be festivities and families will go out to visit one another. It is forbidden to fast on the day of Eid.

Fidyah (فدية) – Fidyah refers to an amount payed in ransom for not having properly completed a task. In the case of Ramaān it refers to an amount payed by somebody who did not complete their fast for any day during the month. The fidyah depends on what it was that broke the person’s fast. A list of rulings regarding the fidyah can be found here. The most common fidyah is feeding the poor and needy.

Hilāl (هلال)The new moon. The hilāl is also known as the crescent moon, as when a new moon appears it is seen as a thin crescent. Because of this, the crescent moon is commonly used in depictions of Ramaān. More information on the new moon and the phases of the moon can be found at

Ifṭār (إفطار) Ifṭār literally means ‘breaking the fast’ and refers to the time at sunset (maghrib) in which fasting ends for the day and one may eat and drink. It is encouraged to eat immediately rather than delaying it, as this was the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and it is also preferrable to break one’s fasting with dates and water.

Iṭʿām (إطعام) – Iṭʿām literally means ‘to feed’ and this is one of the things which Ramaān is known for. It is a great deed to feed others and it is narrated that when one feeds another person who was fasting, the reward gained for fasting is granted also to the person who fed the one who had fasted. As such Muslims in Ramaān strive to invite others for Ifṭār seeking the reward in it as well as increasing brotherhood and sisterhood.

Iʿtikāf (إعتكاف) – Iʿtikāf refers to a voluntary isolation within the mosque. This is most commonly performed in the last 10 nights of Ramaān in an effort to increase one’s chances of gaining full benefit on Laylat ul-Qadr. One who performs Iʿtikāf stays within the confines of the mosque and does not leave at any time. They spend their time in worship, be it praying, reading the Qur’ān or making rememberance of God.

Laylat ul-Qadr (ليلة القدر) Laylat ul-Qadr means ‘The Night of Decree’. It is a night which falls in the last 10 nights during Ramaān. It is on this night that the decree for the coming year is descended to the lowest heaven. This night is specified in the Qur’ān is being ‘better than 1,000 months’.
As is mentioned in Sūrat al-Qadr, the 97th Surah of the Qūr’ān:

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ . وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ . لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ . تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ . سَلامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ
Verily! We have sent it (the Qur’ān) down in the Night of Decree. And what will make you know what the Night of Decree is?  The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Rūħ (the Angel Gabriel) by God’s Permission with all Decrees. Peace, until the appearance of dawn.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) informed us that on this night we should make the following (supplication) –
اللهم إنك عفو تحب العفو فاعف عني
Allāhumma, innaka ʿafuwwun, tuħibbul-ʿafwa, faʿfu ʿanni
Oh Allāh, verily You are Forgiving, and You love to forgive, so forgive me.

There are differing opinions as to the exact date on which Laylat ul-Qadr falls. This is due to differing narrations concerning its occurence in the past. It was narrated from the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) that it falls in the last 10 nights of Ramaān and that it is also on an odd night (21st, 23rd etc.) The fact that different reports from the companions of the Prophet appear is understood to mean that Laylat ul-Qadr does not fall on any one specific night however that it moves from year to year. As such one is encouraged to seek the night on the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th of Ramaān.

Qiyām (قيام) – Qiyām literally means ‘standing’. It refers to the optional prayers offered throughout the night, especially in the month of Ramaān. These prayers usually last longer than normal prayers and are prayed in a large number (usually 8 rakaʿāt + 3 witr). Many congregations aim to recite 1 juz’ (portion – approx. 1/30th) of the Qur’ān in each night of Qiyām, and as such much of the time is spent standing, listening to the Imām as he recites. This is where the name of Qiyām (standing) is evolved.

Raṭab (رطب) – Ripe or soft dates. These were the dates which the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) used to eat when he would break his fast.

Ṣawm/Ṣiyām (صوم / صيام) – Ṣawm translates as fasting, and Ṣiyām is its plural. Fasting in Islām is regulated clearly in the Qur’ān and the Sunnah and is prescribed for Muslims throughout the whole month of Ramaān. Its importance is immense, in fact it is considered as one of the five pillars of Islām.
When Muslims fast, they cease eating or drinking from before sunrise until sunset. The exact times are defined by the morning prayer (Fajr) and the evening prayer (Maghrib). This equates to just over half the day in which no food or drink may be taken, and one may not engage in any sexual relations or to abuse others. Whilst the Muslim fasts, he or she are urged to maintain good manners, desist from unnecessary arguing or fighting and to exert extra effort in performing good deeds.

Shahr (شهر) – Shahr is the Arabic word for ‘month’. Ramaān is one of the twelve months of the Islamic calendar. A common name for Ramaān is ‘Ash-Shahr ul-Mubārak’ – ‘The Blessed Month’.

Suħūr (سحور) Suħūr is the name for the meal which is eaten before the time for fasting begins, in the time before the early morning prayer (Fajr). The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) urged the Muslims to have this meal, as in it there are blessings.

تسحروا فإن في السحور بركة
Eat Suħūr, for verily in the Suħūr there is blessing.

Tahajjud (تهجّد) – Tahajjud is another term used for qiyām. It is sometimes used to refer specifically to the prayer performed late in the night or just before Fajr.

Some dates stuffed with almonds

Tamr (تمر)Date. Dates are recommended to be eaten when one is breaking their fast. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) would break his fast with dates and water and so Muslims all around the world fulfill this Sunnah (tradition of the Prophet) when it comes time for breaking the fast.

Taqabal Allāhu minnā wa minkum (تقبل الله منّا ومنكم) – “May Allāh accept from me and from you”. This is a duʿā’ (supplicaton/prayer) made on the day of Eid. It is asking Allāh to accept the deeds of one’s self and also of the person to whom one mentions this duʿā’ to. Other greetings are commonly used on Eid, such as ‘Kullu ʿām wa ‘antum bi-khayr’ however these greetings are not from the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and as such it is preferable to many to use what was narrated from his tradition.

Tarāwīħ (تراويح) – Tarāwīħ is another term used for qiyaam and is used especially to refer to the qiyām of Ramaḍān. Tarāwīħ comes from the word راحة ‘rest’ as it is common for the Imām to rest after praying 4 raka’āt before continuing.

Zakāt ul-Fiṭr / Sadaqat ul-Fiṭr (صدقة الفطر / زكاة الفطر) – Zakāt ul-Fiṭr is a charity given to the poor and needy at the end of Ramaān. It is usually given in the form of food (rice, barley etc.) however in many countries it has become common to pay a set amount of money which would then be donated to the needy.


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