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What does “Ramadan” mean exactly, and why is today so important to Muslims?

After a long period of fasting, today marks Eid al-Fitr, the final day of the  month of Ramadan. Muslims around the world will mark the occasion with a day of feasting.

During Ramadan, Muslims honor the time when they believe God revealed the first verses of the Koran. It is the month in which all Muslims atone and seek nearness to Allah (the Muslim name for God)  by fasting and abstaining from sex and smoking. During this time, it is also encouraged to avoid evil thoughts and cursing. Soldiers, the sick, and the young are exempt from the fasting ritual.

Sawm is the Arabic word for fasting. The word is derived from the Syriac sawmo. In Afghanistan, India, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan the word rozeh, from Dari, is used instead of sawm. Turks call it oruç. In Malaysia and Singapore it is called puasa, which is derived from Sanskrit.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year. Because of the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan falls in different seasons over a cycle of about 33 years. Because of the origin of its name, it is believed that Ramadan was originally a summer month. Ramadan once meant “the hot month.” It comes from the Arabic ramida, which meant “to be burnt, scorched.”

25 Comments

  1. Abi -  July 12, 2013 - 6:04 am

    ramandon is the month that God reguilde and if you pay for 4 giveness from God. God will answer all the bad things that we do in the world.

    Reply
  2. humeirah -  August 12, 2012 - 5:24 am

    only islam religion tels us pple how to avoid from bad things.rest of other relegions doesnt tel that also..

    Reply
    • Barai -  July 9, 2014 - 6:36 am

      because in all religion people follow what u try to do in only one month. look all over rthe world who are creating turmoil.

      Reply
  3. Sharron -  June 12, 2012 - 10:40 am

    Is an accuse to try and get rid of all evil done during the previous year. In other words I can do what I want for 11 months at but ramadam I try to absolve myself of past sins. If you want to be close to God do it 12 months
    of the year not just one !

    Reply
  4. Amail -  May 14, 2012 - 1:06 pm

    Cool

    Reply
  5. a carter -  February 9, 2012 - 8:18 am

    Can u eat in thst month

    Reply
  6. Xs -  October 26, 2011 - 12:19 am

    @Sona:
    The abstinence from fornication, evil thoughts and cursing is explicitly prohibited for the entire lifetime.

    To simplistically think of the actual purpose behind Ramadan, you can think of it as an annual detoxification and an annual refresher that brings order to the otherwise rampantly chaotic human lifestyle.

    Reply
  7. sona -  August 19, 2011 - 4:21 pm

    Abstaining from sex and smoking, avoiding evil thoughts and cursing..during zat time.. wat about the rest of the days???????????

    Reply
  8. shams -  August 15, 2011 - 3:18 am

    Allah almighty have once again blessed us with the holy month Ramadan so we should try to gain as much as Allah’s blessings and showers and ask forgiveness from Allah for our mistakes .

    Reply
  9. simpa ahmed anavami -  July 31, 2011 - 3:31 pm

    Ramadan is here again,i give thanks to allmighty allah,the most merciful,the lord of the universe, none has the right to be worshiped except you.you alone i worship and you alone i seek for help.oh Allah pls grant all my request in this month of ramadan.the king of all month.

    Reply
  10. jomama -  February 4, 2011 - 1:20 pm

    whats are muslimbs?

    Reply
  11. AvidReader -  September 27, 2010 - 12:23 pm

    Hmmm… one of those things you know, but will never really use

    Reply
  12. David E. -  September 12, 2010 - 3:34 pm

    Sawm is closely related to the Hebrew ṣōm (pronounced ‘tzohm’), which means “fast”.

    Reply
  13. Nirmal Kumar Mishra -  September 11, 2010 - 7:36 am

    The word could be split into RAM(A) AND DAAN.
    DAAN means giving or charity. It could be said that eating one time means saving food for another time to be given to the poor.

    Reply
  14. Shay -  September 11, 2010 - 5:08 am

    Thank you! I was just wondering what Eid al-Fitr meant. Very informative article.

    Reply
  15. WanE -  September 10, 2010 - 10:27 pm

    That’s great information, now I know more about my dorm mate who can finally join us for dinner after so long

    Reply
  16. bhavya mehta -  September 10, 2010 - 8:09 pm

    nice..will love to see more of such type where one reaches core and the crux of accepted and established facts. i always support the “digging”. and as a suggestion, i will also exhort you to post with scientific info(where one comes up with the reasoning of phenomena around us)

    Reply
  17. I got promoted! for sure -  September 10, 2010 - 2:13 pm

    Breakfast is to break a fast, some eat more than usual in daytime during Ramadan. That is pitty.

    Reply
  18. ABEER -  September 10, 2010 - 1:41 pm

    SAWM is a word written in Muslim’s bible book “Quran” so it is Arabic word originally

    Reply
  19. Acey -  September 10, 2010 - 1:35 pm

    now i know…

    Reply
  20. junessa meiji -  September 10, 2010 - 12:51 pm

    now I know. thanks for the info.

    Reply
  21. Kanzhe Liu -  September 10, 2010 - 10:23 am

    A concise and well-written article. I’ve always been curious about what the solemnity entails. I especially enjoy all the etymologies of the names of the same word across various languages.

    Reply
  22. Zic -  September 10, 2010 - 10:10 am

    Abstaining from sex and smoking, avoiding evil thoughts and cursing should be an everyday ritual. It seems very hypocritical to still partake in these things for the rest of the year! Fasting on the other hand i do agree with.

    Reply
  23. Greg -  September 10, 2010 - 9:36 am

    Wow…interesting…

    Reply

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