Ramadan is considered the most joyful month of the year, and the month ends with the greatest celebration of all, the breaking of the fast, Eid al-Fitr. Around the world, Muslims celebrate with lights and decorations. In Egypt, "fanoos" -- lanterns made of tin and colored glass -- decorate streets and mosques. In the past, children played with the lanterns in the streets. In many areas, the current age of cars makes this unsafe, but the tradition is still practiced in homes and at Eid al-Fitr gatherings.
During the celebration, people dress in their finest clothes, decorate their homes with lights, give treats to the children and visit with friends and family. According to many, a sense of generosity and gratitude are a major part of Eid al-Fitr. Charity and doing good deeds is a very important part of Ramadan. The month will often consist of Muslims helping to feed the poor and making contributions to their mosques.When Muslims end the month of fasting, they are left with the many benefits that Ramadan leaves behind. According to Muslim tradition, Ramadan:
- strengthens one's ties with Allah and trains the soul to observe duties of devotion in accordance with the teachings of the Qur'an.
- enforces patience and determination.
- promotes the principle of sincerity by keeping the individual away from arrogance and showing off.
- promotes good character, particularly truthfulness and trustworthiness.
- encourages the individual to do away with bad habits and change his or her circumstances for the better.
- enhances generosity, hospitality and giving to charity.
- reinforces feelings of unity and brotherhood among Muslims.
- instills orderliness and observance of the value of time.
- serves as an opportunity for children to perform acts of obedience and to practice Islamic acts of worship.
- offers the chance to balance one's attention to both physical and spiritual needs.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims gain more than a cleansing of the body and mind. Muslims feel that they are doing the work of getting closer to Allah through prayer, and are becoming more compassionate people by experiencing hunger, learning about the suffering of the poor. The fast of Ramadan is a central experience in the Islamic religion.
To learn more about Ramadan, the rituals and history, and about Islam in general, check out the links below.
Originally Published: Oct 21, 2003