Fatwa: # 32313
Category: Fasting (Sawm)
Country: Australia
Date: 21st April 2020


Questions from a non-Muslim - What is Ramadaan?


My name is Victoria George from Northpine Christian college. I am conducting an assignment on Islamic rituals focusing on Ramadan. I understand that the background of your website is Islamic, I was wondering if you could answer some questions for the purpose of my assignment? Here are the questions, please answer in as much detail as possible.


1. Do you know the meaning of Ramadan?

2. Are you personally indulging in the ritual Ramadan?

3. What do you believe in the reason behind fasting- what does it accomplish?

4. Do you know what the Quran says about Ramadan? 5. Has the modern Islamic religion embraced Ramadan? 6. Do you think the 40 hour famine for charity reasons has any relation to Ramadan?

If you wouldn't mind answering these questions and some background information on yourself ( including: married or not, children?, age, how long you've been with the religion etc) that would help me a lot, feel free to add personal opinion even if that means you do not believe in the ritual of fasting.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Thank you for your inquiry. We understand that you are looking to gain an understanding of Ramadan for your assignment at school.

Here are the answers to your questions:

1. Yes, Ramadan is the name of the 9th month in the Hijri (Islamic) calendar. The name is derived from severe heat because when the months were named, the month of Ramadan happened to coincide with a hot time.

2. Yes, Muslims all over observe the month of Ramadan, whether working or studying.

3. The reason for fasting is made clear from the Quran (the Word of Allah), in the 2nd Chapter, Verse 183:

“O you who believe! Fasting has been enjoined upon you as it was enjoined upon those before you that you may become God-fearing.”

By saying “that you may become God-fearing” the Quran informs us that fasting increases in a person the ability to control and subdue his desires and abstain from sins. While learning to control the most basic aspect of our human needs, we also learn to take fasting to the next level by keeping the eyes, ears, and all other body parts free from sin.

Then the next level of fasting is to fast in such a way that not only food, drink and sins are avoided but also unworthy or worldly concerns. So the purpose of fasting is to fear God that begins at the level of control over food and drink then proceeds to the limbs and then to the heart such that a person attains true consciousness of God at all times.

Similarly there is a great benefit in fasting in that one experiences hunger and thirst and the plight of the poor. The month also makes us more generous, makes us want to share more, especially with the poor. Those that cannot fast due to old age or sickness with little to no chances of recovery offer compensation to the poor to make up for not fasting. So there are multiple personal and social benefits of fasting.

4. Yes, the Quran addresses both the obligation of fasting and the month of Ramadan in the 2nd Chapter, Verse 185:

“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”

5. Islam is not something that has to change or adapt therefore there is no “modern Islamic religion.” There is only Islam, and since Allah, Lord of the Worlds, has ordained fasting, we as Muslims fulfill this command. It has always been so that Muslims have fasted the month of Ramadan and even before us, previous communities of Prophets (peace be upon them all) were ordered to fast as well (see the verse mentioned in Answer #2).

This does not mean that the fasting enjoined upon previous communities was the same in all respects, just that the command of fasting was given to them as well. The purpose of reminding Muslims of this is to give them psychological comfort since fasting naturally incurs some inconvenience but if such an inconvenience is faced by a large number of people it becomes easier to bear. [Adapted from Maariful Quran]

6. No, the fasting of Ramadan has no relation with the 40 hour famine for charity reasons. As mentioned in Answer #5 fasting is an act of worship that has been given to both Muslims and previous communities of Prophets (peace be upon them all).

In conclusion, we also have a request for you. We invite you to read the 19th Chapter, Verses 16-37 of the Quran quoted below. It is from the chapter called Maryam (Mary) and it beautifully conveys the birth of Isa (Jesus) peace be upon him:

16. And mention in the Book (the Quran, O Muhammad, the story of) Maryam (Mary), when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east.

17. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh [angel Jibrael (Gabriel)], and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.

18. She said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah."

19. (The angel) said: "I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son."

20. She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?"

21. He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for Me (Allah): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allah).' "

22. So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place (i.e. Bethlehem valley about 4-6 miles from Jerusalem).

23. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She said: "Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!"

24. Then [the baby 'Isa (Jesus) or Jibrael (Gabriel)] cried unto her from below her, saying: "Grieve not! Your Lord has provided a water stream under you;

25. "And shake the trunk of date-palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe-dates upon you."

26. "So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: 'Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.'"

27. Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said: "O Mary! Indeed you have brought a thing Fariya (an unheard mighty thing).

28. "O sister (i.e. the like) of Harun (Aaron) [not the brother of Mûsa (Moses), but he was another pious man at the time of Maryam (Mary)]! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor your mother was an unchaste woman."

29. Then she pointed to him. They said: "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?"

30. "He ['Isa (Jesus)] said: Verily! I am a slave of Allâh, He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet;"

31. "And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Salat (prayer), and Zakat, as long as I live."

32. "And dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest.

33. "And Salam (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!"

34. Such is 'Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). (It is) a statement of truth, about which they doubt (or dispute).

35. It befits not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son [this refers to the slander of Christians against Allah, by saying that 'Isa (Jesus) is the son of Allah]. Glorified (and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, "Be!" and it is.

36. ['Isa (Jesus) said]: "And verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him (Alone). That is the Straight Path. (Allah's Religion of Islamic Monotheism which He did ordain for all of His Prophets)."

37. Then the sects differed [i.e. the Christians about 'Isa (Jesus)], so woe unto the disbelievers [those who gave false witness by saying that 'Isa (Jesus) is the son of Allah] from the meeting of a great Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection, when they will be thrown in the blazing Fire).

We invite you to embrace Islam, to submit yourself to Allah Alone Who has no associate and neither a wife nor a son, and that Muhammad (salallahu alahi wa sallam) is His slave and Messenger.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Sohail ibn Arif,
Student Darul Iftaa
Chicago, USA

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

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